Best of Boston Home 2011

| Boston Home |

In our quest to compile the ultimate guide to design and construction, we did our research just the way you would — by polling trusted industry pros, checking and cross-checking references, and pounding the pavement.

Here are the details: After issuing a survey to our extensive panel and assembling a list of contenders, we went undercover from August through October to test the recommended showrooms and service providers ourselves. Then we compared notes and, in some cases, returned for a second look. A few last-minute updates later, and behold: our most exhaustively researched roundup to date.

A timeless mix of contemporary and traditional, this is one style that’s all grown up.

Charles R. Myer & Partners
Cambridge architect Charlie Myer has created gracious, intelligently planned, and thoughtfully detailed custom homes across New England, from Brattle Street to the Berkshires. He has a profound knowledge of the regional vernacular, which he deftly uses to revive older homes or create something brand-new. Nothing is -formulaic about his thinking, yet he still manages to -perfectly nail the classic aesthetic again and again.
875 Main St., Cambridge, 617-876-9062,

S + H Construction
Pleasing hedge-funders and hedge-trimmers alike requires a skilled -workforce, strong industry relation-ships, and excellent project -management. That’s precisely how S + H has maintained its fine reputation while balancing a diverse portfolio of projects big and small. The company’s- most impressive work is also the most -challenging to builders—entire home renovations with fussy details in -historical neighborhoods.
26 New St., Cambridge, 617-876-8286,

Baranzelli Silk Surplus
This family-owned fabric mecca in downtown Boston offers floral -brocades and damasks, stripes, solids, and classic geometrics, all beautifully arranged throughout the showroom. As the name suggests, the store carries an abundance of silks, as well as cottons, wools, and blends. Baranzelli builds custom furniture, too, and offers expert reupholstering services.
113 Charles St., Boston, 617-227-1515,

Flooring and refinishing:
Frank H. Duffy
Expect every floor service imaginable- from this 83-year-old company, -including installation, waxing, and -refinishing. Because Duffy’s -craftsmen do everything by hand, you’ll find their work in some of the finest -buildings across the city, like the New England Conservatory, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
369 salem st., medford, 781-395-3418,

Furniture, upholstered:
McLaughlin Upholstering Company
Named one of the top 10 upholstery companies in the country by House & Garden, McLaughlin builds custom furniture to order. The showroom features dozens of samples in -muslin, including a replica of a stunning art deco Jules Leleu sofa. Forget foam—every piece includes down cushions, expertly placed springs, and precision-aligned fabric seams and prints. As owner and third-generation craftsman Kevin McLaughlin says, “Nothing leaves this shop unless it’s absolutely perfect.
1813 Revere Beach Pkwy., Everett, 617-389-0761,

Furniture, wood:
Thos. Moser
Imagine furniture built to time-tested New England standards: high-quality and handmade pieces that promise to last for generations. Thos. Moser’s been crafting just that since it opened in 1972. Founder Thomas Moser’s youngest son, David, is now the -company’s principal designer, and together with 100 woodworkers, he creates classic and -contemporary pieces that showcase the richness of the country’s most extraordinary black cherry, tiger maple, -walnut, and ash hardwoods.
19 Arlington St., Boston, 617-224-1245,

Frank Roop Design Interiors
Recently named one of the world’s top designers by Architectural Digest, France, Frank Roop could be -forgiven for being a tad cocky. But that’s not his style, and it shows in his irresistibly luscious interiors. All of his work—typically in grays with jewel-tone accents and unexpected fabrics—begs to be touched and used. You won’t find any of his furniture in a -showroom (it’s all bespoke), but you will find yourself longing for his incomparable flair.
224 Clarendon St., Ste. 31, Boston, 617-267-0818,

Lucía Lighting & Design
Handpainted porcelain chandeliers by Tracy Porter, polished chrome from Fredrick Ramond, and perennially- stylish wood-and-iron pieces by Country -Traditions positively glitter- in this 8,000-square-foot former mansion helmed by 20-year lighting veteran Lucy Dearborn and her -customer turned business partner, David Solimine. Outstanding service makes this showroom a standout—they’ll even make house calls for an on-site lighting diagnosis.
311 Western Ave., Lynn, 781-595-0026,

Dover Rug & Home
Dover’s selection of rugs alone puts the shop on par with Boston’s finest- carpet retailers; customer -service brings it a notch above. Owner Mahmud Jafri makes it his mission to equip -visitors with a working know-ledge of rug styles, weaving techniques, and qualities. First-time
callers may find themselves enthralled by a brief history of rug-making as Jafri and his staff help them sift through design options and identify that perfect -heirloom-worthy piece.
549 Worcester Rd. (rte. 9), Natick, 508-651-3500; 1344 Washington St., Hanover, 781-826-0010;



New England has pros aplenty committed to reviving period homes. 


