Best of Boston Home 2008

Our top picks for architects, designers, furniture stores, kitchen suppliers, and more.

By | Boston Home |
best of boston home 2008

Single Speed Design’s “Big Dig House,” constructed from more than 60,000 pounds of steel and concrete salvaged from the highway project. (Photo Provided)

Accessories | Architects | Art

Contractors | Designers | Exteriors

Furniture | Kitchen & Bath | Supplies

Accessories


best of boston home 2008

Koo de Kir’s accessory-packed shelves draw hip-hunters to the Beacon Hill boutique. (Photo by Erin Ogden)

Accessories, Contemporary
KOO DE KIR

Beacon Hill, land of brownstones and Brahmins, could have stayed stuffy. But Kristine Irving shook it up a decade ago when she opened this contemporary home shop, finally making cutting-edge design safe for bluebloods. Here you can find sleek Eva Zeisel vases, sheepskin rugs, and photographer Jefferson Hayman’s work. Irving’s avant-garde accessories continue to keep the Hill au courant, and she’s added an interior decorating business next door, too.

65 Chestnut St., Boston, 617-723-8111, koodekir.com

Accessories, Bar
LEKKER UNIQUE HOME FURNISHINGS

Germans have mastered engineering and, apparently, tippling, as evidenced by the Teutonic-designed barware that we found at Lekker. Owner Natalie van Dijk Carpenter stocks her hip, loftlike South End shop with stainless steel accessories like the obligatory five-piece tool set, wine chillers, and openers. You’ll also find elusive olive spoons, wall-mounted wine holders, and high-style foil cutters, not to mention the coolest-looking glassware around.

1317 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-6464, lekkerhome.com

Accessories, Eco-Friendly
GREENWARD

Cambridge, of all places, lacked a first-class, eco-friendly home accessories shop until Greenward arrived last year. Owner Scott Walter, a former urban planner, curates the selection of tapered soy candles, sleek bamboo serving pieces, and chic recycled stationery with a keen design eye. He also offers hard-core environmental wares like kitchen composters and nontoxic cleaners.

1776 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-395-1338, greenwardshop.com

 Accessories, Fireplace
ENERGY UNLIMITED OF NEW ENGLAND

If the season’s first snowfall sends you slinking toward the couch (rather than sprinting for your skis), head to this cozy shop to browse a wide collection of andirons and grates while basking in the warmth cast by dozens of hearths. The upscale options—including made-to-order marble mantles and Design Specialties glass fireplace doors—will have your Killington-loving friends begging to come to your lodge instead.

303 Boston Post Rd., Wayland, 508-358-7358, energyunltd.com

Accessories, General Excellence
LOUIS BOSTON

Rather than making your usual beeline for Louis’s higher levels, linger on the first floor, a veritable candy store for those seeking rare décor and design treats. Vintage glass and silver tableware mingle with soft Unfed sheets and Côté Bastide soaps. Indulge in Fauchon chocolates among the antique, the extraordinary, and the ultraluxurious.

234 Berkeley St., Boston, 800-225-5135, louisboston.com

Accessories, Home Office
LEKKER UNIQUE HOME FURNISHINGS

Who says office supplies aren’t sexy? Anyone who’s browsed Lekker’s ever growing collection of sleek trash cans, paperweights, and desk clocks will tell you: If these items don’t sharpen your pencil, you’re missing the point.

1317 Washington St., Boston, 617-642-6464, lekkerhome.com

Accessories, North
WISHBASKET

Beware, spare minimalists: The warm, relaxed furniture and accents at Wishbasket—like Cisco Brothers furniture, Dash & Albert rugs, Pine Cone Hill bedding (in unexpected patterns and bold, punch-drunk colors), and Stonewall Kitchen treats—may seduce you into reconsidering your décor tactics.

The Tannery, Mill No. 1, 50 Water St., Newburyport, 978-465-1515

Accessories, South
LA PETITE MAISON

Magnifique! La Petite Maison in Hingham is a little bit Provence and a little bit Paris. The owner travels regularly to France to shop the markets, bringing back only the best of the best. Antique silver and Avignon ceramics adorn Garnier Thibaut table linens. Its Yves Delorme sheets would look très belle in any maison.

142 North St., Hingham, 781-741-8393, lapetitemaison.us

Accessories, Traditional
BLUE PEACOCK

Susanne Csongor brought offbeat preppy style to the area when she opened her colorful home shop in 2006. Her pastel tartan throws and Day-Glo pillows are ideal for risk takers. More conservative decorators can stick with Csongor’s collection of burlwood bowls, silver sand dollars, and porcelain trays.

264 Bay Rd., South Hamilton, 978-468-1228, bluepeacock.com

Accessories, West
NESTING ON MAIN

Weave vintage into your decor at this second-floor shop perched above Concord’s charming town center. Antique signs, tables, cabinet knobs, and hundreds of other treasures will transform an ordinary house into a history-rich home in minutes.

44 Main St., Concord, 978-369-4133

best of boston home 2008

Anichini quilts and SDH Marrakesh shams at Back Bay’s Lavender Home & Table. (Photo Provided)

Bedding
LAVENDER HOME & TABLE

Lavender, science tells us, is excellent for promoting rest and relaxation, which perfectly describes the European luxury goods in this eponymous Newbury Street shop. The resident Jack Russell terrier, Ginger, asleep in her basket, demonstrates the soporific effect of Lavender’s genuine linen sheets by Libeco, damasks by Le Jacquard Francais, and joyful printed cottons by Beauville.

173 Newbury St., Boston, 617-437-1102

best of boston home 2008

A bouquet of orchids and seasonal greens from Twig on Tremont Street. (Photo Provided)

Flowers, Boston
TWIG

Exquisite blooms need not come wrapped in attitude. Nor should they be masked by feathery fillers. The cheerful artists at Twig keep each arrangement classically clean. This neighborhood flower shop’s two Boston locations always stock dewy seasonal buds and plants, and they cater to both preorders and walk-ins.

