Best of Boston Home 2010

Let’s face it: Construction and renovation are not for the faint of heart. Unless, that is, you’ve got expert guidance on your side. That’s where the Best of Boston Home comes in.

By | Boston Home |

best 019

Photograph by Nat Rea

Let’s face it: Construction and renovation are not for the faint of heart. Writing huge checks, living without a kitchen for a month, making decisions about things you’d never considered before (outlet covers, who knew?)—add it all up, and the job can get overwhelming. Unless, that is, you’ve got expert guidance on your side. That’s where the Best of Boston Home comes in. What it is: Our annual guide to the Hub’s premier resources for building and design, exhaustively researched by our staff and verified by more than 100 trade professionals. How it’s organized: We’ve grouped winners by style (Classic, Modern, Restoration) and by specialized construction (Green, Kitchen & Bath, Outdoor), making it a snap to find exactly the designers, contractors, and vendors you need.

Classic | ModernRestoration | Green

Kitchen & Bath | Outdoor | The Home Team


A bit contemporary, a bit traditional, completely timeless. That’s the classic style, and one ideally suited to New England’s historical bent. Yet the best classic designers don’t simply shop showrooms; they’re students of the decorative arts who use their knowledge of details and fabrics to nimbly combine various eras. The result: Décor that’s richly textured, worldly, and absolutely up to date.


An old Hudson River Valley farm provided the backbone for this design by Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects. (Photograph by Robert Benson Photography)


AR & T has established itself on the national scene as a residential architecture firm of the highest caliber, collecting glowing praise from such heavyweights as Yale dean of architecture Robert A. M. Stern (who recently noted that “while [the principals] love the past, they infuse its traditions with a new sensibility”). But the firm’s work is more than capable of speaking for itself: AR & T’s sumptuously detailed, meticulously scaled homes are built for the ages, with all the grace notes of a time when architecture was as much about craftsmanship as it was design.

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


S + H’s reputation as the finest classic builder in Greater Boston is exemplified by its impeccable renovations lining Cambridge’s stately Brattle Street. Still, quality alone does not a great contractor make: It requires rigorous estimates, a roster of A-list subcontractors, and, in this case, a decades-long immersion in the building arts. S + H has all these, plus a staff of uniquely thoughtful individuals who are so responsive they can put even the most fretful homeowner at ease.

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

best 019

Designer Jeffrey Delvy’s trademark mix of eras brings this Beacon Hill living room to life. (Photograph by Nat Rea)


It’s not easy to find an interior designer who can achieve just the right balance of gorgeous, textured, retro, ancient, and brand-new. How fortunate for Boston, then, that Jeffrey Delvy opened his own firm in 2007. Trained as an architect, Delvy decided to focus his design skills on the decorative arts rather than on construction. His style melds modern opulence with a solid classical backbone. Indeed, few designers can mix a 1970s velour sofa with ancient Chinese silk panels and a zebra-print art deco chair as deftly.

341 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-504-6627,


Boston’s highest-end designers call the Martin Group their one-stop shop for upholstery, drapery, and accent fabrics; it boasts room after room of beautiful prints, wovens, silks, and sheers from venerable yet fashion-forward lines like Manuel Canovas, Harlequin, and Sanderson. Plan to spend a full day browsing, and bring a big bag for samples—the outrageous selection is sure to overwhelm any first-time shopper.

One Design Center Place, Ste. 111, Boston, 617-951-2526,


With almost 20 years’ experience installing and refinishing top-quality wood floors, C & R is the favorite among the professionals on our panel. Its small showroom carries samples of the finest brands—Bruce, HomerWood, Swedish Kährs—and the staff offers no-pressure advice for novices.

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


One visit to Webster & Company, and you’ll pull together your timeless look in no time flat. The two-story showroom brims with the finest classically wrought furniture, from Charles Pollock Venetian chests and solid-walnut canopy beds to gilded mirrors and custom-glazed pottery centerpieces—beautifully made items you won’t find anywhere else in New England. Although it’s open to the trade only, Webster & Company’s incomparable stock is well worth hiring a designer to come along and help sort through it all.

