Innovating the Present by Preserving the Past

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You don’t have to be a professional architect or designer to appreciate the splendor of Parisian architecture. Unlike many modern cities, Paris didn’t tear down the old to build the new. While some lesser sound buildings have succumbed to the tests of time, many of Paris’ architecture remains intact. Not only has Paris preserved over 1,000 years of building and architecture, they have left it visible, viable, and essential to the way the city operates today.


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A millennium of Parisian history is reflected in its buildings: from the massive stone churches of the Medieval era, to the pointed arches and flying buttresses of the gothic period; from Renaissance buildings that pay homage to the human form, to the architectural symmetry and Mansard roofs of the Baroque; from the art nouveau Metro entrances, to the modern glass pyramid of the Louvre.  Parisian buildings have always been a reflection of not just political, social and economic trends, but of the unique and charismatic leaders who have risen to power.

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Perhaps the most impressive feature of Parisian architecture is how the city has embraced adaptive reuse of its historic buildings.  Churches have been converted to apartments, train stations have been turned into museums, old warehouses are home to restaurants, offices and art studios. This adaptive reuse is also reflected of the current political, social and economic environment, as Parisian architects work to introduce sustainability and green building into these historic buildings.

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Paris is a stunning example of the blending of old and new that we at Ferrarini & Company embrace in our luxury designs.  You don’t have to tear out the history of your home to make it modern and fresh. Maybe you have exposed brick, original beams, or stained-glass windows that you love.  Keep them! We can work them into a custom design for your space. Let us help you preserve the history of your home, so you can add to it for decades to come.

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Tiles for Miles

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As my family and I travel the world, I have the opportunity to experience first-hand some of the most exquisite homes, designs, and architecture. I am excited to share with you some of my favorite locations, and introduce you to some of the most magnificent architecture, color, art, and furnishings that the world has to offer.


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Often the world’s most stunning architecture and design is deeply rooted in culture, and Portugal’s vibrant tiles, known as azulejos, are no different.  Azulejos originated in the 13th century, and were originally simple geometric patterns, often in white and blue.  But, like most art, they have evolved over centuries to reflect the changes in history, politics, religion and culture of the country.  With this evolution came the introduction of various colors and patterns. While in Portugal, we saw them everywhere-rail stations, subway walls, homes, churches, bars, even as pavement! Every wall, every building, nearly every crevice is decorated with vibrant tile.  Portugal has great pride in their history and culture and they aren’t afraid to show it off! 

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There is no better example of design as an expression of self as the azulejos of Portugal. The entire history and culture of the country is expressed through their tiles.

As you consider your own style, your own self, don’t be limited by colors and catalogs.  Look around! Find inspiration in your history, your family’s heritage, the places you love and cherish. Your space should tell your story. Let us help you tell yours!

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Adding Jewelry to Dress Up Your Kitchen


Adding Adornment To Your Cabinetry

Just as finishing your outfit can be achieved by the perfect jewelry, your space receives it’s finishing touch with the cabinetry hardware.  Here at Ferrarini, we like to refer to the hardware as the jewelry.  These days, between the crystal, the sparkle, the sheen of the metallics, it is easy to understand the comparison.  The right hardware can add the perfect blend of luxury to compliment your kitchen, in the same way that a perfect set of earrings adds just right amount of sparkle to your ensemble. The hardware is something you might quickly overlook, but once viewed as the jewelry of your kitchen they will become unforgettable.


One of the first things I ask a client to do once we get to the hardware stage of our material selection process is to feel the hardware, just as you would try on a fine piece of jewelry. It is so important that the handle is comfortable, as you are going to use it multiple times a day.  Handles are different sizes for two basic reasons: the size of the cabinet they will be used to open and the size of the person’s hands that will do the opening.  It’s important to be certain that your hands are able to comfortably access the space allotted by the projection of the handle itself. 

Knobs can be an exception, as you typically grab them in a different way.  This is something we seem to have a little more fun with.  Since we see them used more commonly on doors instead of drawers, we don’t need to worry about the functional aspect of how it’s held because there is not usually much weight resistance.  Try adding some crystal, you may be surprised by how it compliments your lighting or your stained glass window.  




As a great ensemble of Jewelry consists of different pieces, we often recommend a culmination of decorative handles and knobs throughout your space. As shown here in our recent Elkins Park renovation (pic to the right) we implemented knobs on the wall cabinets and handles on the base. The beauty of all fine jewelry is that "there are no rules". When it comes to the placement of knobs or pulls (besides the size of the cabinet) it’s really your personal preference. What feels better to you?  What satisfies your aesthetic appetite? If you really feel daring switch it up by using both knobs and handles on doors and drawers alike (see example here). For a more conservative approach simply base your choices on the size of the cabinet. Sometimes we accent smaller cabinets, such as the sink base (when using a farm sink) and the cabinet above the refrigerator with knobs, but use handles elsewhere in the kitchen.