558 Tremont St., Boston; 506 Commonwealth Ave., Boston; 617-292-8944

Flowers, North
J. WROBEL

The floral artists at J. Wrobel have spent more than a decade creating alluring nosegays for parties and weddings. These petal purveyors are well known for innovative—but not over the top—arrangements. Their bold, color-themed bouquets and sculptural bunches of white roses interlaced with berries exude grace and sophistication.

77 Turnpike Rd., Ipswich, 978-412-7710, jwrobel.com

 Flowers, South
WINSTON FLOWERS

Impeccable service and nicely situated shops have given Winston a well-deserved reputation. Known for uncomplicated (yet gorgeous), modern arrangements, it also features an exceptionally knowledgeable staff. Anyone looking to impress—or send a heartfelt “I’m sorry”—will hit the mark with a bouquet from this local institution.

8 Main St., Hingham, 800-457-4901, winstonflowers.com

Flowers, West
FLOWERS AT THE DEPOT

The perennially fresh blossoms at Flowers at the Depot run from kaleidoscopic Gerbera daisies to elaborate rose, hydrangea, and lily constructions. The amiable, savvy designers are nimble—most arrangements can be picked up within 24 hours.

10 Muzzey St., Lexington, 781-863-1108, flowersatthedepot.com

Tableware
BLISS HOME

A mind-boggling array of china and flatware gives Bliss top registry status in Boston, while unconventional pieces like geometric salt shakers and sculptural cake stands make the shop a go-to for those who thought they had everything. Be sure to ask owner Panamai Manadee to steer you toward her newest follies—you’ll be surprised at what you missed the first time around.

121 Newbury St., Boston, 617-421-5544, blisshome.com

Architects


best of boston home 2008

Single Speed Design’s “Big Dig House,” constructed from more than 60,000 pounds of steel and concrete salvaged from the highway project. (Photo Provided)

Architect, Contemporary
SINGLE SPEED DESIGN

If you read the New Yorker, the Financial Times, or Dwell magazine, then you probably already know about this trio of young architects, celebrated as much for their edgy, modern vibe as for their inventive, environmental solutions. Single Speed’s best-known building is the Big Dig House in Lexington (shown at left), constructed from materials salvaged from—you guessed it—the Big Dig. They also have a few city projects, including the eye-catchingly incongruous Valentine Houses in Cambridgeport. National and international accolades are piling up, so move fast if you want a piece of these talented, thoughtful designers.

171 Brookline St., Cambridge, 617-576-9300, ssdarchitecture.com

Architect, Eco-Friendly
DEREK BLOOM ARCHITECTS

A dome made out of recycled hay bales may be “green,” but most clients want a place that actually looks and feels like a house. Derek Bloom gets it—whether he’s planning a Maine cabin that maximizes sunlight while using local materials, or renovating a Back Bay townhouse with a new geothermal heating system. Bloom knows that green design requires exacting attention to material choices, energy-system design, the orientation of windows and doors, and a neat, compact floor plan.

16 Bassett St., Marblehead, 617-470-3164, derekbloomarchitects.com

best of boston home 2008

A dramatic living room by Boston’s Office dA.

Architect, General Excellence
OFFICE DA

Monica Ponce de Leon and Nader Tehrani are the most detail-oriented and pioneering design team in Boston. They make a living out of sweating the small stuff: It’s not a stone wall, it’s an opportunity to explore everything a mason can do. Their restaurants include Mantra and Bin 26 Enoteca, places where their everything-but-the-kitchen-sink design mentality doesn’t stop at, well, the kitchen sink. Though they do only a few projects a year, you might be able to get into one of their newest creations: South Boston’s innovative and environmentally friendly MacAllen building.

1920 Washington St., #2, 617-541-5540, officeda.com

Architect, Historic Renovations
FRANK SHIRLEY ARCHITECTS

Frank Shirley is a purist. According to him, “Colonial” is a meaningless term in architectural lingo. And he would know. He wrote the book on renovating historical homes. Literally. It’s called New Rooms for Old Houses. He’ll get hot under the collar if you ask him to replace your old windows, yet you’ll adore him when he lavishes love on your centuries-old edifice. He’s dogmatic and occasionally difficult, but to prevail upon contractors to build the old-fashioned way, he’s gotta be.

75 Henry St., Cambridge, 617-547-3355, frankshirleyarchitects.com

Architect, Nontraditional
ANHAMIAN-WINTON ARCHITECTS

Steeped in the contemporary tradition, this pair of Harvard-bred innovators recently broke ground on a Charles River boathouse that will show off the pure modernist aesthetic they’re known for—one that makes even the staunchest traditionalists take pause and reconsider. Though their best residential work is currently outside the city, we think it’s just a matter of time before Bostonians wise up and start placing orders.

650 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-577-7400, anhamian-winton.com

Architect, North
SIEMASKO & VERBRIDGE

If you’re looking to blow your hedge fund bonus by building a Beverly Farms chateau that’s the envy of everyone you’ve ever known, call Thad and Jean. This husband-and-wife team (he’s an architect, she’s an interior designer) will design a nouveau castle complete with multiple gables and chimneys, elaborate staircases, and a master bath for you and 15 of your closest friends. Then they’ll deck it out in Architectural Digest-ready fabrics, finishes, and furniture.

126 Dodge St., Beverly, 978-927-3745, svdesign.com

best of boston home 2008

A Cape Cod modern by Falmouth architect Mark Hutker.

 Architect, South
HUTKER ARCHITECTS

Cape and Vineyard devotees count on Mark Hutker’s team to do it right, whether they want a house that speaks the new regional vernacular or sticks to the more traditional, shingle-style design. These architects have mastered an impressive range of New England aesthetics—and know just about every contractor in the region.

217 Clinton Ave., Falmouth, 508-540-0048, hutkerarchitects.com

Architect, Traditional
ALBERT, RIGHTER & TITTMANN ARCHITECTS

Refined. Patrician. Stunning. Finely crafted. Steeped in the grandest traditions. Shall we go on? There is nothing more divine than an “AlRiTi” estate: Each is an anti-McMansion built to exacting specifications, yet with an appreciation for the irreverent. The trio of Yale-trained architects at this firm labor over every detail to create a timeless design that’s worth the investment. These are homes that stay in the family for generations.