One Design Center Place, Ste. 242, Boston, 617-261-9660,


Designers and connoisseurs alike flock to Landry & Arcari to plunder its unrivaled treasure trove of rugs: walls filled with brilliant handknotted Persian Orientals, floors piled high with vibrant Turkish Oushaks, and manicured rows of wool and silk swatches that beckon customers to design their own custom pieces. Ruling over this polished emporium is owner Jerry Arcari, whose passion for the art and history of handmade carpets has been cultivated through 40-plus years in the industry.

333 Stuart St., Boston, 617-399-6500; 63 Flint St., Salem, 978-744-5909;


For those who intend their walls to be more than mere backdrops, a visit to the Schumacher showroom is practically required. This family-owned New York company has been providing beautifully crafted wall coverings since 1889, delighting even the most demanding clients with its historical reproductions and classically modern prints. In keeping with today’s eco-friendly sensibilities, it also features a variety of sustainable wall coverings—handwoven grasscloth, paper-backed natural linen—that utilize wheat-based glue and environmentally safe dyes. (Note: The showroom is for trade professionals only, so you’ll need to hire one to make a purchase.)

One Design Center Place, Ste. 529, Boston, 617-482-9165,


Wolfers is like a classic-lighting supermarket: Given the thousands of well-chosen fixtures on display here, you’re virtually guaranteed to find that perfect chandelier or bedside sconce. And while the vast selection is heavy on traditionally styled fixtures, the showroom is as modern as it gets. Even seasoned interior designers rave about Wolfers’s innovative system of color-coded switches, which allows you to illuminate any product you’re considering. Shoppers can peruse an impressive library of lighting catalogs and get tutorials on topics such as bulb quality and green lighting by Wolfers’s lighting experts, who also offer professional design services.

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


Thanks in no small part to the design talent at MIT, Harvard, and RISD, a true modern streak runs through this most historical city. If you’re among those drawn to the clean aesthetics of contemporary design, remember that good materials and top-notch construction are key—this is one genre that demands perfection.


Modern Dream Team: From the first sketch to the final throw pillow, meet the Hub’s composers of contemporary masterpieces. From Left: Andrew Goldstein, Thoughtforms, Contractor / David Hacin, Hacin + Associates, Architect / Meichi Peng, Meichi Peng Design Studios, Designer. (Photograph by Jorg Meyer)


Even in a city overflowing with renowned architects, David Hacin stands out. His award-winning projects, including FP3 in Fort Point Channel and Laconia Lofts in the South End, demonstrate how thoughtful contemporary design can fit seamlessly into Boston’s traditional landscape. While Hacin has created few single-family homes, his penthouse and loft interiors prove he is adept at producing finely tuned modern masterpieces large and small.

112 Shawmut Ave., Studio 5A, Boston, 617-426-0077,


Thoughtforms has earned praise from a litany of high-end architects—no small feat, given that contractors and architects rarely see eye to eye on a project. As one architect with a well-known firm puts it, “Thoughtforms is very organized, always on top of everything, and always thinking ahead.” He also notes that the firm “ensures that the client has a clear understanding of all facets of the job.”

543 Massachusetts Ave., West Acton, 978-263-6019,


This Newbury Street penthouse owes its sleek yet inviting interior to designer Meichi Peng. (Photograph by Kent Dayton)


Peng has positively skyrocketed to the top of her field in just a few years. Her interiors are contemporary and singular: perfectly proportioned, always confident, a touch exotic. For a taste of her artful approach, step into her Harrison Avenue boutique Peng, where she elegantly displays objets d’art from around the globe alongside her line of handmade bags. All of which leaves us wondering, What can’t this woman do?