Brodney Antiques & Jewelry
Since 1939 the Brodney family has amassed a mind-blowing array of -precious goods in their packed Newbury Street shop. If you can make it past the estate-jewelry cases on the first floor, you’ll find yourself upstairs among sumptuous displays of European- porcelain, glass, and china sets. While shopping for more practical wares, consider our favorite find: a rare cobalt-blue-and-gold Gorham pitcher with a sterling silver top for $2,050.
145 Newbury St., Boston, 617-536-0500,

The Barn at 17

The Barn at 17’s warehouse and -restoration workshop hold a bounty of -treasures, ranging from late-18th-century armoires to mid-20th-century credenzas. In addition, Dan McAuliffe, who co-owns the company with Jerry Freeman, can repair damaged pieces that most other dealers would leave for dead. A late-19th-century French boillait card table that he found in ruins, for example, now glistens in the showroom, its green leather top and intricate gold tooling fully restored. And if your grandmother’s bureau is suffering from years of neglect, McAuliffe can bring it back to life in just a few weeks.
17 Murdock St., Somerville, 617-625-5204,

Frank Shirley Architects
To do a restoration right, you need serious historical knowledge, something that Frank Shirley has in spades. Whether he’s completely reviving a Newburyport mansion or lifting a roof to add a third-level living space, the author of the book New Rooms for Old Houses knows how to insert -modern amenities into ancient structures without compromising their period appeal. If you’re missing the home’s original 1810 staircase, he’ll design one that even purists would swear is authentic.
75 Henry St., Cambridge, 617-547-3355,

Gregorian Oriental Rugs
Boasting more than 70 years in the trade, the Gregorian family -appreciates the amount of work that goes into making beautiful rugs. Their showroom, located in a -renovated Colonial mill, is the -perfect place to browse several thousand handwoven designs, from Sarouks to densely knotted Bidjars, the “cast-iron rugs of the East.” An entire room is devoted to antique carpets -accumulated over decades of trading, chosen as much for their beauty as for their rich histories and symbolism.
2284 Washington St., Newton Lower Falls, 617-244-2553,

Tom Payne’s team has completed jaw-dropping period restorations for the most discriminating Bostonians, which means they’re as demanding about workmanship as their clients are. Their in-house wood shop can re-create complex historical details and millwork, including -cabinetry, doors, windows, and fancy moldings. With top-to–bottom know-how, particularly in kitchens, baths, and exteriors, this -personable crew of builders and -renovators will see a custom task through from start to finish, and will likely win your affections in the process.
173 Norfolk Ave., 617-445-4323,

E. R. Butler & Co.
Beacon Hill’s E. R. Butler displays its collection of fine architectural hardware as if it were precious -jewelry. The company specializes in early American, Federal, and -Georgian hardware, all painstakingly crafted (partly by hand) to almost exactly match the original styles—save for -invisible, 21st-century improvements in function, that is. Butler also produces custom hardware to order, -collaborating with customers, architects, and designers to ensure
aesthetic perfection.