8 Winter St., Boston, 617-451-5740, alriti.com

Architect, West
THE CLASSIC GROUP

The Georgian mansion (done right) is a thing of beauty, and these guys cherish both historical precedents and modern construction. The bonus is that they’re a design-build firm: They can construct your fantasy using in-house project managers, carpenters, and contractors, meaning you’ll know how much it’s going to cost up front.

420 Bedford St., Ste. 200, Lexington, 781-761-1299

Art


best of boston home 2008

A mural by Arteriors. (Photo Provided)

 Faux Finishes & Murals
ARTERIORS

Murals dance a thin line between clever and cornball. The work of Natick-based Arteriors, however, always errs on the side of good taste. Husband-and-wife team Amiel and Stephanie Mesner can paint detailed exotic landscapes (think Provençal scenes), kid-approved backdrops, and intricate still lifes that look like modern-day Michelangelos. Their faux-finishing repertoire includes Venetian plaster and graphic paint layers.

45 Lakeview Ave., Natick, 508-655-1942, arteriorsfaux.com

Framing
CAMBRIDGE FRAMERY

A great framing job can elevate decent artwork to masterpiece status, so seek out the folks at this Cantabrigian standout. They’ll work tirelessly to find that perfect frame, mat, and molding, and then assemble them with care, adding “pop” to your recently acquired Matisse. Plus, the Cambridge Framery promises your art will last, thanks to museum-quality techniques that protect your investment from environmental elements.

110 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-864-4487, cambridgeframery.com

Gallery, Contemporary
BERNARD TOALE GALLERY

Bernard Toale, a longtime fixture on the Boston art scene, moved his gallery from Newbury Street to SoWa (south of Washington) in 1998—just before that section of the South End got hip (and monikered). Most artists are well-established, internationally known painters, photographers, and sculptors, but he does offer up an occasional nascent genius as well.

450 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-482-2477

best of boston home 2008

Paintings by José Goncalves at the Judi Rotenberg Gallery. (Photo Provided)

Gallery, General Excellence
JUDI ROTENBERG GALLERY

One of the oldest independent galleries in Boston, this Newbury institution continues to operate under its 1971 credo that experimental, bold, and colorful are worth the investment. Mediums range from video to installation-based works, abstract assemblages, and local scenes painted by Rotenberg herself.

130 Newbury St., Boston, 617-437-1518, judirotenberg.com

Gallery, North
THE PROJECT ROOM AT TAN KALLOCHS’S ART STUDIO

Herald your liberal agenda with socially and culturally provocative art from this converted-garage gallery in Malden, founded seven years ago by art-biz extraordinaire Sand T. This “unincorporated private entity,” formerly called
ArtSpace@16, is actively trying to build an arts community in Malden for displaced creative types (like those from Fort Point Channel) by linking them with gallery owners and private collectors.

16 Princeton Rd., Malden, 781-321-8058, artspaceat16.com

Gallery, South
THE SPARROW HOUSE

Going to the Sparrow House is a full-day experience: For just $2 ($1 for children), visitors can tour surveyor Richard Sparrow’s original 1636 house and breathe in its Colonial scents, then enjoy a well-curated array of contemporary American crafts like glass vases and silver necklaces. Several times each year, the gallery also hosts an art show featuring top East Coast artists who work in traditional mediums like photography and oils. Take home an original work from the museum shop, which offers hand-crafted wooden spoons, jewelry, and ceramics.

42 Summer St., Plymouth, 508-747-1240, sparrhowhouse.com

Gallery, Traditional
AXELLE FINE ARTS

If you love Monet, if your kitchen calendar is Renoir, or if you drool over CĂ©zanne, then bring your checkbook. Highly reputable, with galleries in New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco, Axelle deals primarily in contemporary French paintings inspired by the impressionist movement. Works by Jacques Gatti and Philippe Vasseur are charmingly anachronistic in their soft-focus beauty and traditional subject matter.

91 Newbury St., Boston, 617-450-0700, axelle.com

Gallery, West
WESTBORO GALLERY

There was a time when Picasso paintings could be bought for the price of a sandwich. Those days may be long over, but if you think there is talent out there yet to be discovered, then test your hunch by gambling at this nonprofit cooperative gallery. It’s here that you’ll find work by graphic newbies trying to become the next art-world superstars. The best part is that you don’t have to break the bank to play. Spend a little or a lot—the intimate main gallery and its two satellite locations will sell you works ranging in price from $3 to $3,000.

8 W. Main St., Westborough, 508-870-0110, westborogallery.com

Contractors


best of boston home 2008

A handrail carved from a single block of wood by Payne Bouchier. (Photo Provided)

Millwork
PAYNE BOUCHIER FINE CARPENTRY

“God is in the details,” declared world-famous modernist architect Ludwig Mies Van de Rohe. If so, then the handiwork of Payne Bouchier, including stairway railings, moldings, and storage cabinets, is divinely inspired. The firm’s work is exquisitely rendered with the highest-quality materials, precise attention to detail, and thoughtfulness about clients’ needs and wants.

173 Norfolk Ave., Boston, 617-445-4323, paynebouchier.com

Audio/Video Equipment Installation
CAMBRIDGE SOUNDWORKS

In the 1970s, big speakers always meant the best in high fidelity, but in the age of the iPod, petite is preferred. Invisible is even better. The experts at Soundworks will visit your home (the initial consultation is free) to design a media system to match your space’s acoustics, then neatly conceal it behind the woodwork—or the walls, ceilings, and floors.

120 Water St., North Andover, 978-623-4400, cambridgesoundworks.com

Builder
THOUGHTFORMS

On the other hand, bigger is sometimes better, especially when it comes to Thoughtforms, one of the most established and well-staffed residential construction companies in eastern Massachusetts. Custom is their thing; modern or traditional, they do it with exquisite care. They probably can’t help you get your home equity loan (one of the few things they aren’t set up for), but they’ll definitely put it to good use.

543 Massachusetts Ave., West Acton, 978-263-6019, thoughtforms-corp.com

Cleaning Service
THE MAIDS HOME SERVICE

Dirt is such a downer, but help is at your fingertips. This national cleaning expert’s Jamaica Plain–based operation attacks grime with a 22-point checklist that includes disinfecting, straightening, dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing your home, leaving it sparkling enough for a visit from Mom. Organizing the visit is hassle-free: Not only do you get an e-mail confirmation after scheduling an appointment, but the Maids will also pick up and drop off your keys where you work.