460 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-521-8660,


Who can resist the spirited prints of this Finnish company? Certainly not designers, who have been enchanted by Marimekko’s bold colors and vibrant patterns for decades. Vintage pieces fetch remarkably steep prices on eBay, but if you think the firm’s heyday ended with the Nixon administration, just stop by the Marimekko concept store in Cambridge. Here, the company’s iconic 1960s poppy prints mingle with inspiring new patterns from Europe’s next generation of textile designers.

350 Huron Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-2800,


After 15 minutes in most flooring shops, our eyes are as glazed over as faux-wood laminate. Not so in this showroom, which many local decorators liken to a fancy department store. Your inner designer will revel in the unparalleled selection of glass, metal, stone, and reclaimed wood, all carefully chosen and displayed. What’s more, the staff can provide detailed installation information to help you decide on the appropriate material for any space.

327 A St., Boston, 617-963-7968,


Profoundly knowledgeable about lighting and always willing to go the extra mile for clients, Lucia owner Lucy Dearborn could earn this award based on customer service alone. But there’s more: namely, an 8,000-square-foot store, comprising 12 showrooms in a stately mansion. And what you see at Lucia is only a fraction of what’s available, since Dearborn and her designers will track down any fixture you want and install it in your home.

311 Western Ave., Lynn, 781-595-0026,


Overflowing with the latest in Tibetan cut-pile color blocks and intricate tribal flat-wovens, this company wows with its commitment to the Middle Eastern and Tibetan peoples who create its wares. Jaded by other stores’ claims of “socially conscious” sourcing? Ask any employee about the history of a rug, and he or she will supply you with a roster of details—no surprise, since the owner spends about two months a year in the communities where the rugs are made.

283 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-576-3249,


The creative minds behind Donghia’s wallpaper selection bypass traditional patterns to offer the most untamed of designs. Choose from boldly textured, richly hued lines by the likes of Maya Romanoff, Weitzner, and Elitis, or enlist the knowledgeable staff to help you (and your designer, as only trade professionals can make purchases here) decide among such temptations as opulent metallics, woodlike veneers, and wallpaper accented with custom-beaded pop-art portraits. Who knew wallpaper could be this sexy?

One Design Center Place, Ste. 401, Boston, 617-574-9292,


As two of the area’s most discriminating buyers, Caroline and Gregory Morson have brought to Boston the kinds of Italianbrands that rarely find their way to the U.S., such as Minotti, Fornasetti, and Porada. If you’re addicted to ultra-sophisticated European lines, look no further than this temple of chic.

76 Lincoln St., Boston, 617-482-2335,


From Colonial homesteads to midcentury-modern deck houses, the Hub is filled with three centuries’ worth of projects for restoration-minded types. Returning a home to its former glory calls for patience and flexibility, but you’ll also need an array of professionals who revere the craftsmanship of bygone eras. Luckily, our area is filled with those, too.


Restoration Dream Team: Looking to restore your old home toits glory days? These folks can offer help of historic proportions. From Left: Charlie Allen, Charlie Allen Restorations, Contractor / Charles Myer, Charles R. Myer & Partners, Architect / Heidi Pribell, Heidi Pribell Interiors, Designer. (Photograph by Jorg Meyer)


One of the oldest and most jam-packed antiques stores on Charles Street, Marika’s may not appeal to the casual Beacon Hill tourist. Consider that a bonus: Once your eyes adjust to the light (and the sheer quantity of pieces), you’ll find yourself in an antiquer’s paradise of historic porcelain, 19th-century paintings, estate jewelry, and every silver service your grandmother ever coveted. Shopping here is an intrepid buyer’s treasure hunt.

130 Charles St., Boston, 617-523-4520


In addition to a profound appreciation for the history behind centuries-old homes, Myer brings improvisational flair (and an exceedingly gentle touch) to his projects. As one of the region’s most skilled restoration architects, he enhances designs of bygone eras to create lovely, livable spaces for today.