38 Charles St., Boston, 617-722-0230,

Meyer & Meyer Architecture & Interiors
Now celebrating 30 years of design savvy, Meyer & Meyer can handle a wide range of restorations with mastery. Architect John Meyer and his wife, Laura, an -interior designer, stay actively involved throughout an entire project. Together they’ve renovated Boston’s Harvard Club, the University Club, and the Public Garden’s tool house, as well as numerous high-end residences. Their finished products consistently prove that any space—big or small, antique or modern—can be stunning.
396 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-266-0555,

Yankee Craftsman
This family-owned business, housed in a classic barn, carries- a spectacular collection of glass shades and antique lights, ranging from Colonial lanterns to 1920s art deco torchères, Spanish wrought-iron candelabras, and a magnificent 400-pound chandelier- from Harvard Medical School’s -Vanderbilt Hall. Brothers- Scott, Gary, and Bruce Sweeney provide a full spectrum of lighting services, including sales, repairs, reproduction, and restoration. Their work appears in historic sites throughout the region, such as the Lyman Estate, the Boston State House, and Sudbury’s Longfellow Inn.
357 Commonwealth Rd., Wayland, 508-653-0031,

J. R. Burrows & Co.
Trained as an art historian, John -Burrows offers beautiful wallpapers based on Arts and Crafts -patterns of the late-19th century. All designs are expertly printed, sometimes requiring as many as 10 separate hand screenings to complete. See Burrows’s papers on the walls of the Aesthetic Movement gallery in the new Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts; they can also be found in MFA -director Malcolm Rogers’s own home.
393 Union St., Rockland, 781-982-1812,


In New England, contemporary design is all about balancing traditional materials and bold forms.


Kelly Monnahan Design
This year we became Monnahan fans—first when we laid eyes on his kinetic architecture for a world-class art collector at the Mandarin, then even more so when we saw the home he designed for himself in Truro. With an engineer’s attention to detail and an architect’s obsession with visual perfection, -Monnahan conjures spaces that are as beautiful as they are well scaled.
535 Albany St., Ste. 5A, Boston, 617-778-6475,

Thoughtforms specializes in both traditional and contemporary construction and renovations, but it’s the company’s modern projects that keep it at the front of the pack of regional builders. From curving green park benches to custom- steel-and-glass beach homes, this 65-person team can update, -re-create, and build the most challenging designs. Their high-end millwork shop, TFC Studios, turns out custom-built products with handmade details in a slew of materials—including stone, wood, and metal.
543 Massachusetts Ave., West Acton, 978-263-6019,

Meichi Peng Design Studio
No one in Boston can match Peng’s vigor and style; everything she touches becomes a study in elegance and grace. The thirtysomething interior designer’s prolific practice outfits many of the modern penthouses in the city. But that’s not enough to satisfy her creativity: She also runs a SoWa shop exhibiting global treasures (handpicked during her travels) and her own line of to-die-for handbags.
460 Harrison Ave., ste. A6, Boston, 617-521-8660,

Boston Design Center
Of the 18 showrooms at the Boston Design Center that offer fabric, the -Martin Group stands out. Its 6,000-square-foot space brims with bold prints, and its staffers have encyclo-pedic knowledge to help you navigate the seemingly endless possi-bilities. And up on the fourth floor is the -marvelously modern selection at Donghia, which stocks the largest range of textured, boldly geometric, and streaked -patterns we’ve seen. All of this is enough to -render the BDC the last word on -contemporary textiles in the city.
One Design Center Place, Boston, 617-449-5514,

EcoModern Design
Owned by classically trained art restorer turned eco supplier David Sanborn, this Design Center space teems with samples of alternative floor and wall coverings-, including rock-hard countertops made of -compressed paper; beautifully marbled, strand-woven poplar plank flooring; plant-embossed glass tiles; and gilded EcoLux hardwood. Thanks to the company’s talented designers and contractors, -customization and installation are a snap.
Boston Design Center, One Design Center Place, Boston, 617-261-0300,

Furniture, midcentury:
Machine Age
A wide range of boldfacers—from John Malkovich to Hollywood stylists— have visited this 9,000-square-foot waterfront showroom, where midcentury furniture, lighting, and art compete for your attention. Sure, you’ll spot classic Mies chairs and other iconic items. But thanks to the extraordinary reach of owner Normand Mainville, who celebrates his store’s 20th anniversary in 2011, you’ll also discover rare vintage finds of the highest caliber. Mainville’s talent for spotting master-pieces means you could drop a pair of 1970s Leon Rosen swivel tub chairs into your living room—for a cool $7,600.
645 Summer St., Boston, 617-464-0099,

