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Carnegie designer is making her mark in area

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 11:43 a.m.
Bonita Farinelli of Carnegie works at her studio, making custom design pieces for her business, Distinctively Different Design, which is located at 103 Chestnut St. in Carnegie. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item
Bonita Farinelli poses in her Carnegie store, Distinctively Different Design, which includes artwork, jewelry and custom pillows. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item

When the Wine Loft restaurant retained interior designer Bonita Farinelli in 2008, its South Side Works building had nothing but dirt floors.

Now it boasts what House Trends Magazine called “an elegant space” with lamps, carpeting and comfortable seating.

Farinelli, who worked with contractors from the beginning of the project, considers her work a success.

“If you can walk in five years later and say, ‘What would I have done differently?' and can't think of anything, then you've done good,” Farinelli said.

Farinelli is owner and designer at Distinctively Different Decor & More, located at 103 Chestnut St. in Carnegie. Working out of the two-story building, she plans design projects as small as one room and as big as an entire house — or restaurant.

While the Wine Loft might be considered one of Farinelli's more famous projects, she also is putting the finishing touches on the Mintt Indian Cuisine restaurant in Dormont.

Other projects include Golla Center for Plastic Surgery in Fox Chapel, where the interior design features 12 different colors, as well as numerous houses in Western Pennsylvania. Farinelli said she can work on as many as five design projects at once.

Dr. Dinakar Golla, owner of the Golla Center for Plastic Surgery, said he hired Farinelli to design the living room in his house after he heard of her work at the Wine Loft. When the time came to design his Fox Chapel office in 2010, he retained her services again.

“We wanted people and patients and clients to come into that space and feel excited, energized and not like they had entered another medical office space,” Golla said. “We wanted people to feel, in essence with the colors, a little more enlivened. I feel people really do feel that way when they come in, that they love the splashes of color.”

Farinelli said she works with clients at their pace and keeps their budget in mind at all times. Her work includes a mixture of commercial and residential projects.

“I would never want to do just commercial or just residential,” she said, “because it stifles the creative impact.”

Farinelli founded her business in 2002, running it out of her Kennedy Township home. She moved her business to the Carnegie building in December 2007, which she called “the worst possible economic time to do that.”

“I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to stay small or keep moving and growing,” she said.

The Chestnut Street building was damaged in flooding from Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Farinelli said, and she worked to improve the interior and exterior looks. The Carnegie Community Development Corporation provided a match grant in the amount of $10,000 for work.

The building didn't have a sidewalk when Farinelli moved in. It now has one, as well as a brick gate, landscaping and a distinctive green awning.

“Everybody says, ‘Oh, that green awning just sets that building off,'” Farinelli said.

The first floor of the building operates as a boutique where people can buy furnishings, lighting, pillows, artwork and much more.

While Farinelli did some work at the Indian Community Center, she hasn't done any major design projects in Carnegie yet.

But Farinelli does have designs in mind for Carnegie. She believes the borough has great potential for second-floor apartments, which would help “bring Carnegie to life.”

“I'm a firm believer that Carnegie is the best-kept secret, and we've got everything to offer,” she said. “Something is always going on.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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