875 Main St., Cambridge, 617-876-9062,


When your contractor is frequently compared to Honest Abe, you know you’re working with someone special. A Harvard grad with a Lincolnesque beard, Charlie Allen has pursued the art of historic restoration and renovation since 1978. Over the decades, he’s amassed a veritable trophy case of preservation awards while recruiting an equally talented staff (he even pays for their continuing education). Together, he and his team bring period homes back to their original luster, room by room. Allen’s company is admirably forward-looking, too: Project development manager Mark Philben is a certified green remodeler.

91 River St., Cambridge, 617-661-7411,


Designer Heidi Pribell’s Cambridge home reflects her love of 19th-century decorative arts movements. (Photograph by Eric Roth)


Pribell may not think of herself as a restoration designer: Her work feels fresh, never stodgy. And in a field of antiques aficionados and history devotees, she breathes life into older properties with her flawless use of color, custom furniture, and European fabrics. Pribell understands the spirit behind the periods in which she works, yet has a flexible sensibility that brings an exciting twist to everything she touches.

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


With 6,000 square feet dedicated to vintage hardware—plus fireplace mantels, lighting fixtures, and stained glass—Restoration Resources has anything your Beacon Hill brownstone or Brattle Street Victorian might need. It may take time to sift through box after box to find six matching crystal knobs, but you’ll get plenty of assistance from owner Bill Raymer and his well-informed staff.

1946 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-3033,


Owner Chris Osborne has been scouring auctions and flea markets for over three decades to build his collection of light fixtures, which is especially heavy on French Empire, art deco, and Victorian designs. The result is equal parts store and museum, where browsing may lead to an impromptu history lesson about, say, a 19th-century crystal and brass chandelier.

2226 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-547-1490,


Though this auction house’s antiques selection is one of the most celebrated in the country, its Oriental rug auctions fly under the radar. But the offerings are just as impressive: Several times a year, Skinner sells off rare 19th-century tribal and village weavings at prices ranging from a few hundred bucks to more than $18,000. Collections are curated by the city’s most knowledgeable rug appraiser, who exhaustively researches the carpets’ value and provenance.

63 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-350-5400; 274 Cedar Hill St., Marlborough, 508-970-3000;


Anyone who cringes at boring beige interiors should take inspiration from the Victorian era, when every wall was festooned with the kinds of lively colors and patterns you’ll find at J. R. Burrows. Founded by art historian John Burrows, this Rockport company has resurrected a sumptuous array of designs—from Candace Wheeler’s “Japanese Carp” to “The Stag” by C.F.A. Voysey—identical to wallpapers that would have hung in Victorian parlors. (In fact, many patterns here were originally discovered during the renovations of local homes.)

Rockland, 781-982-1812,


Magnificent art nouveau armoires, European card tables, and Japanese folding screens are but a few of the remarkable pieces you’ll find at this 10,000-square-foot antiques store in Somerville. Pooling retail and restoration expertise, JerryFreeman and Daniel McAuliffe createdthe Barn in 1999, and their partnership allowsthem to offer a particularly enticing package: Purchasea piece from Freeman at the store, then have McAuliffe customize it in his five-person restoration shop.

17 Murdock St., Somerville, 617-625-5204,


While it sometimes seems that every business on the planet has added “eco-friendly” to its credentials, smart homeowners should look beyond the label to make sure there’s expertise—and a track record—to back it up. Greater Boston’s most environmentally conscious firms didn’t add “green” as an afterthought: They began with a philosophy, and have remained true to it.


Maryann Thompson Architects designed this geothermal residence in Boston to take full advantage of the sun’s rays. (Photograph by Chuck Choi)


A longtime pioneer in sustainable architecture, Maryann Thompson has been turning passive lately—which impresses us even more. She’s getting certified in Passive Housing, a German movement that strives to slash homes’ energy usage by 90 percent. Given that its common-sense principles mesh well with Thompson’s dedication to simple green solutions, we expect to see beautifully designed, incredibly energy-efficient homes popping up all over the Hub in the coming years.

