Inside Robin's Nest
In many ways, Grain is a hobby we’re now lucky enough to have as a business.
Myself (hi, Robin here) and Tom have been tinkering and experimenting with making in our spare time for years. So much so that Tom convinced me to let the Grain cameras into my home – half to prove we really do live in our own furniture and half, I suspect, to force me to clean.
To clarify, I don’t live with Tom. I’m not sure either of us could handle that. My housemate is Rich, a friend from university. I moved into his two-bed flat in Kentish Town in 2014.
I decided I'd furnish my own room, but with limited space and sloping walls I had to be creative …
This was an experiment. I hadn’t built a chair before, and at the time I wanted to expand my skills and horizons. So I checked into the Blackhorse Road open workshop and got to work – a few years later and it’s still in my living room. The chair sits nicely alongside a bench in the centre, which I made a bit later, and the plant stack in the corner.
The plant stack is made out of a leftover table. When Rich and I first moved into Kentish Town we did the big IKEA starter-shop (as everyone does) and gradually replaced those bits with nicer ones. As you do.
Rather than scrapping an untreated pine IKEA table, I decided to try and repurpose it. I dreamt up a little stack of shelves, so I chopped up the table, painted it, repurposed the legs – and in the corner this unique little number has stayed.
Maybe most makers go through an upcycling phase. I certainly did. For the record, I don’t think upgrading and refurbishing old furniture into new is the future – but it is good, clean fun. This bedside table started life as a cable spool: I made it on my roof over the course of an afternoon.
The legs are solid oak, fashioned from a leftover shelf. And as I didn’t want to spend any real cash on it, I coloured it with plain white ceiling paint. It’s a bit of a marmite piece this one: some love it, some hate it. I’m happy to wake up to it every morning.
When I moved in, I said I’d happily furnish my bedroom. It's an attic flat, which means it has a great roof terrace, but it’s a strange shape and has smallish bedrooms. So when I couldn’t find a decent wooden bed with adequate storage, I opted to make it myself.
I borrowed a workbench and built it in the house; using only hand tools. All in it was a pretty low-fi build but there’s some serious solid wood to that frame and it gives me the storage I need: you can fit two extra mattresses under that base.
The headboard, and its brickwork effect design, was made by chopping solid oak into varying lengths and end-joining pieces using dowels.
I completed the job for £300 – which is way cheaper than going bespoke – so in the end I decided just to buy the slats. A little treat. I could have chopped 50 bits of wood but … well, I couldn’t be bothered.
Again, working with the unique dimensions of my bedroom and its sloping walls, a standard or off-the-shelf wardrobe wouldn’t have fit. Plenty of companies will come to your place, measure up the space and build a bespoke unit. But I wasn’t up for the cost.
So I designed my own wardrobe to fit. Aside from using a CNC machine to cut plywood panels, I assembled it using the tools that I had. The shelves, the hanging rail and some pretty smart concertina doors all came together and it makes the most of the space.
To finish it off, I whitewashed it with a mix of paint and water, and it's being going strong for 4 years now.
I guess Grain was perfected in our homes, and our experience can be found in our products going into your homes.
That’s the hope, anyway.