As materiality goes, you can either compliment or contrast your door color.  In our Farmhouse Bath renovation, we complimented the warmth of the wood with beautiful and rustic bronze hardware.   While the color and style adds to the overall look of the vanity, it doesn't jump out at you.  It may take longer for you to notice the choice, allowing the viewer to appreciate other details first.

Our Multifunctional Oasis (shown left) is the perfect example of contrasting your cabinetry color with your hardware color.  The long polished chrome handles pop against the deep black vanity.  It’s fun for the hardware to stand out and attract attention, especially if used in combination with a simple door style. 

For our recent Center City Philadelphia renovation, we went for a sophisticated monochromatic look, a nice relationship between a brushed bronze finish and the warmth of the creamy colored cabinet.  The metallic finish adds sheen and visual interest. It’s subtle, yet special and I can’t wait to show you once the pictures are in!  Subscribe to the blog and we’ll update you... 

In the meantime remember, the hardware is the jewelry... Don’t be afraid to make a statement

About the Author: Jenine Portra is an Interior Designer at Ferrarini Kitchens. Baths. Interiors. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from Drexel University in Philadelphia.  Her side passions include painting, traveling, and cake decorating. 

5 Ways to Make Your Small Kitchen Feel Bigger

Finding creative ways to secure more space, or faking a more spacious feeling, is one of the main reasons clients decide to renovate. We at hear it so commonly in our initial consultation, “we don’t have enough space.” Occasionally, we find that to be true. Yes, you read that correctly: Occasionally. Sometimes, the space does require moving or opening walls. Often times reorganization and using our design tricks can create the feeling you’re looking to achieve. Take a look below for our five tried-and-true tips to make your kitchen feel more spacious.


White cabinets often make the space feel more spacious, simply because it is a light color that doesn’t register as prominent as darker colors.  That not to say a painted white finish is your only choice, many low texture light wood grain stains would give the same effect.  Light stained wood are starting to reappear in many new designs, especially if you appreciate a more modern space.  The emphasis here is to not create a lot of texture or visual noise with the cabinets, the most prevalent thing in the room.  White/Light colored cabinets create a seamless and airy effect.

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Since some of our most balanced spaces exist with a centralized focal point, number two is an important consideration in a small space.  In the featured kitchen, showcased in the video, we created a beautiful and tall focal point in the center of the space which allows your eye a natural place to settle.  The surrounding interior windows provide breathability and balance.   This instant understanding of the space accentuates the spacious feeling.



Although adding contrast is one of our favorite ways to create drama in a room, sometimes going monochromatic with your palette can add a sophistication and a seamlessness that your small space requires.  As shown, this kitchen (above), registers as three even solidified planes meeting.  The slight variation in color and texture between the cabinetry, countertop, backsplash and paint don’t interrupt the eye. We have also aligned a grand entry with the centralized windows which showcase a beautiful garden view. 


When designing smaller spaces, we sometimes leave about a 6-12” gap above the crown molding on the cabinet.  Especially in a narrow space, this visual break looks deliberate and helps to reinforce the idea that the cabinets are not towering over us.  


For functionality in a small space, the U shaped kitchen will supply the most usable counterspace.  If you need to cheat the space, try using a 21” or 18” deep base cabinet on one or either side(vs. The standard 24” deep) to create opportunities for storage, without sacrificing any necessary circulation space. 


Principle Designer/Co-Owner Visits Barcelona & Studies Antoni Gaudi

Principle Designer/Co-Owner Visits Barcelona & Studies Antoni Gaudi

After traveling to Barcelona to study the great Antoni Gaudi's work I fell in love. Barcelona is a very eclectic city to say the least. There is a mixture of modernity and traditionalism inter-weaved into almost every apparent element. Barcelona offers art, architecture, fine cuisine,  buzzing nightlife, a 100,000 seat soccer stadium, and even a beautiful sandy beach within minutes of the city's center. With such diversity and low cost flights, Barcelona has become one of Europe's most popular short break destinations.

As a lover of culture and a continual student of design, Barcelona served as a learning oasis. I was privileged to visit several of Antoni Gaudi's sites and spend countless hours in the halls of his attributed museums and exhibits. To just say Antoni Gaudi was a genius would be an understatement, the man was brilliantly delusional. CONTINUED...

An Exploration of the Wondrous Chestnut Hill: Water Tower

An Exploration of the Wondrous Chestnut Hill: Water Tower

After living on the cusp of Chestnut Hill for nearly two decades and designing/remodeling dozens of homes in the area, I decided to take a more studious look at the history, architecture, and industrial development of Chestnut Hill. Ironically I have traveled great distances (Italy, France, Spain, etc.) to study culture, art, and architecture, yet I've neglected to explore my very own backyard. An oversight that proved to be unwise considering I am now completely fascinated by Chestnut Hill!  This will be a 3 Part Post. This first post will focus on my exploration of the Water Tower.

My exploration started with a walking tour of the water tower and an overview of the industrial development of Chestnut Hill hosted by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and led by Architect Jean McCoubrey.  CONTINUED...