28 Nov 2016

We Bought a House + Visiting the DFS Design Studio in Derbyshire

We bought a house! That's right, me + Hollie finally did it. Over the next few months expect to see a lot more home-related stuff on Buckets & Spades! It's mad actually, everything happened so quickly. I have loads to share about the whole buying-a-house process; being accepted for a mortgage as a freelancer, all that legal business, obstacles we've came up against, and a bunch more positive stuff too!

We'll be moving any day now and I plan to document the whole move, so make sure to follow along with my Stories on Instagram at @mat_buckets!


In a happy coincidence, British furniture company DFS invited me down to their Derbyshire factory + design studio to learn more about their history, design processes and see first-hand how their products are made.

Did you know that DFS produce over 50% of their furniture products here in the UK, made-to-order? My preconceptions of the brand definitely led me to assume everything was made "on the cheap" in Asia, cutting corners on quality to offer constant "sales" prices. Over the course of two days my opinions of the brand were flipped on their head.

On day one we were treated to a guided tour of their main factory, just outside Nottingham (see our guide to independent Nottingham here). Along with a small group of lifestyle blogger I was given a look into the fast-paced DFS production line; taking in elements from pattern cutting, upholstery, woodwork, metalwork, hand-stitching and even had a peak into where the young apprentices practice honing their craft.

As we wandered around the factory floor I could see there was a genuine sense of pride and an all-in-it-together mentality. Day one done.

Day two was more about the design process, so we headed out early to visit the DFS studio to meet with Design Director Phillip Watkins + his team. The design team were a very close-knit group, whose experience ranged from 30-years in commercial product design to recent graduates from the neighbouring university of Nottingham Trend, specialising in textile + interior design.

For someone who is as enthusiastic about the people behind the design, as well as the finished product, it was a great to hear about how the team are able to achieve small lead-times on designs, without compromising their original ideas. It's all about creating a solid team bond and a enjoyable working environment.

Three photos above by John of Everyday Man

Our next task of the day was to get involved with upholstering our very own DFS chair  myself and blogger buddy, John of Everyday Man, teamed up to piece together one of the Zinc Armchairs. We were given 30 minutes to get the arms done correctly, under supervision of resident upholster Russ. He assured us we did a sterling job, but I imagine the experts gave it another once-over after we left...

For the final part of our trip each blogger was asked to style our own room, within DFS's styling studio, located in a converted mill just down the road from the design studio. Using just the Zinc Sofa as a starting point, we were each left to our own devices (and an extensive props cupboard) to create our own moc-living room space. I chose to stick to yellow + grey, mixing them with warm wooden accessories and other subtle signatures. It was a fun way to end our visit.

So what do you reckon on my final styled room, and were you surprised as I was to hear DFS make many of their products here in the UK? It was a great way to spend a couple of days, and it definitely altered my original views on the brand.

Thanks for reading, 

I was invited to spend two days at the DFS studios,  my time on the trip was covered. All words + opinions are my own.  Thank you for taking the time to support the businesses that make this blog happen. 


  1. Congratulations on buying the house!! Looking forward to all the home-related posts :)

  2. I have the Zinc sofa in blue and I love it! Massive congrats on the house, guys.

    Becky ⋮ a c c o o o h t r e m e n t s . w o r d p r e s s . c o m

  3. Gemma S20:23

    Congratulations on the house, wonderful news! I love that they make so many in the UK, I got mine from dfs. There was an issue with some machine oil on the pale sofa fabric on ours and they came and brought a full set of new cushion covers so now we have a spare. Great service.

  4. You're gonna get 'em!

  5. Good job with the armchair guys. You're not the only one who had doubts about DFS, but it's great to hear they are producing so much just up the road from me. As for your styled room, let's talk about that ladder in the corner.

    Jordan Bunker | Men's Fashion and Lifestyle Blog

  6. Yeah it's always good to hear more about companies that are doing good things, i too was suprised. They're going through a lot of change / rebranding at the moment and it defo makes me thing differently

  7. Oh do you?! Thanks Becky, bit move!

  8. Great post. I'm getting the Zinc sofa any day now and can't wait! Nice to know a bit more about the process that goes into creating something that I'll be spending a lot of time on over the next few years.

    We also bought our first place late last year, too. Stressful, but so worth it.


Thank you for taking the time out of your day to comment. Please leave your URL so we can visit your site.