Best of Boston Home 2011

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.

Modern


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

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Architect Kelly Monnahan creates a bit of winter magic in Truro. (Photograph by Keith LeBlanc)

Architect
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, kellymonnahan.com.

Contractor
THOUGHTFORMS

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, thoughtforms-corp.com.

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Meichi Peng’s ultra-modern interiors feature crisp detailing and warm, natural materials. (Photograph by Lucy Chen)

Designer
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, meichipeng.com.

Fabric
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 encyclopedic knowledge to help you navigate the seemingly endless possibilities. 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, bostondesign.com.

Flooring
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, ecomoderndesign.com.

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 masterpieces 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, machine-age.com.

Caroline Morson of The Morson Collection

“I’m very fortunate because this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was about six years old.” —Caroline Morson, co-owner, The Morson Collection (Photograph by Jarrod McCabe)

Furniture, 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, themorsoncollection.com.

Lighting
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, casadesignboston.com.

Rugs
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, yayla.com