For more than 30 years, Plain English has set the benchmark for kitchens of high quality, craftsmanship, and heritage. At our core is an absolute commitment to authenticity, timeless elegance, and an exacting attention to detail. Today, Plain English designs grace the homes of historic to contemporary settings, from country estates to city pied-a-terre, from grandly spacious to challengingly bijou. While still rooted in the Suffolk landscape where we first began, we have built up an enthusiastic following across the globe, which applauds our uncompromising approach to delivering – and surpassing – the rooms of which our clients dream.
Tony Niblock and Katie Fontana founded Plain English in 1992 after they commissioned a traditional, painted kitchen for a Suffolk longhouse they were building. They realised there was a gap in the market after being inundated with enquiries after the kitchen was featured in House & Garden magazine. Back in the early nineties, kitchens tended to fall into two camps: shiny, modern laminates or humble, natural woods. Katie was in search of something that reflected the elegant Georgian values of her own parents’ home, which featured beautiful examples of traditionally crafted joinery, including a capacious butler’s pantry. Rather than go to a conventional kitchen showroom, they decided to approach a local Suffolk joiner to commission a kitchen to their design and specifications, which they then painted themselves.
“After a year or so of welcoming clients to our own home, we set up shop in an old tannery and then later in a rather grand Georgian farmhouse deep in the Suffolk countryside. As the business grew we gradually converted outbuildings, barns and stables into workshops and design studios. It’s where we still make all our cupboards and kitchens today. And it’s often the re-imagining of life in this old building in its heyday – a life of genteel and bohemian aristocracy – that frames much of the inspiration for our work. The plain Georgian architecture, the simple domesticity, and of course, a very English fascination with nature, with the weather, and the seasons drifting across the landscape. Our aesthetic references the values of the past and gently evolves to embrace the modern ways we live now.”
KATIE FONTANA, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
& TONY NIBLOCK, MANAGING DIRECTOR
Today the focus of Plain English includes cabinetry for every room in the home, but what remains unaltered is the personal passion, commitment, and fine detailing at the heart of our company. If you’d like to start a conversation with our design team about your own project, get in touch with us today. We offer a complimentary design service.
For visitors in North America, please visit our US website.