14 Hillside Ave., Cambridge, 617-491-4144,


It won’t cost you a penny to have Nexamp cofounder Dan Leary or one of his team come out to your home to assess the cost of installing a wind turbine generator, solar panels, or a geothermal pump. But don’t expect a standard sales pitch. Leary believes knowledge is power, and so he uses the company’s proprietary Web-based “Road Map” program to educate potential clients about the value of renewable technologies. And should you make the decision to go green, Nexamp will design and install your system of choice, then continue monitoring your energy consumption in real time though its high-tech IT platform.

21 High St., Ste. 209, North Andover, 978-688-2700,


In this greenwashed age, lots of contractors say they’re environmentally conscious. But it takes a tremendous amount of time and education to transform a standard builder into a true green leader. Brian Butler has done just that, fully committing his company to the eco-friendly cause and ensuring that all his employees are fluent in the latest innovations. The result: In only a few years, BGB has upgraded dozens of homes with Energy Star PVC-free windows, bamboo kitchen cabinets, recycled flooring, and photovoltaic panels. Even better, BGB offers a range of alternatives to conventional construction tactics, and practices “open billing,” which means clients get to see the base labor and material costs along with the final markup.

218 Lincoln St., Allston, 617-202-3777,


Until recently, getting a geothermal heating and cooling system meant tracking down an engineer, a site planner, and a well driller—and then trying to get all of them to speak the same language. Frustrated by the lack of turnkey solutions for installing a geothermal system in his own home, Philip Wheeler joined forces with two engineering colleagues to form ECG. The two-year-old Clinton company handles the entire process, from consulting and drawing up systems to installing and maintaining equipment. As a bonus, ECG helps customers and their accountants navigate the piles of paperwork needed to get federal and state tax credits for energy-saving home improvements.

464 High St., Clinton, 978-368-4091,

Resource Center

For the latest information on sustainable building, look no further than the 10,000-square-foot Nexus Green Building Resource Center. Set up by the Green Roundtable, a Boston nonprofit that aims to make eco-friendly design and construction mainstream, this clearinghouse can help anyone—homeowners, architects, builders, designers—reduce their carbon footprint. Tap into the online database to find local green professionals, or visit the library, where you can see samples of PVC-free carpet tiles and no-VOC paints, among other items, as well as find reference materials on things like solar panels.

38 Chauncy St., Boston, 617-374-3740,

Salvaged Materials

Your gleaming Sub-Zero has arrived; your glossy granite countertops are ready to be installed. Before you can enjoy them, though, you have to get rid of that old Frigidaire and beat-up Corian. Sure, it’s tempting to call a junk truck, but the greener move is to donate still-usable appliances and materials to the BMRC, founded in 1993 to help divert millions of dollars of building materials from landfills. The center accepts a surprising variety of goods, from light fixtures to cabinet hardware, and sells them at minimal cost to low- and middle-income homeowners—meaning you can not only take pride in your own renovation, but also feel good about aiding someone else’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” project (while getting a tax write-off in the process).

100 Terrace St., Boston, 617-442-8917,


Green Dream Team: Looking to tread lightly on the earth with your home overhaul? Call on pros that walk the talk. From Left: Maryann Thompson, Maryann Thompson Architects, Architect / Brian Butler, Boston Green Building, Contractor / Steven J. Strong, Solar Design Associates, Solar. (Photograph by Jorg Meyer)


In the 35 years since its founding, Steven J. Strong’s firm has designed the world’s first solar-powered neighborhood, Olympic center, and major-league baseball stadium. (Strong was even brought in by the White House to replace the solar panels that had been removed during the Reagan era.) If SDA’s résumé doesn’t convince you, the images of its finished projects will. Custom-designed private residences seamlessly incorporate photovoltaics, geothermal heating, and wind power, while the firm’s commercial projects continue to break new ground.

