Interview with a cabinetmaker-Robert Bakes

Robert Bakes (photo:

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Robert Bakes, of the full service design house Bob Bakes & Company, about his background, his kitchens, and his forthcoming kitchen pull. The Bakes Pull is a much anticipated, soon to be released high-end, versatile design contributing to the expansion of the Horton Brasses kitchen hardware line.

-coming soon-

Available in 4 different sizes for use throughout your entire kitchen, mount these pulls horizontally or vertically on cabinet doors. From larger applications like appliances and pantry doors down to narrow spice drawers and pullouts, the versatile sizing of Bakes Pulls allows you to keep a uniform, polished look throughout your kitchen. However, be prepared to mix things up because Bakes Pulls are available in all 7 of Horton Brasses’ finishes, leaving you the option of incorporating other hardware into your kitchen design.

Such background information on the design of contemporary cabinet hardware is a rarity. But at Horton Brasses, we are pleased to offer you the opportunity to get acquainted with every detail of your hardware. Because at the end of your remodel, we know you are going to have quite a few stories to tell. Here is the one about your hardware.

Deva Mirel: You are originally from England. How did you get started in cabinet making and design? 

Robert Bakes: From leaving university my first job was as a surveyor for a kitchen company, later developing into a designer and growing through the years to owning my own business.

You came to the states over 6 years ago. What prompted your move?

I came to the states in 2003 after meeting my future American wife, on vacation, in the carribean about a year and a half earlier.

Is there a significant difference between the design sensibilities of the English and the Americans?

Probably not, though if you skip thru an English magazine you’ll perhaps get the feeling that there is more real custom work coming out of the UK. US is definitely catching up, and I’d like to be at the forefront of that. Also I hadn’t heard of a framed overlay kitchen style, that is a wooden frame on a box and a door on the frame, before I came here. Its very widespread here as a mid range cabinet. In the uk it was either fully inset of European overlay, and I designed extensively with both.

The kitchens on your website generally share a simple elegance. Many feature white marble, hand painted white cabinetry, nickel hardware and touches of walnut. A very different kitchen was featured in House Beautiful last year. This one very modern with rich walnut cabinetry. Although dissimilar in style, there seems to be elements worth repeating–the Pelham pendant lighting, white stone tops and a warmth exuded by the cabinetry that invites one into the space. How do you manage to achieve this feeling across different design styles?

I design everything from the ground up, nothing is “standard.” We use custom stain colours, custom sheens, in the walnut one there was a beautiful variety of texture in the stained walnut, brought out by the very flat lacquer finish. The eye’s not distracted by glare when the lacquer is very dull, you really see the texture of the wood. Its my favourite finish next to white. I had a great deal of experience from the UK in the more modern kitchen, and the cross over is very exciting.


Your walnut cabinetry is inspired. Do you have a favorite wood to work with?

Walnut, when its lightly stained it has such a warmth. And you can mix in a lot of colour, I have a light blue antique kitchen at home, mixed with splashes of walnut.


How did your design for the Bakes & Company Pull come about?

I had been looking for a really nice fridge pull for some time, and really didn’t see anything that worked  to really help the cabinetry shine. I had been working with Ian at Martins for a number of years and ran the basic design thru him, we played around with it a little and came up with the fridge pull. It’s a heavy, beautifully made, wonderfully functional and tactile handle, better than we had anticipated. Polished nickel is my favourite and has been for some time, though I’m seeing a resurgence in popularity for polished chrome.


In what style kitchen do you envision the Bakes & Co. Pull? To me, it seems like a very versatile, modern yet classic style.

I think the style is a real classic, it can soften a sharp contemporary kitchen or add that element of additional class to the Bakes and company colonial range, very much our staple cabinet style.


Should we look forward to more hardware designs from Bakes & Company in the future?

I am currently working on a final design for a inset bar handle to work specifically with the walnut kitchen mentioned earlier. It should be ready in a couple of weeks. And to complete the Bakes and Company pull, I will have a complimentary door fitting , some kind of knob, coming out later this year.