Funiture, modern:
The Morson Collection
Contemporary furniture? Love it. Instantly recognizable (and -much-copied) standards? Not so much. For fresh, unique lines, we head to the Morson Collection, where -husband and wife Gregory and Caroline Morson handselect each European manufacturer they carry for quality and craftsmanship. (This is the only store in the U.S. that’s authorized to sell the obsessively detailed Tresserra brand.) Spanish-born -Caroline is a fount of continental -sensibility and old-world warmth, a perfect consultant for both design experts and those just venturing into the modern aesthetic.
76 Lincoln St., Boston, 617-482-2335,

Casa Design
Casa Design, Zhanna Drogobetsky’s -second major contribution to Boston’s home scene, is more boutique-y than her previous digs, Brookline -furniture showroom Italian Design. It features a smart mix of lighting fixtures, including handgathered-silk lanterns by Israel’s Aqua Creations and extraordinary chainlink suspensions by Terzani. Her talented team has plenty of design know-how, and the store offers -delivery and installation.
460 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-654-2974,

Yayla Tribal Rugs
This 30-year-old shop feels more like an outdoor bazaar than an urban showroom: Its narrow aisles are packed to the gills with designs -ranging from classic Oriental to -modernist. But that’s Yayla’s charm—more than any other retailer in the area, the store provides the thrill of the hunt. Even better, the owner channels- the profits back to the rug-making communities to promote -education, healthcare, and more.
283 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-576-3249,


The most expensive rooms are also the most difficult to design.
But in the right hands, kitchens and baths can look effortless.
Yale Appliance and Lighting

Unless you happen to make a constant- study of the appliance industry, replacing a dishwasher, oven, or refrigerator- can easily turn into an intensive project. That’s why Yale makes our “Best of” list year after year—because they educate, they take the time to listen, and they do their homework. Schedule an appointment with one of the enlightened -associates, or just come in to see what’s new. You’ll -discover a wide range of products to suit every buyer, from $600 Frigidaires to $15,000 Sub-Zeros.
296 Freeport St., Dorchester, 617-825-9253,

Bathroom fixtures:
Billie Brenner
Billie Brenner is the premier -bathroom resource for Boston architects and designers for one
simple reason: It carries everything extraordinary. The showroom overflows with cloisonné basins from Linkasink, Swiss vanities- by Laufen, and lavish gold-plated -faucets imported from France—exotics balanced with a host of solid standbys such as American Standard and Kohler. The shop is now operated by Robin Brenner, daughter of the late, great -Billie Brenner—a pioneer who believed in bringing real beauty to our most functional of rooms.
Boston Design Center, One Design Center Place, Ste. 429, Boston, 617-348-2858,

Cabinetry, classic:
Dalia Kitchen Design
Not everyone goes to Dalia Tamari for kitchen design. Then again, not everyone can afford her exquisite custom cabinetry. For the select few who can, however, this 5,000-square-foot Design Center showroom provides relief from shoddy workmanship and questionable taste. Tamari only carries lines built to last—heirloom-quality, in other words—and her own designs are just as timeless.
Boston Design Center, One Design Center Place, Ste. 635, Boston, 617-482-2566,

Cabinetry, modern:
Do contemporary kitchens belong in -Boston’s historical homes? If they’ve been fashioned by Germany-based Bulthaup, the answer is a resounding Yes. All of Bulthaup’s models are engineered to be installed in older European manses, so they’re quiet, streamlined, and -ergonomically designed to minimize cooking clutter while maximizing space. The result? A thoroughly -innovative kitchen that steals zero thunder from your home’s architecture.
200 Boylston St., Boston, 617-830-2345,

Designers and builders rely on one rock-solid resource for stone, and Cumar is it. They love this Everett-based supplier for its dizzying array of marble, granite, and onyx, hand-selected by Italian-born owner Angelo “Ivo” Cubi. But it’s the company’s dedication to craftsmanship that makes Cumar our top choice. With advanced cutting machines and its own installation team, it offers the most streamlined way to get the stone you want, when you want it.
69 Norman St., Everett, 617-389-7818,

