Hallidays is a name that instantly conjures up images of sophisticated manor houses with panelled rooms and beautiful antiques. It is a company that has been around for decades and has never wavered from being anything other than an incredibly high end, leader in the carpentry world of interiors. How lucky was I to discover that old polo friends that I hadn't seen for ten years had now taken over the running of the family business and were leading it into the future.
I went along to meet Toby Pejkovic, Managing Director and Melanie Pejkovic (Reily Collins), Head of Marketing at their workshop in Oxfordshire to get a glimpse into the world of Hallidays. I was really intrigued to learn that Hallidays was so much more than the old fashioned wood panelling that I had imagined. They were making beautiful bespoke furniture, really modern kitchens, stunning, solid doors and huge wooden gates for private properties. They are really moving with the times and working with interior designers to create wallpaper covered wardrobe doors in dressing rooms, media rooms, boot-rooms, huge bespoke mantle-pieces, you name it they can do it and boy do they do it well!
Their workshop was running like a well oiled machine with seven full time staff. The joiners consist of a team of dedicated and hard-working local boys that started as apprentices at Hallidays or other local joinery companies and today make the work possible through careful planning, hard work and an abundance of skill. One of the team has been with Hallidays for 61 years - joining the team at the age of 15! He has been with the company through thick and thin, never having another job, and his craftsmanship has been responsible in great part for the company's success over the years. He represents the ultimate success story for an apprentice programme: started by sweeping the floors, then worked as a cabinet maker, he then taught himself to draw and has been the company's Master Designer for most of his career!
Any extra work, or jobs such as spray-painting can be outsourced to loyal contractors but the majority of work is designed and created on site. The details they can create by carving intricate designs by hand was amazing and I really want you readers to be as excited about this company as I am. So I have included some images of finished jobs and also some behind the scenes shots of the fine work the team in the workshop are doing.
Please read on to learn all about Hallidays in my interview with Melanie & Toby, and if you find I've missed anything then please do feel free to contact them, they would be delighted if they can assist you on any future projects.
Hallidays is a long established business, could you explain a little about its history and how it has become what it is today?
The business was originally started by my Grandfather at the end of WWII - he had bought a beautiful old Theological College in Dorchester on Thames, but it was full of Polish refugees. He wanted to try and do something to help them and he found out that they were skilled cabinet-makers. He already had the Antiques business, which was proving very successful, and he thought it would tie in really well to begin reproducing beautiful Georgian mantelpieces and fire-surrounds. Originally it was only intended to be a sideline, however the business grew and grew. He began to take commissions to restore panelling, and from there, with the help of a very talented designer, the business as it is today started to develop.
My father joined the business when he married my mother, and really began to open up the international market, focusing on traditional British techniques, values and quality. With his unrivalled knowledge of period styles and design he was regularly commissioned by designers and architects to lecture throughout the world.
In the ten years since Toby has been at the helm Hallidays has really consolidated its position as one of the few brands that can faithfully reproduce a panelled room with the beautiful style and proportions and detail of bygone ages, as well as having the vision and foresight to bring traditional panelling standards to contemporary designs, all the while staying true to our core brand principles of heritage, legacy and craftsmanship.
Who makes up the majority of your customers?
Fortunately for us our client base is truly International. We are just as comfortable working on a small cabinet or single radiator cover for a property in Oxfordshire as we are panelling an entire luxury hotel in the USA. We are fortunate that many of our clients come back again and again to ask us to help with improvements to their homes, or as the move house. The business has been going for so long now that the grandchildren of some of our clients now come to us - my Grandfather would be so thrilled!
As bespoke cabinet makers and the leaders of quality room panelling what wood do you tend to use most and what would be your preferred choice to use?
Pine, we use a particular type which is FSC Certified and comes from managed forests. However, certain jobs may call for a specific type of timber, for example when restoring or adding to existing panelling - in this case we can source suitable woods such as English Oak, which is strictly controlled. The beauty of Pine is that it gives a finish that can be stained to an almost infinite number of colours, so a client may want a project to look like Cherry, or even very dark Mahogany, and our specialist, in-house colouring team can achieve that. It is a long process and the colour is hand applied and then hand waxed afterwards, but is looks amazing!