Harvard, 978-456-6855,


Thanks to visionary vice president Jack Mackin, Sterritt Lumber has long been a leader in the green building industry. Founded in 1841, this Watertown operation was the first retail lumberyard in New England to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Since coming aboard, Mackin has made a point of educating homeowners, builders, and architects about the most planet-friendly building options, as well as supplying them. At Sterritt, eco-conscious flooring means more than bamboo; you’ll also find responsibly sourced woods like American cherry and Spanish cedar. Plus, Sterritt carries plenty of formaldehyde-and-urea-free and low-VOC products, making it a one-stop resource for green building.

110 Arlington St., Watertown, 617-923-1480,

Kitchen & Bath

As room makeovers go, revamping a kitchen or master bath comes with some of the steepest price tags around. What lessens the sting is knowing that this kind of overhaul can both improve and integrate the surrounding living spaces. And when it’s time to sell, the “move-in ready” appeal of your updated amenities will make potential homebuyers drool.


Shaker-front cabinets provide functional elegance in this layout by Dalia Kitchen Design. (Photograph by Michael J. Lee Photography)

Cabinetry, Classic

Don’t be fooled by the Design Center address—Dalia is open to the public. Offering their own custom lines and several top-drawer brands (Christopher Peacock and Chalon, to name two), the folks at this 10,000-square-foot showcase welcome neophytes and veterans alike to the joys of kitchen design. One insider notes of owner Dalia Tamari, “Clients feel very confident with her.” No blueprint yet? No problem. The Dalia pros will gladly work with you to bring your dream kitchen to life. Fancy one of their cabinets but wish it came in another finish? They’ll come to your home and handpaint it the desired color.

One Design Center Place, Ste. 635, Boston, 617-482-2566,


Whether you’re looking for a single soap dispenser or an entire kitchen package, this megastore is one-stop shopping, says one local kitchen design professional. And given that the lineup runs from Viking refrigerators to GE washer/dryer sets and backyard grills, you’ll probably end up browsing longer than you’d planned. Fortunately, staffers are thoughtful enough to offer crayons and paper to any kids in tow.

296 Freeport St., Boston, 617-825-9253,

Bath Accessories

Local experts agree that excellent customer service is what makes this Watertown showroom stand out. “It’s like a personal relationship—you just really connect with the people there,” says one insider. Adds another pro, “They can source anything and get things quickly. And if there’s a problem, they can solve it.” After taking in the array of Decolav sinks, Valsan towel bars, and Toto toilets, spend some time with a staffer. You’re likely to find that he or she has memorized every product and catalog number. At Monique’s, they also know which fixtures meet Massachusetts code—not always the case at other suppliers—and offer objective advice on all their products.

123 N. Beacon St., Watertown, 617-923-1167,

Cabinetry, Modern

Moda Cucina’s expert crafters turn out European-style cabinetry right here in Massachusetts. Using premium millwork equipment, they customize cabinets, doors, and countertops. Select from a range of beautifully displayed woods and styles in the company’s Boston Design Center showroom, or work with an in-house designer to create something completely unique.

One Design Center Place, Ste. 628, Boston, 617-361-2400,


“Gerrity has good relationships with their clients. That’s why they’re the best,” declares one professional. Unlike other suppliers, which merely show you a sample of the stone you can purchase, Gerrity has a huge warehouse filled with actual slabs (a critical factor, since no two pieces of granite or marble are alike). After choosing the stone you want—and working with Gerrity to lay out the pieces—you’re all but guaranteed precisely the look you’re after. For a truly one-of-a-kind countertop, Gerrity carries a collection of rare stones from around the world.