Kitchen fixtures:
With its well-stocked showroom of fine kitchen fixtures, bathroom -furnishings, hardware, and—bonus—lighting options, Natick’s WaterSpot marks the Rhode Island–based Ardente -family’s most comprehensive move into the design trade thus far. The Natick -location is the newest of the company’s- five outlets (and the only one that doesn’t sell wholesale plumbing -supplies, WaterSpot’s original trade). Kitchen offerings run the gamut, from hammered-copper farmhouse sinks by Native Trails to elegant French Herbeau faucets. Meanwhile, the 60-year-old business’s experienced staffers provide the kind of expert design consultation you’d expect from such a well-established plumbing operation.
575 worcester st. (rte. 9), natick, 508-651-2200,

Wolfers Lighting
Illuminating task-oriented spaces like bathrooms and kitchens requires -serious know-how: You need to avoid glare, get the light where you need it most, and stay within your budget. Luckily, Wolfers’s employees are to lighting design what MIT grads are to -calculus. Whether the company is designing lighting for residential or commercial -projects, its in-store demo labs, large -inventory, and at-home consultation service guarantee that you’ll be able to look (and cook) your best.
103 N. Beacon St., Allston, 617-254-0700; 1339 Main St., Waltham, 781-890-5995;

There’s more to DiscoverTile than meets the eye. After scanning the walls (they’re literally covered with samples), open the drawers—dozens of them—and find still more styles in glass, stone, metal, and ceramic. Owner Jill Adler, driven by a longtime passion for tile as functional art, takes understandable pride in her offerings, which include handmade bronzes, custom stones, glass mosaics, recycled glass (some made from -vandalized bus stops), and a dozen types of -genuine Spanish terra cotta. Use Adler’s incredible knowledge to help guide you
through your renovation.

Boston Design Center, One Design Center Place, Ste. 647, Boston, 617-330-7900,


Building for the next generation requires rigorous research and creativity. These experts have the knowledge.

‘G’ Green Design Center
The hunt for earth-friendly goods—counter-tops, BPA-free water bottles, nontoxic paint—can be as exhausting as any home improvement project. Thankfully, Boston-ians now have a one-stop showroom for all things eco-fabulous: interior designer Nicole Goldman’s ‘G’ Green Design Center. Goldman inspires confidence by taking a stand on “green,” and refusing to be bamboozled by false claims.
28 Bates Rd., North Market, Mashpee,
508-477-7988; 134 washington st., norwell, 781-561-1221;

Zero Energy Design
Planning and building a home is one thing, but doing it with immaculate style, consideration for clients’ needs, and an expert understanding of environ-mental impact is where this end-to-end services firm really shines. The architects and engineers here are adept at integrating design, HVAC, technology, and plain-old common sense into one beautiful (and weather-tight) package. They’ll help you cut your energy bill in style, and if you want to go off-grid, they can make that happen, too.
348 Medford St., Ste. 1, Boston, 617-720-5002,

Cleaning service:
It’s not enough to have a home that’s built to be environmentally friendly. Being truly green also means giving up that chemical habit when it comes to cleaning. While most companies use potentially toxic brews, owner Joe Paiva and his specialists at EcoClean use only EPA-certified products (and some proprietary formulas). Plus, their HEPA-filter vacuums will leave your home virtually free from unwelcome -particulates, so you can take a deep, healthy breath and enjoy the clean.

Boston Green Building
Brian Butler’s 27-plus years of experience in construction and green -building, along with his team of -seasoned pros, have made Boston Green Building a model for ecologically oriented builders everywhere. Renovations, remodels, new construction, solar and geothermal- contracting, and deep-energy retro-fits are among the many services the company offers. It also partners with several nonprofit -organizations throughout the area that support and teach -sustainability.
218 Lincoln St., Allston, 617-202-3777,

Energy consultant:
Next Step Living
Next Step Living’s founder and CEO, Geoff Chapin, can help protect your home from winter’s chill. By pin-pointing areas of heat loss, he -fashions solutions big and small to reduce your energy consumption. Many of his -services, including the initial assessment, are free to Boston home-owners. Even better, sizable rebates are -available to cover the bulk of his -weatherization recommendations.
25 Drydock Ave., Boston, 866-867-8729,

TJ’s Plumbing and Heating
Tim Cutler and the crew at TJ’s -provide practical, efficient turnkey heating and plumbing services. Cutler has also developed a rare expertise for integrating geothermal units into older homes—one of the most challenging jobs for an installer. He’s candid about a given site’s potential challenges, and works on every job—which is why his business has spread almost entirely through word of mouth.
Attleboro, 508-226-5514,

