Belvisi Kitchens & Furniture in Cambridge offers advice on the coming season
As its name implies, Belvisi Kitchen & Furniture has the credentials to furnish any room in the house, reflecting the recent trend towards open-plan living areas. The family-run business, which has a showroom is in Newmarket Road, was started by husband and wife Silvio and Francesca Sparagna, who next year will celebrate a decade of trading.
In 2008, having called Cambridge home for 18 years, the couple spotted a gap in the market to provide beautiful Italian furniture direct to the heart of the city. On the advice of a friend, they took the plunge and embarked upon what Fran describes as a “crazy adventure”.
Belvisi rapidly blossomed into one of East Anglia’s foremost luxury Italian furniture stores. Today, Fran and Silvio continue to provide a full interior design service to satisfied clients across the country.
The business goes from strength to strength, with its kitchens popping up in various new-build developments in and around Cambridge, and there is even talk of possibly moving to bigger premises.
A visit to its showroom offers a chance to enjoy an espresso and see how a range of top Italian furniture brands like SMA, Artigiano, Calligaris and Bonaldo can bring style and sophistication to your home.
Fran provided a run-down on what is currently popular...
“As far as kitchens are concerned, matte is the new gloss,” said Fran, who hails from Gaeta in central Italy, between Rome and Naples. “People tend to go for the matte finish, and what is becoming very popular lately is creating an open space between the kitchen, dining room and living room.
“It’s also becoming very popular to integrate the appliances, which is good because you can integrate the fridge and the oven and get a nice simple clean line where you don’t see any free-standing appliances. It’s all hidden away so you can create a sense of flow. It also keeps the worktop nice and clean.
“The kitchen is becoming the heart of the house, where people tend to entertain and socialise. It’s nice while you’re doing your cooking that you have your dining room open, so if you have guests round you can talk to them while you do your preparation.”
Fran noted that grey and white are the kitchen colours of choice at the moment, and a certain material is making a comeback. “Wood is coming back,” she said. “A nice mix of walnut and white is becoming very popular.”
“The kids’ furniture that we sell is very popular because it is a modular composition,” explained Fran. “It comes in many different sizes and has a good modularity.
“What I love about this furniture is that it’s available in many different colours so kids can really create a personal room by mixing and matching the colours they love.
“The handles come in different shapes, so if a child is really into Lego we have little Lego handles we can use on drawers and wardrobes. We can really create a personal room for the kids to enjoy, playing and studying as well.”
Belvisi’s children’s furniture has attractive and unique features, guaranteed to surprise and delight.
“I love the type of kids’ furniture we use because it’s got hidden storage,” said Fran. “For example, each step on the step staircase [leading up to the bed] is a container – very handy for storing toys.
“Kids love it because they use it like a little playhouse; it keeps them busy.”
Such little quirks, which also include a whiteboard that can be pulled down and used as a bed, are common in Italy. “The hidden bed is very popular because you pull it down when it’s time to go to bed and then, when it’s time to wake up, you hide the bed again and you have the free space,” said Fran.
“The kids’ rooms that we sell are rooms that your child can grow into and use into their teenage years, if they are well planned and you choose the right colours.
“When I say picking the right colours, it’s good to choose sensibly because if you choose pink, for example, they might get fed up with it when they grow up. I would always advise sticking with neutral colours.”
“It’s nice to have a comfortable table but it’s more important to have comfortable chairs,” suggested Fran, “where you can sit and really relax and enjoy the food and the company. Lately, people have tended to go for a very simple, minimalistic table and play around with the colours of the chairs.
“The chairs we sell come in different finishes so we can create a fun atmosphere around the dining table.”
Fran added: “In terms of chairs, colours like grey are very popular, and also mustard yellow.”
Discussing the importance of the new season, she concluded: “Spring is not just about spring cleaning. The sun is coming out and it’s time to look into the room and provide a new, fresh look.
“Again, it’s advisable to choose the colours wisely – and you can always add colour by bringing in accessories like cushions, rugs, mirrors or a nice vase.
“The main colours this year for us are still taupe, the greyish finish. It’s still very popular because it’s a very neutral colour.”
Belvisi Kitchen & Furniture, 132 Newmarket Road, Cambridge CB5 8HE, 01223 32746 firstname.lastname@example.org, belvisifurniture.co.uk.