For each project we suggest the timber according to finish it will have: for painting we use poplar and MDF, nothing paints better than MDF and it's stable, durable and cost effective. In bathrooms we use Moisture Resistant MDF or Ply, which can be veneered with a variety of timbers to give the appearance of a solid piece.
For panelled interiors oak and pine are perfect - which is why they have been used for centuries - and they last for literally centuries! The oak is a much harder wood so it takes longer to make the same room in oak than it takes in pine.
What are you currently working on at the moment?
One of our larger projects at the moment is an exciting scheme for a client in Colorado. We had previously panelled his private penthouse in St Louis, Missouri, he was so impressed with the work he then commissioned us to work on his 200,000 acre boutique luxury sporting hotel. Our latest collaboration is on the private sporting lodge alongside the main accommodation. It's 10 rooms, 3 in hand polished American Cherry: two studies and a hallway.
7 other rooms include: an oak staircase with intricate barley twist turned spindles and continuous handrail with monkey tail at the base, Scandinavian Pine rooms with raised and fielded panels, elegant cornice and skirting mouldings, fine cabinetry and beautiful heavy architraves. The huge double doorways between rooms will have fluted columns with hand carved capitols - there is a picture of some of these stacked ready for staining on our Instagram account.
As well as the traditional panelling it was interesting to learn that you also excelled in more contemporary designs, it would be great to learn more about what areas you can implement more modern designs.
The beauty of working with panelling is that with one material you can create an almost infinite number of styles - from the totally traditional to the completely contemporary.
We are often asked to create modern designs for studies, games rooms, media rooms, cinema rooms or smaller family tv rooms. The furniture needs to be robust and durable to withstand every day life: constant opening and shutting of doors, children climbing shelves to reach the remote, teenagers throwing parties! We use the latest state-of-the-art hardware, concealed lighting and mechanisms to allow these rooms to be practical and functional as well as comfortable and beautiful.
The kitchen has become the room in the house in which many of our clients spend most of their time, the latest trend is to make a kitchen without it looking like one but more like a sitting room, a place where you can receive guests and enjoy their company over a glass of wine or a cuppa. Where you are also able to host an informal dinner party or even run your office from when you are working from home - always tidy, always functional, always a beautiful room to sit in and relax too.
The curved kitchens at the Mill are a great example of seamlessly blending living spaces with the working area. In this case it was a cost sensitive job, so the front of the units were supplied separately. Creating curved wood is difficult, but our craftsmen have many years experience and we have recently been commissioned to create curved bars, curved bathroom units and curved doors.
What has been your most exciting project to date?
We have been fortunate to work on some fantastic projects, from stately homes to contemporary penthouses, palaces to private yachts; for clients ranging from leading contemporary artists to media moguls. We do however, take our client's privacy extremely seriously, which sadly for us, means that the most exciting projects are often the ones that we really can't talk about! One of the most rewarding aspects for us, no matter what the size of the project we are working on, is having a client that is delighted with what we have produced for them - word of mouth is our key sales tool, and we strive to keep it that way.
The company is changing with the times, what plans do you have for the company in the future?
We like to buy sawn timber and prepare it ourselves by plaining it and sanding it to perfection in order to achieve an outstanding finish. This process generates sawdust which can be burnt efficiently to generate heat and replace the standard gas boilers. It is an amazingly clean process and generates virtually no smoke. We are in the process of installing one of these heaters which will allow us to save both on gas and waste, and reduce our carbon footprint as a result. We constantly monitor the environmental impact of our work and we ensure that all our timbers come from renewable sources, dedicated plantations that are sustainable and certified. In the last decade we have seen that our clients are just as concerned about the environment and they always enquire about the origin of the timbers we use and their certification.
Properly sourced timbers used to create panelling provide a truly sustainable form of interior decoration that is long lasting (centuries!), can be painted, stained or waxed over the generations to provide a different look, while providing sound proofing, insulation (warm in winter, cool in summer) is breathable, flexible (moves with old houses) adds security (concealed safes, expensive equipment and even secret passages and rooms) and is beautiful to boot - what's not to love?
I hope you have found this an interesting read with so much history and such a great skills set, I'm sure this company will continue to impress us in generations to come.
This is not a sponsored post
Photo credit to Hallidays & Anna Wilson Interiors