179 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain, 617-267-0101, boston-maids.com

Electrician
JOHN VESPA ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS

Waiting for days for a subcontractor to show up may make you wonder about the state of capitalism, but Vespa’s team of experienced professionals will allay your fears, offering prompt, expert service at reasonable prices. Vespa himself explains every job with charm and patience, and his guys clean up the mess thoroughly before quitting time.

5 White Ave., Newton, 617-527-2018

Hardwood Floor Refinishing
C & R FLOORING

If you think you’ll have to move into the Holiday Inn while your floors are being refinished, we have good news for you: C & R Flooring does a beautiful job of refinishing floors with the help of some serious dust-busting equipment. (Okay, it looks like life support for a medium-size animal, but it works.) That means you can admire your shiny new surfaces as soon as they’re done—without coughing up a lung.

65 Crawford St., Needham, 781-444-1553, dustlessfloorsanding.com

Locksmith
MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE LOCK CO.

Lost your keys… again? It’s time to add this company’s number to your speed dial. The ultraprofessional, efficient, and discreet—yes, we’re still talking about locksmiths—employees work round the clock, changing locks, copying keys, and fortifying entryways. They excel at letting you in and keeping others out by installing modern safety guards, deadbolts, and, if you’re the distracted type, single-key-for-three-lock systems. Landlords and home-owners all over town rely on their top-latch, er, notch, service.

125 St. Botolph St., Boston, 617-247-9779

Organizer
CLEAR THE CLUTTER

No space is too chaotic, no room too messy, for Denise King and Ellen Potash. The savvy team behind Marblehead-based Clear the Clutter whips closets, kitchens, offices, and even garages into shape by sorting, sifting, and purging any and all types of disorder. Fast and friendly, the no-fuss, no-attitude women can help unearth long-lost mementos and get your harried life on track. They’ll even wade through storage spaces and recommend which items (your fifth-grade science experiment) to throw out and which (your fifth-grade ski sweater) to give to Goodwill.

4 Smith St., Marblehead, 781-631-9447, mycleartheclutterhome.com

Painter, Exterior
COELHO CONTRACTING

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But they also say you have only one chance to make a first impression. Because looks do sometimes matter, perk up your home’s external appearance with a paint job by family-owned Coelho Contracting. The team power-washes, seals joints, and applies your choice of paint, rendering a smooth foundation, even application, and flawless final coat.

14 William St., Medford, 781-391-0989, coelhocontracting.com

Painter, Interior
ORCUTT PAINTING COMPANY

You might not need to be Matisse to paint your interiors, but you do need to know how to deal with damaged wallboard and the anomalies of aging plaster. Rick Orcutt and his 14-member team show up promptly to correct all those little dings, scrapes, and gouges for a smooth, superior finish. (Impressionist landscapes not included.)

114 Greenwood Ave., Wakefield, 781-245-7329

Plumber
BAKER-ELMAN

Plumbing problems can be a big headache, so consider the folks from Baker-Elman a fluid fix. The seasoned pros—they’ve been in the biz for 60 years—can remedy or unclog whatever’s ailing your water heater or pipes and will even install your appliances. They pride themselves on keeping costs reasonable—even in the case of emergency service. In addition to doctoring domestic glitches, Baker-Elman can remodel bathrooms and kitchens from start to finish.

671 Saw Mill Brook Pkwy., Newton Centre, 617-244-6500, bakerelman.com

Small Repairs
HANDYMAN FRAN

Are those minor house projects adding up, challenging your domestic bliss? Hand that list off to Fran Carito. A specialist in small home-repairs, he’ll install a towel rod or change hard-to-reach light bulbs efficiently, without demanding favors or making you feel guilty for asking. And because he charges by the hour, you can knock off that chore list in increments or in one fell swoop.

23 Falmouth Rd., Watertown, 617-924-9159

Storage Service
FETCH

The only thing worse than living in cramped quarters with all your precious junk is having to haul it to a storage center and hope it will still be there when you try to reclaim it. Fetch eliminates the problem by picking up your things and storing everything neatly. The company will keep your stuff safe and organized until you call again, at which point it’ll be returned promptly to your doorstep. There’s nothing Fetch can’t do—except, of course, help you cull your pet rock collection.

888-610-1684, fetchstorage.com

Designers


David Hacin brings crisp lines to a seaside home. (Photo Provided)

Interiors, Architectural
HACIN & ASSOCIATES

The list of local architects who do interior work is growing fast. Perusing through it can be daunting. Stop your search and just hire David Hacin. Widely recognized as one of Boston’s foremost designers, the double-Ivy grad has made his mark with both commercial (Newbury Street’s Fresh) and residential (South End lofts aplenty) projects. His flair for unpretentious modernism is unparalleled, as is his gift for transforming historical spaces into old-meets-new oases.

112 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-426-0077, hacin.com

Interiors, Contemporary
FOTENE DESIGN

Born-and-bred Bostonian Fotene Demoulas (her father co-founded the Market Basket grocery stores) knows how to inject contemporary design into traditional architecture. In business since the mid-’80s, she relies on Holly Hunt furniture and Pollack textiles to create a sleek-yet-luxurious aesthetic that appeals to brownstone dwellers and loft denizens alike.

73 Newbury St., Boston, 617-437-0029, fotenedesign.com

Interiors, Eco-Friendly
HOLISTIC DESIGN & SPACE PLANNING

Choosing the right paint colors and furniture is hard enough. If you want the paint to be nontoxic and the furniture to be formaldehyde-free (and the flooring to be low impact, and so on), Laura Catanzaro can help. The MIT-and-RISD-trained designer collaborates with a network of green experts who can address specific needs to help you create a space that looks good, feels good, and is good to the planet. That should make you breathe easier.