F. D. Sterritt Lumber
In 2006, F. D. Sterritt became New England’s first Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody–certified lumber retailer. Since then, the 169-year-old company has experienced record growth, and is now Boston’s recognized leader in green building materials. A full-service lumberyard with a newly -refurbished kitchen -showroom, Sterritt offers ecologically sound building products, including recycled sheetrock, formaldehyde– and urea-free plywood, and responsibly harvested hardwoods (even exotics like Brazilian cherry and Mayan mahogany).
110 Arlington St., Watertown; 138 waltham St., watertown; 617-923-1480, sterritt

Salvaged materials:
Restoration Resources
The most eco-friendly way to build is to reuse materials. With a treasure trove of antique accessories, this 6,000-square-foot South End showroom makes it easy. From stained-glass windows to garden statues, you’ll find period pieces in stunning condition. If you’re looking for something specific—say, a Victorian doorknob to match the rest of your hardware—the savvy staffers at Restoration Resources can make recommendations based on style, or even hunt down the original pattern.
1946 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-3033,

Solar Design Associates
Steven Strong pretty much is solar power in this country. As founder of this 36-year-old energy-design firm, Strong has led the industry through every major milestone: He transformed ungainly solar panels- into sleek and well–integrated -photovoltaics, and he designed the first solar-powered home, then neighborhood, then Major League Baseball stadium. Even though his company dominates the solar scene, every SDA project receives individual attention and exceptional design care.
Harvard, 978-456-6855,


Great landscape design and maintenance lets us enjoy fresh air throughout the year.
New England 
Whether you’re surrounding an English garden or a horse pen, New England Woodworkers can roll out exacting, handcrafted fences, arbors, and deck rails for every style and purpose. But it’s the company’s environmental bent that makes it the hands-down winner: Every installation is built with timber from its responsibly harvested Maine tree farm or with FSC-certified hardwood.
Sagamore Beach, 508-833-5175,

Garden center:
Russell’s Garden Center
Growers, meet your utopia: five acres of horticultural bliss, from the indoor greenhouse and bookstore to perennials and annuals galore—and did we mention the workshops and seminars? Then there’s the always impressive staff. Need advice on the vagaries of growing orchids, or a primer on fixing a drooping ficus? They have the answers. And for the gardener whose thumb has yet to turn green (or maybe never will), a flower shop on the premises sells arrangements that you can take all the credit for.
397 Boston Post Rd. (Rte. 20), Wayland, 508-358-2283,

Landscape architect:
Keith LeBlanc
Success in landscape architecture requires a big-picture approach that combines space, topography, scale, and the environment into one gorgeous, all-season experience, and Keith LeBlanc has mastered this. His team produces lush landscapes that work for any project size, from award-winning urban roof terraces to a -complete 20-acre farm overhaul.
535 Albany St., Ste. 5A, Boston, 617-426-6475,

Landscape construction:
D. Schumacher Landscaping
A young company with a big-name clien-tele, D. Schumacher has earned the respect of the region’s top -landscape architecture firms through skill, dedication, and good old-fashioned fine workmanship. The -company’s crew of 130 provides a full roster of services, and is particularly strong in masonry and long-term maintenance. Schumacher himself works on-site, constantly monitoring the acres entrusted to his care.
390 Pleasant St., West Bridgewater, 508-427-7707,

Outdoor furniture:
For a city whose residents spend most of the year indoors, Boston is curiously blessed with an outstanding- resource for outdoor living. Didriks stocks just a few lines of furniture, including U.K.-based -Barlow Tyrie and -California-based Modern Outdoor. Both are matchless in design and weather resilience. And to complete your outdoor entertaining service, the store also purveys elegant Heath Ceramics -dinnerware, handmade Italian pieces by Match Pewter, and Belgian table linens from Libeco.
190 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-5700,

Pool and spa design:
South Shore Gunite Pools and Spas
South Shore Gunite’s specialty is vanishing-edge pools, which provide unobstructed views of the landscape. Challenging to build and maintain, they benefit from an installer with real -expertise—which is exactly what this 35-year-old company offers.
7 Progress Ave., Chelmsford, 800-649-8080,

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