Profile: Bespoke wood kitchens from Stange Kraft

Profile: Bespoke wood kitchens from Stange Kraft

If you're looking to invest in a fine bespoke wooden kitchen, Stange Kraft is a company that can meet exacting standards, at a fraction of the cost of the big luxury kitchen manufacturers

By Simon Walton
Recently completed painted wood and walnut kitchen/diner

Stange Kraft has recently celebrated its eighth anniversary. Owned by Namibian-born Uwe Stange, it's based in Livingston, outside Edinburgh, and designs and manufactures bespoke wooden kitchens - not to mention the conservatories you might want to put them in.

There is something about the feel of wood, says cabinet maker Uwe Stange. 'No matter how you source your wood, no matter at what stage you engage with the material, wood still speaks to you as a living entity. For me, it  thas that timeless connection with both environment and history.'

Stange, whose bespoke kitchen and conservatory manufacturing business is based in Livingston outside Edinburgh, is the epitome of the hands-on businessman. He personally examines every plank of wood that enters his premises - often long before it’s even entered the saw mill. 'We work to exacting standards and the woods we choose have to be of the highest quality.'

Uwe Stange launched Stange Kraft five years ago and in that time it's built up a strong clientele that keeps growing largely by word-of-mouth. Price is certainly a factor. Luxury kitchens from the big high-end names you see advertised in glossy magazines often start at around £40,000 and head north pretty steeply. Uwe Stange is able to build bespoke kitchens starting at around £15,000. For that money you have a made-to-measure, hand-made kitchen that will last for decades.

A bank of walnut storage
If a splendid drinks cabinet is your heart's desire...
This contemporary style marries walnut and painted wood
A traditional style painted kitchen
This traditional kitchen has a curved frontage
The quality of the craftsmanship is superb

And you can be assured you're getting an eco-friendly product.

'All our woods are from sustainable forests - we use tulip poplar and walnut, both from the US, European oak, and Scandinavian pine for the interiors of the kitchen cabinets,' says Stange, who adds that the company prefers to avoid MDF unless the client specifies it.  'We use water-based glues and paints and we recycle what waste we have. For example, we gather up all our sawdust and farmers collect it to scatter on their fields. Off-cuts of wood we make available to people free of charge for use in their wood-burning stoves, or fires. We don't send anything to landfill.'

Stange Kraft has been working in traditional styles, to suit the great Georgian and Victorian houses of Edinburgh, but it's equally able to design contemporary wooden kitchens. 'We can meet any brief.'

Uwe Stange was born in Namibia to German parents. He spent his early working life in South Africa, training as a cabinet maker with one of the country's premier companies Hartmann & Keppler, which cites the country's government among its clients. It was a demanding apprenticeship that has stood Stänge in good stead. He, his wife and children moved to Livingston some 10 years ago to be near family, and he began to specialise in building kitchens.

 

Home office/media room
The company also builds conservatories
Cupboard interiors are wood
A plate rack
The company's stamp of authenticity
Uwe Stange
The company sends no waste to landfill, rather it supplies for free sawdust to farmers and wood offcuts to local people

Stange Kraft likes to work in close conjunction with clients, who, if they are able to, are asked to come over to the workshops at intervals to see their kitchen's progress.

And the stereo-typical German desire for efficiency and tidiness impresses from the moment you walk into the workshop.  This is no cottage industry, but it's no production line either, rather it's a space for bespoke woodturning and everything that goes with it. Taking centre stage is an industrial saw and cutting station that poses like a close cousin of Terminator. (It feels as if you’ve wandered into the secret Scottish outpost of Skynet, and is this the lair of the machines, before they set forth to conquer mankind..)

'Quality control doesn’t start with an inspection at the end of the production,' says Stange. 'That’s the very last stage of quality control. I never want to reject a piece at the end of the process -  in fact, we never have.  From delivery of the raw materials, we’re constantly checking a whole host of parameters.' And nothing is built to a standard parameter, because everything is made-to-measure.
 
Everyone needs a strapline these days, and this could well be Stange Kraft's: 'We’re not producing lifestyle choices, we’re crafting lifetime choices,' says Stange. 'The pieces we make will become part of the fabric of the home, and they can be there as long as the building exists.'
 
Kitchens are the predominant product manufactured by Stange Kraft but it also builds conservatories and undertakes cabinet work. 'We also build beautiful bookcases, storage units and cupboards,' says Stange.
 
Who adds that while the recession has been tough, the company has never been busier. People know quality..and they know value.
 
Stange Kraft is based near Edinburgh but is able to undertake kitchen projects around the UK.
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