238 Columbia St., Cambridge, 617-553-0612, holisticdesign.net

best of boston home 2008

A living room by Duffy Design Group. (Photo Provided)

Interiors, General Excellence
DUFFY DESIGN GROUP

Yes, he’s designed some of the snazziest sites around the city, from the restaurant Dante to the Charlesmark Hotel, but Dennis Duffy’s true forte is residential interiors. His astute eye makes for elegant, unpretentious spaces; many of the city’s celebrities have enlisted Duffy’s unerring taste. For a sample of his clean-lined look, check out his new studio, D Scale, which offers the same customized furnishings he uses for VIPs.

530 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-542-2074, duffydesigngroup.com

Interiors, North
NANCY STRACKA INTERIORS

Leave it to a former fabric designer to conjure up interiors that are consistently color-conscious, luxurious, and filled with rich textures. A member of the Designer on Call program at the Boston Design Center, Stracka has spruced up residences all over Boston and its northern and western suburbs, sourcing pieces both locally and globally and tending toward a modern-classic blend.

50 Londonderry Rd., Marblehead, 781-639-0792, strackainteriors.com

Interiors, South
SUSAN ORPIN

The glamorous Susan Orpin continually remains in the spotlight for her residential work as well as her commercial projects, which include the restaurants Sorellina and Teatro, and the residences at the InterContinental hotel. Orpin’s interiors are rich and unique, always employing creative and strategic lighting concepts. Her service doesn’t come cheap, but she’s one designer who always follows through on her philosophy: While interiors should mix the traditional and the contemporary, they should always be timeless.

152 Lincoln St., North Easton, 508-230-0328, theorpingroup.com

Interiors, Traditional
HEIDI PRIBELL INTERIORS

With a background as a respected antiques dealer, Cambridge-based Heidi Pribell appreciates the historical significance of classic genres. But her unique juxtaposition of antique pieces with a modern sensibility sets her apart from common traditionalists. Each of Pribell’s projects is a signature work, mixing rich textures and eclectic Asian, European, and American influences from decades and centuries past. She will give you an exhaustive history lesson on everything she brings into your home, so grab a pencil and paper and be prepared to take copious notes.

299 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-1445, heidipribell.com

Landscape, Minimalist
STEPHEN STIMSON ASSOCIATES

Before he puts a shovel to it, or even decides on the products or plans he’ll use, minimalist land-man Stephen Stimson visits a site. From sweeping farms to modern oceanfront bungalows, he takes the time to understand a place’s context and embrace its personality. Stimson also has his eye on sustainability, using roof gardens, bug-resistant local plants, and carefully directed storm drains to ensure that your garden grows and grows.

15 Depot Ave., Falmouth, 508-548-8119, stephenstimson.com

Landscape, Modern
REED HILDERBRAND

Intensely thoughtful, Reed Hilderbrand transforms hills, dales, and lawns into enchanting destinations. Each project showcases a sensitivity to the outdoor environment and its effect on our mental well-being. The firm’s approach to hardscape mirrors this commitment to correct ecology: Materials are chosen to encourage the best drainage, blend seamlessly with your home, and protect your land.

741 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, 617-923-2422, reedhilderbrand.com

best of boston home 2008

Gregory Lombardi’s design for this Cambridge entrance include a waterfall and intricate stonework. (Photo Provided)

Landscape, Traditional
GREGORY LOMBARDI DESIGN

Lombardi’s philosophy is based on “timeless principles” and embraces everything from the classically ornate to the decidedly minimalist. What you once called a backyard will be transformed by Lombardi and his team into a luscious, rolling dreamscape fit for a Victorian novel. Lombardi finds the perfect stones, bricks, and grasses to refine the grounds of your castle so that even the pizza guy will feel like royalty approaching your distinguished front door.

2235 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-492-2808, lombardidesign.com

Media Rooms
HOME ENTERTAINMENT EXPO

This ginormous showroom sports the latest in plasma and projection screens that will make your home theater the envy of all your neighbors. Better yet, staff designers will work with you to create custom cabinets to fit all of the components into your space. And rest assured that if, after your multi-media shopping spree, you have a little trouble paying off the credit card, your neighbors will gladly pay a nominal admission to watch the Super Bowl on your fabulous new 70-inch LCD screen.

490 Boston Post Rd., Sudbury, 978-579-0003, homeentertainmentexpo.com

Pool & Spa
KATHERINE FIELD AND ASSOCIATES

Some people (toddlers, frat guys) take pleasure in inflatable backyard tubs. More-mature bathers prefer the cool, crisp water of a beautifully designed swimming pool. The latter crowd relies on Newport-based landscape architect Kate Field. Her award-winning designs are known for their upscale, understated vanishing-edge basins, slate-sided lap pools, and unobtrusive hot tubs. She’s adept at creating modern outdoor showers—perfect for kids and grownups alike. And she will even help you elegantly solve those pesky fencing rules, so you won’t feel like a prisoner in your pool area.

29 Mary St., Newport, RI, 401-848-2750, katherinefield.com

Staging Consultants
BOSTON HOME STAGING

Whether you use a Realtor or hang a for-sale shingle yourself, the house you’re trying to sell needs to look enticing. You could spend weeks sprucing the place up yourself, or get Lisa Kauffman Tharp to do it for you. A Boston College grad and former HBO producer, she’s the area’s premier home-staging consultant. She rethinks and rearranges rooms, renting updated furniture, hiring house painters, and minimizing accumulated tchotchkes. Studies show staged houses spend half the time on the market that their as-is brethren do—suggesting that sometimes you have to spend a little to make a lot.

978-897-4780, porticohomestaging.com

Sunroom
MARY MCKENNA & ASSOCIATES

The concept seems simple enough: Take a basic four-season room, add sunlight. Sunroom design, however, is not easy—it takes skill to create a bright, airy sanctuary (rather than an overheated sauna). Mary McKenna’s Zenlike rooms are bathed in natural light, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and reflective blond wood. The MIT alum’s work is spiritual—past projects include two New England church interiors.

123 Washington St., Winchester, 781-729-5318, mmaarchitects.com

Wardrobe Design
SHOWROOM

Still hanging your Givenchy gowns or Armani tux on wire hangers from a metal bar? Doug Gates, owner of the contemporary furniture store Showroom, offers gorgeous Italian closet systems to properly coddle your designer duds. Next to Poliform’s oak shelves, steel tie racks, descending hanging bars, and bureau drawers engineered to gracefully glide closed, your old rack and hangers will look positively medieval.

