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Meet The Maker: Cotswold Upholsterer Toby Keylock

Meet The Maker: Cotswold Upholsterer Toby Keylock

I'm so excited to introduce the first instalment of Meet The Maker, with the wonderfully talented upholsterer, Toby Keylock! We take great pride in the artisans we partner with and this series allows us to shine a light on the individuals and teams that make The Barn possible. 

Toby and his team at Planted are a Cotswold-based upholstery studio whose work transcends both form and function to reveal the true essence of their pieces with an eye toward refined elegance. Whether an upholstered headboard or footstool, Planted are behind it.

Today on the blog, Toby shares more about his creative journey from cabinet maker to upholsterer. Read on to meet Toby and learn more about his creative path. 

cotswold upholstery with sewing machine

When and how did you learn the skills to become and upholsterer?

I originally trained as a cabinet maker, here in the Cotswolds, working while I trained and we then moved to London and I worked as a set builder. I got to see a bit of upholstery and decided it was for me. I then went to work for Savoir beds, which began my upholstery journey - they hand make traditionally upholstered, super luxurious mattresses, and then when we moved back to Cheltenham expecting our first child and I trained for 7 years with another upholsterer here working my way up through the company until I was ready to set up Cheltenham Upholstery.

Upholstery is a traditional skill, so learning one on one with another upholsterer is the best way to get the skills. I was lucky to have a great teacher, who is a very good traditional and modern upholsterer. It is something I am now teaching to Fred who has been with us for 3 years, and so the skills will continue, although we are now teaching and practising eco upholstery too

What inspired you to get into upholstery?

I have always appreciated traditional skills, and I have always made things. As a child I used to take everything apart and put it back together again. Training as a cabinet maker started it off, and is a really handy skill to have with upholstery. Working on fine pieces of furniture goes hand in hand with upholstery. Most of my working career has been to create things for peoples houses, of which I get to see an insight into what they call their homes, and this has given us a great understanding of what people want, and what’s important. There’s no better feeling than home, and so to be part of creating this is pretty special. 


What do you love most about the Cotswolds?

As mentioned, we spend a fair amount of time in all sorts of properties in the Cotswolds. There are some amazing hidden gems. I love finding a client's property, hidden away in the middle of nowhere and getting to witness its surprise. The craftsmanship and skills used to create these gems of buildings many many years ago is outstanding.

I wish new build (by new build, I mean mass built) houses were made with such consideration. Obviously, the Cotswolds also has an abundance of amazing walks in the countryside, of which we keep finding new ones! (Preferably with a pub at the end!)

What is your most memorable project?

The project that springs to mind, which was quite an odd request, was to go on site and upholster some beams in a bedroom in leather... I will leave that one there. 


What is your favourite item at The Barn?

I think Lauren has curated a really lovely collection, but I’m a sucker for large pots, so its got to be the Tarlton Glazed Vintage Pot. I really want a potters wheel at home to fill my house with large pots. I’m not sure I would be able to, but I would like to have a go! 

If you could meet any artist in history who would it be and why?

This is a bit bog standard, but I would have loved to meet Picasso. Im really drawn to the colours and forms in a lot of his work, and it's something that has really stood the test of time. I’m always admiring of people who come up with ideas that are really ahead of their time so it would be fascinating to have a chat and get an insight into that brain.

The same goes for some furniture makers, like Ercol for example, which is having a huge resurgence at the moment. It would be amazing to come up with an idea or design that lasts for much longer than your own life span. 


What's your favourite Cotswolds pub?

The Woolpack. We used to go there as teenagers with friends who lived nearby, and still go there now for a walk and good food with our own children. 

Are there any artists or designers you particularly admire?

Generally I admire makers and designers who create something built to last. Make it once, and make it properly. When this also gets incorporated into design it's a perfect match. We have worked on a lot of Halabala chairs, for The Barn and for other clients too. Bent wood arms are lovely, and ergonomic, they feel really great to sit in, and thats no mean feat! We have even bought a pair for ourselves, which will one day get reupholstered when we manage to find some time! So I’m going to say that Jindrich Halabala is a designer / maker I particularly admire. I really enjoy seeing them through the workshop in all states, brining them back to life to live on and look stylish in peoples homes. 

cotswold upholsterer with scissors

If you could have one piece of furniture for your home what would it be?

I would have a Savoir bed. I've seen inside them, I have made them, and they are amazing. I have been promising to make a similar one for us at home for about 10 years now and I haven’t. Maybe I should. 

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