Company profile: Eat Sleep Live, champion of reclaimed wood furniture for characterful homes

Company profile: Eat Sleep Live, champion of reclaimed wood furniture for characterful homes

A table, a bed, a chair... everyone needs these pieces of furniture says Mark Godsell-Fletcher, founder of the popular independent reclaimed wood furniture company Eat Sleep Live

By Abby Trow
A table should be a once in a lifetime purchase

Eat Sleep Live's wonderfully chunky and patina-rich dining tables have flown off the shelves, so to speak, since Mark Godsell-Fletcher launched his company 15 years ago. Which is surprising, perhaps, as it's only fairly recently that the adjective 'reclaimed' been seen as a major selling point. 

Mark Godsell-Fletcher doesn't see himself as an eco or an online business pioneer; but with hindsight, he's been ahead of the game.

He started Eat Sleep Live as an online furniture company back in 2004 - considered risky because everyone said no one would buy big ticket furniture without seeing it first - and went with reclaimed wood from outset despite the additional cost implications (reclaimed wood has to be cleaned, de-nailed and sanded to make it useable).

Fifteen years on, Eat Sleep Live has a large, growing and very loyal clientele. And while many customers around the country do find the company online, word-of-mouth is also a big driver of sales because customers like their products and tell their friends.

Godsell-Fletcher says he thinks there's an honesty about his furniture and about the way the company has presented itself. 'We've tended to take photos of our furniture in customers' houses around the UK and that gives people a much better idea of how it can look in their homes.

'We don't sell an image, we sell extremely well-made furniture that's hand-made to order here in Nottingham from British reclaimed wood. We've always been about authenticity.'

EatSleepLive beds are as popular as its dining tables..solidly made, sturdy yet warm and good looking
Reclaimed wood works in modern and more traditional interiors
A low storage unit. People like the simple, stylish designs which suit modern and traditional interiors. And EatSleepLive's rustic furniture is designed to take the knocks and scrapes of family life
You can find furniture for each room in your house, at affordable prices
Dining tables from EatSleepLive are chunky, solid, timeless and hard wearing
Mark Godsell Fletcher likes the eco friendliness of reclaimed wood as well as its character

Reclaimed wood

Godsell-Fletcher, who designs the company's furniture as well as runs the business (though he's no longer the UK delivery man as well these days, he's pleased to say..) is obviously delighted to find that reclaimed wood is getting mainstream recognition for its eco merits.

'I am not rabidly green, but I could see way back when I first came across reclaimed wood that it was a great material on lots of grounds,' he says. 'Wood may be sustainable, but it does take time to grow, so it clearly makes sense to use the stuff we already have, even if it is  time-consuming to prepare it for re-use. 

'For me, reclaimed timber has a story and character, it can be hundreds of years old and you can't fake it. It's solid, it won't weaken or decay. The wood we buy has had all the nails removed from it and it's been cleaned, but otherwise we don't tamper with it, all we do is wax it.

'And I think we all have an affinity with wood, it's natural, it's nature, it's pure. It feels good to live with a solid wood table, for example, it'll see you through life.'

Rustic reclaimed wood furniture also has the advantage that it can take the knocks and scrapes of family life, you don't have to be precious about it, which is another reason people love it.

So do Eat Sleep Live customers choose the company because of its reclaimed wood - which may have previously been joists or beams in schools or hospitals?

'I would say when we started people wanted our tables because they were an absolute bargain! I think customers liked our chunky rustic designs and our quality and perhaps in the early days the fact that the wood was reclaimed probably wasn't of huge interest.

'But I think we're all getting much more environmentally-aware and I while I don't think someone will buy something just because it's reclaimed wood, I think more people are actively looking for great design that uses reclaimed materials, particularly wood.'

You'll find everything you need for the home, from tables to mirrors, office furniture to wardrobes
Wardrobes with a  wax finish that brings out the warmth of the wood
If you like the all aboard a bench approach to dining, EatSleepLive is the place to go
Dining tables are available in a variety of sizes and wax finishes. Prices from £530

Eat Sleep Live may have started out in a small workshop making dining tables, but today it has a comprehensive portfolio of products for every room in the house, available in various sizes and wax finishes, including a sophisticated grey limewash which is proving a best seller.

Godsell-Fletcher favours simplicity and timelessness when it comes to design, and says he sticks with rectilinear shapes because that way you don't have to cut and plane the wood and so lose the rustic surface. 

'What people want is to see the wood, because it's warm and tactile.  We want products to be unadulterated, which is why we choose wax finishes. Sometimes I'm asked if we'll do painted furniture, but to me there's no point in doing that because what Eat Sleep Live is about is wood pure and simple.'

And because he believes bed frames and tables in particular should be once or twice in a lifetime purchases, simple shapes are the best because they don't go out of fashion. 'A solid handsome rectangular table is timeless.'

The price is right

Price obviously is crucial and Eat Sleep Live has always offered excellent value for money. Dining tables - which are really substantial pieces of hand-made furniture - cost between £530 and £1,390 which is eminently reasonable. 'I think what's worked for us is that people feel they are getting great value for money. They're impressed by the sturdiness of their's not a flimsy flat-pack table...and they can see it's going to last.'

EatSleepLive has grown into a company that's 15-strong, with its own furniture makers, customer service team and delivery people. Lead time on furniture is 8-12 weeks and customers are kept informed about the progress of their orders. 'It's really important to keep customers in the loop,' says Godsell-Fletcher.

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