240 Stuart St., Boston, 617-482-4805, showroomboston.com

Exteriors


best of boston home 2008

A stucco-faced Brookline home with lead-coated copper accents by Adolfo Perez. (Photo Provided)

Hardscape Design, Luxury
ADOLFO PEREZ

Focusing on modern, streamlined shapes, Adolfo Perez’s minimalist design transforms the banal into the breathtaking. His projects showcase thoughtful relationships between metal, natural stone, and wood—especially warm woods and mahogany—to complement nearby buildings, never allowing loud colors or contrived-looking materials to ruin the clarity of peaceful exteriors.

69 Union St., Newton, 617-527-7442, adolfoperez.com

Decks
PATIO ENCLOSURES

The interior of the house looks great, the roof is new, the driveway is done. But what’s happening beyond the back door? Well-designed decks and patios complete the package and will keep you in nature year-round. Patio Enclosures, a company of professional builders, charges reasonable rates and respects your schedule, so get that croquet set and grill ready.

15 Aegean Dr., Ste. 5, Methuen, 978-682-7400

Fencing
PERFECTION FENCE

Good fences make good neighbors, and great fences make, well, great-looking properties. At Perfection Fence, choose from solid-wood privacy fences made of northern white cedar or pressure-treated yellow pine, classic pickets, practical chain-link, or poolside mesh. The family-owned company also supplies garden pergolas, tennis and basketball court enclosures, and trellises.

635 Plain St. (Rte. 139), Marshfield, 800-537-2900, perfectionfence.com

Garages and Sheds
NEW ENGLAND SHED AND BARN

In the planning stages, it was supposed to be a simple shed, but then you needed a place for tools, a boat, the contents of your basement, and somewhere for the kids to play. At New
England Shed and Barn, every building is custom-designed to suit your needs. Change the height of the walls or the slope of the roof; add an extra door or a small porch; put in window boxes. The company mills its own lumber and does its own installations, often in just a single day.

102 Ring Rd., Kingston, 800-450-9040, neshed.com

best of boston home 2008

Cube planters—which can be filled with either soil or water—at Winston Flowers & Garden’s Newton location. (Photo Provided)

Garden Supplies
WINSTON FLOWERS & GARDEN 

The place is inspiring and gorgeous, almost magical in certain lights. Oh, and you can buy fertilizer there, too. Winston’s 2-acre garden center is like one of its chic flower shops on steroids—in addition to the flowering plants and cut flowers are tools, seeds, garden furniture, and three greenhouses full of annuals and perennials. Not sure what to do with all that? There are plenty of landscape designers on staff to help you grow your own magic.

11 Florence St., Newton, 800-457-4901, winstonflowers.com

best of boston home 2008

Perfection Fence isn’t just about white picket fences (though it does those, too). (Photo Provided)

Gazebos & Pergolas
PERFECTION FENCE

Ever since Liesl was 16 going on 17, and Rolfe was 17 going on 18, the Austrian gazebo has been considered a most romantic garden structure. Today it comes in all shapes and sizes, ranging from understated porches to glass-and-steel wedding cake-like structures. There are none of the latter at Perfection Fence, a Marshfield-based company that constructs gazebos and pergolas aplenty, tastefully made to order: with screens or without; in wood, granite, or wrought iron; poolside, deck-side, or in the middle of a field. Quick feet and lingering rainy-night kisses not included.

635 Plain St. (Rte. 139), Marshfield, 800-537-2900, perfectionfence.com

Home Security Systems
ADVANCED ALARMS

Mom always said you can never be too careful, so it’s nice to know that Advanced offers the added security of a personal call every single time there’s a breach of one of its ultrareliable alarm systems. The company offers tons of mix-and-match options, so you can control your features (and cost), whether you need a single window sensor or Mission Impossible–style laser beams in your living room.

78 South St., Wrentham, 508-384-0018

 Outdoor Kitchen Design
DAVID BARTSCH LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Nantucket-based David Bartsch—he has a satellite office in Boston—has a passion for outdoor living and working with clients to create the exact setup they want. He’ll design a simple and beautiful fire pit for toasting marshmallows, or an elaborate, chef-worthy installation complete with a cutting garden and a wine refrigerator for prepping and dining al fresco, so you won’t have to step into your kitchen all summer long.

9 Amelia Dr., Nantucket, 508-228-7979, david-bartsch.com

Furniture


best of boston home 2008

A Thos. Moser living room arrangement. (Photo Provided)

Furniture, Classic
THOS. MOSER

Smart designers know classic doesn’t have to mean staid. Just ask the carpenters at New England-based Thos. Moser, whose solid, polished chairs, tables, benches, and bed frames are all made the old-fashioned way—by hand—but still manage to look both current and timeless.

19 Arlington St., Boston, 617-224-1245, thosmoser.com

Furniture, Children’s
BAMBINI DESIGN

Just because tykes prefer primary colors and cartoons doesn’t mean their rooms should be style-free. Bambini in Brookline imports adorable but refined pieces from France and Italy (many of which convert to big-people furniture as the wee ones grow), plus must-have accents and gear, from Bugaboos to swanky mobiles.

82 Boylston St., Brookline, 617-730-4114

best of boston home 2008

Hudson’s distinctive (and diverse) decor options. (Photo Provided)

Furniture, Eclectic
HUDSON

Hudson owner Jill Goldberg is also a designer and is notably skilled in picking quirkily fabulous pieces. Her assortment ranges from vintage to classic to modern, and everything looks amazing in her petite South End store. Goldberg is the best perk: While she’s laid-back and friendly, her design sense is dead-on.

312 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-292-0900, hudsonboston.com

Furniture, Eco-Friendly
FURNATURE

If you’re not partial to snuggling with pesticides and formaldehyde, check out Furnature, especially its line of ecologically correct mattresses. Made from all-natural, untreated materials, such as nonsynthetic vinyl, natural rubber, and organic wool (from sheep raised on an island off the coast of the Netherlands), Furnature’s pieces—which you can customize, naturally—look as good as they are good for you, your family, and your pets.

