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Twenty-five years ago, Plain English founders, Katie Fontana and Tony Niblock, now creative director and managing director respectively, were building a traditional Suffolk longhouse. When it came time for the kitchen, Fontana wanted a pared-down, understated design. Imagining she would buy an off-the-peg kitchen, she was surprised to discover she couldn't find anything she liked. So the pair drew up the detailing they wanted and gave their designs to a local Suffolk joiner to build.


"I wanted straightforward cupboards, like the ones you'd see in an early Georgian scullery," said Fontana. "I am constantly inspired by Georgian joinery and furniture, with its wonderfully elegant simplicity which has never been surpassed."


When complete, they painted the kitchen, photographed it, wrapped the photographs in pretty tissue and ribbon and sent them off to glossy magazines. The reaction was immediate-from editors and then clients. A need for classic, timeless painted kitchens had been met. The first Plain English collection-Long House-was launched in 1993. Paint colors were created to capture "lost" Georgian hues with names like Starched Apron, Coal Scuttle, Boiled Dishcloth.


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This story appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of MILIEU.