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Behind the scenes: The unseen journey from standard to custom…

by | Oct 23, 2023 | General interior design tips, Design Tips & Trends

How does a sofa evolve into a bespoke chaise longue?

In our latest post, “Behind the scenes: The unseen journey from standard to custom… The House Ministry look at the process of turning a standard sofa into a customised chaise longue.  Crafted to perfection by our skilled UK artisans.

Plus we’ll unveil 10 facts about this transformation – some of which will surprise you – and show you why the world of bespoke furniture design is so compelling and the reason it is such an oft-used skill in our designer toolbox.

Beige walls, concrete floor chaise long has a stripy pattern on a cream background

Finished Chaise Longue ready to be delivered


Through a blend of design evolution, collaborative spirit, and sustainable choices, you’ll see how the magic that happens when imagination meets craftsmanship.

In this case study, the size of the room, the seating requirements of the family and wish to have a cosy conversational space meant we needed to find a very shallow depth sofa.  In exploring the desires of the clients to be able to see the garden from that view point, it became obvious it should be a chaise longue.

A review of The House Ministy’s trade resources led us to a fantastic UK furniture maker we’d worked with before, who had a standard settee in their range of just the right depth – but it was just that – a settee!   However, being skilled furniture designers themselves they were very willing to adapt it to our design.

Chaise 1

There followed a series of sketches, emails and phone calls during the process to hone the design into what we had conceived to fit the clients’ brief.  You’ll see where the cabinet maker’s pencil marks reflected our request to make the back of the chaise more fluid, culminating in the finished piece you see below. 

White background, grey sofa with black drawing on top of the grey sofa

Chaise Longue Sketch

Workshop with wooden frame of the sofa

Chaise settee adaptation in the factory

Workshop with wooden frame of the chaise long

Chaise with pencil line in the factory


This journey isn’t only about the end product; it’s about the narrative of personalisation and the value it brings to our clients’ living space.

Beige walls, concrete floor chaise long has a stripy pattern on a cream background

Chaise finished in the workshop

Explore ten facets of this transformation and discover the compelling world of bespoke furniture design and why it is one of the well-used skills in our designer toolbox.

1. Evolution of a Design:

It is important to have a vision of what the finished piece should look like. We use images and sketches to initially communicate how existing items could look as a finished piece.  They’ll often include measurements and finishes.

2. Collaborative Spirit:

The common belief is that designers dictate the changes or the end result from the start. In reality, it’s a dialogue between the craftsman and the designer. Our furniture makers may suggest tweaks based on the wood’s grain or comfort level required, ensuring the final piece is not just unique but also a collaborative masterpiece.

3. Bespoke Isn’t Just About Size:

While size adaptation is common, bespoke work also involves intricate details, from the type of decorative trims to the choice of sustainable materials or historical upholstery techniques.

4. Eco-Conscious Choices:

Bespoke doesn’t necessarily mean extravagant or wasteful. In many cases, artisans utilise materials more efficiently and produce pieces meant to last generations, reducing the churn of disposable furniture.

5. Myth: Bespoke Means Longer Waiting Time:

You might assume custom-made means a lengthy process. While personalisation takes time, we generally know the lead times up front and can communicate that to the client. Adaptation of items is not always longer than standard.  Sometimes, it might even be quicker than waiting for an imported piece!

6. Local Craftsmanship:

The UK has a rich history of furniture-making. By choosing bespoke, we support local artisans and keep centuries-old techniques alive. Plus, sourcing locally often means a reduced carbon footprint.  While technology aids in precision, the soul of bespoke furniture lies in the handwork. Those subtle imperfections? They’re signs of human touch, making each piece truly one-of-a-kind.

7. Value Beyond Price:

The true value of bespoke furniture isn’t just in the cost but in its longevity, the stories it holds, and the personalised comfort and perfect fit for the finished room.

8. The Myth of ‘Expensive’:

Many assume bespoke means exorbitantly expensive. While it might come at a premium, it’s about value. Quite often It is no more expensive to have a piece to fit in with the brief.  With bespoke furniture, clients are investing in craftsmanship, longevity, and a piece tailored to their exact needs.  Very often the customisation of the piece is not a great deal more costly than the standard price – frequently only 10-15%.  Very often an upholsterer-made piece costs less than a high-end branded name retailer will charge.

9. Fit & Functionality:

A piece of furniture might look fabulous in a showroom, but will it fit through your Georgian townhouse’s narrow doorway or suit a cottage’s low ceiling? Bespoke ensures the perfect fit not just in size but in style and functionality for each unique space.

10.Personal Connection:

Our custom-made pieces aren’t just designed for a client; it’s designed with them, it becomes a narrative of collaboration.  Where distance and time is possible we offer for the client to visit the maker’s workshop and see the piece being made.

Beige walls, concrete floor chaise long has a stripy pattern on a cream background

The journey from a standard sofa to a bespoke chaise longue encapsulates the essence of personalised design. It’s a process rich in collaboration, sustainability, and innovation, reflecting a successful collaboration between designer, craftsman, and client.

As designers, mastering the bespoke process is a honed skill, allowing us to meet unique client needs, celebrate the wealth of craftsmanship the UK offers, and enhance the value and functionality of each space.

It’s more than just tailoring furniture; it’s about creating pieces that truly resonate with the our clients and the environment.


This skill is a cornerstone in The House Ministry’s design toolbox, driving us to deliver work that is as impactful and beautiful as it is personal.


If you’d like to find out more about how we could help you reply to this email or follow us on Instagram @thehouseministryinteriors to see more examples of our work.  The completed room with this chaise and other custom pieces will be installed at the start of the new year.



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