86 Coolidge Ave., Watertown, 800-326-4895, furnature.com

Furniture, Modern
MONTAGE

The world of modern furniture can intimidate the uninitiated, with its shiny surfaces and high price tags. The best place for amateurs—as well as aficionados—is Montage, where it’s nearly impossible to go wrong with anything from the expansive, expertly edited, largely Italian collection. Bonus: The recently renovated showroom is beautifully arranged in vignettes to ease you into the aesthetic.

75 Arlington St., Boston, 617-451-9400, montageweb.com

Furniture, Outdoor
DIDRIK’S

Because our temperate months are numbered, we New Englanders relish outdoor time. But finding great-looking contemporary outdoor furniture is harder than pulling off a barbecue in February. Except at Didrik’s. The home store boasts pieces from Barlow Tyrie and Modern Outdoor, including sleek cushioned club chairs, mod picnic tables, and breezy teak loungers.

190 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-5700, didriks.com

Kitchen & Bath


best of boston home 2008

The Waterworks showroom at the Boston Design Center. (Photo Provided)

Bath Supplies
BOSTON DESIGN CENTER

What the Louvre is to art, the Boston Design Center is to Boston residential design. If you like numbers, try these: 20 showrooms of bathroom fixtures, tiles, hardware, countertops, and vanities spread over seven floors; an astounding array of styles; and more than 1,200 different product lines. (Highlights include Waterworks, Ann Sacks, Billie Brenner, and Urban Archaeology.) The BDC also offers a Designer on Call program, which links you with a design professional who can help you refine your search and navigate the center’s immensity.

One Design Center Pl., Boston, 617-338-5062, bostondesign.com

Appliances, Large
YALE APPLIANCE AND LIGHTING

A hands-down winner for its impressive (and massive) selection, Yale carries hundreds of ranges, ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washer-dryer sets. Comparison shopping is easy, especially when the staff can quickly run through the pluses and minuses of every Electrolux, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, and GE in stock. Bargain hunting? Yale’s discount specials offer unbeatable prices on floor models and overstocked items.

269 Freeport St., Boston, 888-827-9109, yaleappliance.com

Appliances, Small
KITCHEN ARTS

Looking for a gadget to fill that last bit of empty counter space? Have a few lonely kitchen outlets in search of a plug? Kitchen Arts has just about every electronic doohickey you can imagine, like immersion blenders, knife sharpeners, and coffee frothers. With all these modern, specialized appliances, the toaster may have to go below deck.

161 Newbury St., Boston, 617-266-8701, kitchenarts.biz

Bath Remodeling
GF RHODE CONSTRUCTION

At the helm of this high-end residential construction company is the erudite Grant Rhode, a Ph.D. who loved working with his hands so much that he abandoned his academic career 25 years ago and began building some of the finest homes in the area. Invite members of his team to make over your master bath, and fall in love with their gentle manner and design sensitivity. Then start eyeing that kitchen, because, yeah, they’ll fix that, too.

1666 Hyde Park Ave., Boston, 617-364-2700, gfrhode.com

Countertops
DIVINE KITCHENS

Granite isn’t the only counter-topper in town. Take a tour with owner Mariette Barsoum and discover nontraditional choices like glass, stainless steel, concrete, and a range of new sustainable materials (including paper-based products). Along with standbys like Corian, she also sources the glittering, quartz-based Cambria and luxurious Craft Art wood countertops from Georgia.

Kitchen Remodeling
S + H CONSTRUCTION

Any competent contractor can install a line of off-the-shelf kitchen cabinets, but the millworkers at S + H are true craftsmen, seemingly from another age. They thrive on executing intricate cabinetry finished with fine hardware and smooth woods for a prize-worthy, custom-built canteen, all the while treating you with the utmost gentility.

26 New St., Cambridge, 617-876-8286, shconstruction.com

Kitchen Showroom
DESIGNER CABINETRY

If coveting a beautiful kitchen is a sin, then don’t go to this 3,600-square-foot showroom, where you will be utterly corrupted by all the tempting design possibilities. The selection of cabinets, including French provincial by Wood-Mode and slick Italian by Pedini, will induce a culinary apotheosis—in a good way, of course.

1069 Washington St., Newton, 617-244-3993, designercabinetry.com

Kitchen Store
GADGETS

Okay, so you’d like to make that luscious recipe in Cook’s Illustrated for French macaroons, but you don’t have a double boiler, poly pastry bag, offset spatula, or instant-read thermometer. We’ve got one word for you: Gadgets. Owner Robyn Michaels stocks every cooking implement you can dream of in this jam-packed Jamaica Plain emporium. If you can’t find it here, it might not exist.

671 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-6800

Supplies


farrow

Farrow & Ball’s high-end wallpaper. (Photo Provided)

Wallpaper
FARROW & BALL

Bold, traditional, modern, or fancy, Britain-based F & B’s patterns are lovingly manufactured using old-world techniques, water-based inks, and the highest-quality papers. Stocking 13 collections in up to 60 different colorways, the local showroom has the look you want in the colors that will let your rooms strut their stuff, with or without furniture.

Boston Design Center, One Design Center Pl., Ste. 337A, Boston, 617-345-5344, farrow-ball.com

Audio/Video Equipment
BANG & OLUFSON

You can find cheaper, but you won’t find better quality or sexier design than at this venerable Danish company. B & O has been honing the cutting edge of light and sound since 1925. All components are designed to integrate seamlessly so you can control your whole house with just one remote, and they look as great as they sound.

30 Newbury St., Boston, 617-262-4949, bang-olufsen.com

Fabric, Upholstery
MOD GREEN POD

Gone are the days when “eco” meant “ugly.” Thanks to design pioneers like Mod Green Pod (motto: “Taking organic from hippie to hip”), amateur decorators can invest in sustainable chic. The Boston-and-Austin-based company’s silkscreened organic cotton fabrics are soft enough for cushions and sturdy enough for couches. Founders Nancy and Lisa Mims have also launched a line of vinyl-free wallpaper along with their fabrics, which come in a host of modern floral patterns such as Butterfly Jubilee, Adelaide, and Atticus. No additives necessary.

