In this modern world of fast fixes, cookie-cutter design and mass production, it is little wonder people are starting to yearn for the good old days of bespoke design, quality workmanship and great customer service.
While massive chain stores that offer cheap and cheerful flat-pack solutions for kitting out a home have their place, there’s something undeniably appealing about installing a custom-made walk-in robe that has been made to measure with utmost attention to detail and careful planning – all delivered with personalised customer care.
When Caroline and Graham Powney set up Alliance Robes here in Western Australia, not long after moving from England, the couple knew they didn’t want to offer the same thing that everyone else provided.
With Graham’s passion for innovation, attention to detail and years of experience as a qualified cabinetmaker and Caroline’s charismatic flair and gift for customer service, the pair decided they’d focus on what came naturally to them. It’s a decision which has hit the spot with new home builders and renovators alike who want dressing rooms, robes, home offices or built-in storage that tick all the boxes.
“Some of our customers have had to make do or settle for good enough all their lives and they get to a point where they are determined to have exactly what they want and that’s what we give them,” Caroline says.
Other customers want to replicate the original style of their renovation or create something that fits perfectly into an existing nook. Simply adding something on that isn’t sympathetic with its surrounds is not an option. There’s no corner cutting at all when it comes to Graham’s work.
“When our clients realise they can have something that is made especially for their needs, that is beautiful and functional and it makes their life easier, it makes them so happy,” Caroline says.
The magic happens in the business’ massive workshop in Neerabup, north of Perth, where Graham and his team of highly skilled craftsmen meticulously create each and every order.
The whole process begins with the client meeting one of Alliance’s designers. The brief is discussed, measurements are taken and plans are drawn up.
Graham’s passion for innovation means he is constantly creating new concepts to make his work more aesthetically appealing and user-friendly and these are always integrated into a client’s design.
But that doesn’t always mean customers get exactly what they ask for. Sometimes a request is just not practical and Graham and his team won’t waste customers’ time or money building something that won’t last the test of time.
“Sometimes part of the service is that we have to know when to say no, because we only want our customers to have the best possible outcome. But having said that, there is always a solution and the key is to work through issues and come up with a better option,” he says.
Alliance can build classic, budget-friendly robes right through to elaborate high-end dressing rooms with all the bells and whistles such as concealed jewellery drawers, valet stands, mini ironing boards and exquisite shoe racks.
“When people come into our Subiaco showroom and walk into our dressing room, their eyes light up,” Caroline says. “You can see them thinking,”I just have to have this”.
When the order lands in the workshop, the painstaking process of putting it together begins. Each component is cut out by hand. There’s no machine to simply stamp out the same piece, over and over again like those used in other workshops.
And then the magic starts. Each piece is routed, seamlessly joined, and painted with up to seven coats of paint. Fine decorative details are added and after what will often amount to several weeks of work, the finished piece emerges, silky smooth and perfectly functional.
For Graham and Caroline, the hard work and attention to detail does not end there, with Alliance Robes only installed by its employees.
“We don’t use sub-contractors” Caroline says.”We only want to send someone into our clients’ homes when we can be absolutely sure they will do the job properly, treating the customer and their property with respect. We don’t want our customers worrying that they will have someone unreliable and messy in their home. That’s not part of the experience we offer.”
Visit Alliance Robes to find out more or see the showroom at 55 Salvado Road, Subiaco.