Features: The Ultimate Philadelphia Dream House: Get That Special Touch

We asked designers where they go to make their homes one-of-a-kind. They didn’t want to tell us, but we wormed it out of them. (We have our ways …)


Filippi Brothers, Inc.,
7722 Winston Road, Chestnut Hill; 215-247-5973

SPECIALTY: For more than 50 years, they’ve been perfecting their craft, brought over from Italy—ornate hand-forged wrought iron gates, as well as ornamental interior and exterior rails. They also do iron restoration. What’s in vogue now? Custom hand-hammered interior staircase railings, especially for circular staircases. “People like the focal point of their foyer to be their staircase,” says owner George Filippi. “They are building bigger houses, so the demand for what we do has increased.”
COOL PROJECT: Hand-forged gates and fencing at an estate in Gladwyne, which took four months to make by hand. 
WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT: The fence in Rittenhouse Square; the four driveway gates at the new main entrance to Longwood Gardens.
WHO LOVES THEM: “The Filippis have the real skill of the artisan blacksmith, which shows in the way they end their ironwork, with elements like tapered scrolls or buttons,” says Fred Bissinger, of F.L. Bissinger Architects in Villanova. “Filippi not only carries out the design faithfully; they’ll suggest improvements on a design I’ve made.”
PRICE: It can take 300 hours to create an estate gate. A custom iron circular stair railing runs $300 to $1,200 per foot. You’ll pay from $5,000 to $35,000 for a driveway gate.

Worthington Forge,
3959 Stump Road, Doylestown, 215-249-0188;

SPECIALTY: Anything metal. Owner Edward Worthington will make ornamental fencing, railing, gates, even cabinets.
COOL PROJECT: Stair railings in a luxury penthouse condo in New Hope that were forged in an organic look, with vines, leaves and branches.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT: Worthington is responsible for all the hand-forged door handles and hand-hammered jewelry cases at Anthropologie stores, as well as the early-1800s-looking hand-wrought fencing at the Doylestown Historical Society, with unique cube-top posts.
WHO LOVES HIM: Designer Mary Ann Kleschick works with Worthington because he does things the old-world way. “There are so many people who tell you things can’t be done. Ed never does, and he works with the most difficult medium—wrought iron.” Michael Ryan, of Michael Ryan Architects in Loveladies and Old City, has used him for a modern look—to make dining room table bases (with lava, marble or granite tops), end tables, fireplace enclosures, even tea carts. Worthington once made Ryan a 1,150-pound dining room hutch.
PRICE: From $5,000 to $20,000 for driveway gates; railings are $200 to $500 a running foot; dining room tables from $3,000 to $9,000.

J.M. Caldwell Co., Inc.,
322 E Turner Lane;

SPECIALTY: Bringing old metal back to life, or creating new custom pieces.
COOL PROJECT: Owner Jim Caldwell is currently making an iron and steel driveway gate for a Mar-a-Lago-like estate in Chester County; each 12-foot door weighs in at 1,800 pounds.
WHO LOVES HIM: “Jim has made everything from knobs and light fixtures to tables out of metal for us,” says Barbara Gisel, of Barbara Gisel Design in Haverford. “When we’re doing a renovation, he will take down all of the brass fixtures in the house and polish, lacquer and reinstall them. He’ll also do that with light fixtures and decorative gates. It’s hard to find someone to do that.”
PRICE: Iron fencing from $100 on up.

Veyko, 216 Fairmount Avenue,
215-928-1349; veyko.com

SPECIALTY: Architects Richard Goloveyko and Lisa Neely not only design cool spaces; they use metal to make customized modern, clean-lined gates, railings, staircases and furniture for other architects, including Wesley Wei, Cecil Baker and Amburn Jarosinski. Neely calls their work “big jewelry,” because it’s the one element that in the end sets off a space. They also have a line of ultramodern furniture you can order online. (Check out the fabulous pivoting screen with translucent panels that rotate open and closed.)
COOL PROJECT: A one-ton dining room table made of steel for Calvin Klein.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT: A pair of car gates for the Lippincott building on Washington Square; benches at Penn’s School of Architecture; stone fixtures for Barneys New York and Calvin Klein in New York; bronze window frames for the largest synagogue in New York.
WHO LOVES THEM: Amburn Jarosinski Architects, of Old City, can’t get enough of Veyko. “They did a rear deck on Spruce Street for an art-collecting couple, out of painted steel with perforated steel screens. It had an Asian feeling to it,” says David Amburn.
PRICE: $300 a foot and up for custom stainless steel railings.  b

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