Webster & Company, One Design Center Pl., Ste. 144-242, Boston, 617-261-9660, modgreenpod.com

Fabric, Window Treatment
DONGHIA

Tough and pretty—it’s a hard-to-come-by combination. But Donghia has it. The high-end American company, housed locally in the Boston Design Center, has been purveying durable, decorative fabrics for three decades. Its fabrics are handcrafted in hundreds of materials, textures, and colors, from plain threaded silk to heavy multicolored chenille to kid-friendly designs sprinkled with polka dots or fish. Standout window treatments include trendy open-weave curtain fabrics—see-through materials that let light filter in—and classic Belgian linen.

Boston Design Center, One Design Center Pl., Ste. 401, Boston, 617-574-9292, donghia.com

Fireplaces
YANKEE FIREPLACE & GRILL CITY

Home is where the heart is. Inside the home, Yankee would say, the hearth is where the heart is. And its 10,000-square-foot showroom backs that up, housing 70 live-burning fireplaces and stoves for personal test-toasting. Among the 20-brand selection, you’re certain to find a model to fit your décor.

140 S. Main St., Middleton, 800-445-2760, yankeefireplace.com

Flooring, Carpet
WILLISTON WEAVES

Williston Weaves’ showroom is a floor-covering mecca—carrying everything from hardwood to Oriental rugs—but it’s the namesake woven carpeting that interior designers from all over New England are obsessed with. The Newton company offers custom broadloom carpeting made from lush materials like chenille and silk, as well as eco-friendly choices such as bamboo and seagrass. It ain’t cheap, but unquestionably high quality is apparent in the look, feel, and longevity of every carpet.

1240 Chestnut St., Newton Upper Falls, 617-969-5550, willistonweaves.com

Flooring, Custom
STONE SOURCE

Shopping for flooring rarely rocks. But when you’re in need of a custom concoction beneath your feet, you’ll love Stone Source’s unrivaled passion for, well, rocks. Its stone connoisseurs travel the world in search of the finest natural materials. Almost every inch of the showroom is covered in high-quality tiles, as well as other, more exotic specimens, made from materials such as metal and recycled construction-site debris.

691 Somerville Ave., Somerville, 617-666-7900, stonesource.com

Flooring, Eco-Friendly
LONGLEAF LUMBER

When it comes to new flooring, the greenest choice isn’t new at all. Longleaf specializes in salvaging antique wood from homes, mills, and barns. With old wood, there’s no cutting down trees or energy-intensive processing of new synthetic materials. Longleaf spruces up vintage pine, oak, chestnut, and maple to create floorboards boasting plenty of character—and making minimal impact on the earth.

115 Fawcett St., Cambridge, 617-871-6611, longleaflumber.com

Flooring, Hardwood
DESIGN WOOD FLOORS

Don’t go to jazz pianist/flooring enthusiast John DiPonzio for any old hardwood floor; commission him to create the horizontal surface of your dreams. DiPonzio performs his best music in exotic woods. Using herringbone patterns and complex inlays, he’ll transform your floor into a piece of furniture almost too nice to tread upon. After DiPonzio is finished, get Rover a manicure and leave your shoes at the door.

55 Main St., Blackstone, 617-967-4071, designwoodfloors.com

Flooring, Tile
DISCOVERTILE

Tile has come a long way from its terra cotta days. At DiscoverTile, options include silver leaf, leather, and stone squares from the Artistic Tile collection; glass and mosaic pieces from Oceanside; and handcarved shapes from Sonoma. They all work for floors—or showers, walls, kitchens, bars, or living rooms—to give any space a punch of color and texture. (And just in case you want it, DiscoverTile has terra cotta, too.)

Boston Design Center, One Design Center Pl., Ste. 647, Boston, 617-330-7900, discovertile.com 

Hardware Store
CHARLES STREET SUPPLY COMPANY

The vibe of yesteryear’s hardware emporiums—shelves crammed with every imaginable practical item and an old-school staff that knows how to find it all—meets modern amenities like energy-efficient light bulbs and Benjamin Moore paints in a Beacon Hill storefront. Come for the nostalgia, stay for the impressive inventory.

54-56 Charles St., Boston, 617-367-9046, charlesstsupply.com

Lighting
WOLFERS

No matter what sort of illumination your house requires—antique reproduction sconces for a powder room, reading lamps for a bedroom, energy-efficient lighting for a patio—Wolfers has just what you need, plus a real-life-
simulating lab so you’ll know what the light will look like in your home.

103 N. Beacon St., Allston, 617-254-0700; 1339 Main St., Waltham, 781-890-5995; wolfers.com

Paint
JOHNSON PAINT COMPANY

Johnson first showed its colors more than 65 years ago, establishing itself as the local paint master. With Farrow & Ball, Pittsburgh, Benjamin Moore, Pratt & Lamberg, and California brands on the palette at three area locations, it continues to rival any national superstore in selection—and service. Beyond paint, stop in for tools, finishes, and instructions (just ask).

355 Newbury St., Boston, 617-536-4244; 32 Warren St., Waltham, 781-891-7199; 11 Henshaw St., Woburn, 781-376-9191; johnsonpaint.com

Rugs
LANDRY & ARCARI

A rug can make or break a whole room—but don’t let that intimidate you. Perhaps your décor calls for an antique Oriental, handwoven in Persia, or a bright, geometric wool number. Or maybe you want something custom? The people at Landry & Arcari can create a rug based on your wildest imaginings. There are even eco-friendly rugs to satisfy your green needs. The entire inventory is astoundingly sophisticated, so that any way you go, you won’t be wrong.

333 Stuart St., Boston, 617-399-6500; 63 Flint St., Salem, 800-649-5909; landryandarcari.com

Windows & Doors
HADCO WINDOW & DOOR

For nearly a hundred years Hadco has been outfitting Hub homes with windows and doors, building the products in its company-owned factory and using its own crews to install them. In addition to energy-saving custom windows, Hadco offers siding, storm doors, and commercial-grade insulated exterior doors, plus built-to-fit eaves and overhangs to protect your brand-new views.

21 Drydock Ave., Ste. 1, Boston, 617-443-9400, hadcowindowanddoor.com

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