225B Merrimac St., Woburn, 781-938-1820,

New England Home/Intercontinental Res., Leslie Fine, designer

A kitchen illuminated by Light Insight Design Studio. (Photograph by Richard Mandelkorn)


Lighting can make or break a kitchen: Too much, and the space will feel harsh and clinical; too little, and you won’t be able to see what you’re doing. Knowing which fixtures to use—and how—requires years of experience and a keen eye, both of which Light Insight Design Studio owner Lana Nathe has in spades. (And once you see what she can do for the heart of your home, you’ll be happy to unleash her on the rest of it, too.)

318 W. Second St., Ste. 2, Boston, 617-268-1122,


Samples from DiscoverTile’s vast inventory. (Photograph by Michael Piazza)


While DiscoverTile’s selection may seem less exotic than what you’d see in other Boston Design Center showrooms, don’t be fooled: Its enormous inventory encompasses tile styles aplenty. (“It’s more like a department store than a boutique,” says one architect.) It also offers concrete vanities and custom mosaic designs, as well as a staff that is “tried and true,” in the words of a local designer. DiscoverTile’s pros pride themselves on finding imaginative ways to combine items in their plentiful stock to create custom backsplashes, master baths, and foyers.

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


When the city’s top designers need the latest in luxury fixtures (think cutting-edge German Dornbracht faucets and deep Duravit soaking tubs), they head to this Newton-based mecca of all things kitchen and bath. “It’s very comprehensive—not just on paper, but in reality,” says one interior designer. “It’s where I can see all the options in one place.”

244 Needham St., Ste. 4, Newton, 617-332-6662,


Big or small, a yard deserves more than a low-concept, high-maintenance carpet of bluegrass—especially since there’s a mind-boggling variety of flowering plants, wild grasses, and trees to choose from. The best landscapers and designers can turn these elements into an attractive, resilient space that suits your style and, most important, your tolerance for yard work.


This Reed Hilderbrand landscape design uses terraces to connect a Lexington residence with its rural setting. (Photograph by Kent Dayton)

Landscape Architect

With notable skill and a deep sense of place, the designers at Reed Hilderbrand craft refined, understated landscapes. Their work incorporates sustainable principles, indigenous plantings, and beautifully detailed stonework, and is heavy on four-season appeal. Reed Hilderbrand’s best-known local project is the Leventritt Garden at the Arnold Arboretum, a three-acre terraced landscape that showcases nearly 150 plant species.

741 Mount Auburn St., Watertown, 617-923-2422,


As founder and principal of SiteCreative, Stephanie Hubbard regularly conquers projects involving steep terrain, challenging wetlands, and problematic urban sites. What else would you expect from a This Old House regular and the architect behind the DeCordova Museum’s superb sculpture park? Hubbard also has an affinity for creating rooftop decks and courtyards, using unexpected materials like frosted glass and black river rock. Green bonus: Several of her projects have achieved LEED certification.

535 Albany St., Ste. 402B, Boston, 617-390-5663,


Unlike many local fencing companies, New England Woodworkers actually grows its own wood (on a tree farm in Maine), which helps ensure the impressive quality and longevity of its handcrafted fences and gates. Want something unique? The Woodworkers team is more than happy to design a pattern exclusively for your home, complete with coordinating pergolas, gates, trellises, and decks.

Sagamore Beach, 508-833-5175,

Garden Center

Whether it’s a Boston fern, a fiberclay planter, or a flowering tree, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Mahoney’s Garden Center. With eight locations across the state (including a new outlet in Chelmsford), this garden emporium has been helping green up Massachusetts yards and homes since 1959, and has a reputation for educating customers on plant care. You can walk away with something green for as little as five bucks, or you can ask the on-site pros to landscape your entire backyard.

449 Western Ave., Brighton, 617-787-8885,


Dedicated to re-creating the ancient stonework of his native Ireland, Nick O’Hara gets personally involved in every job that comes his company’s way. The firm has spent the past 20 years building outdoor fireplaces, chimneys, walls, archways, and paths that look as if they’ve existed for centuries. (The company motto? “Every stone must have character.”) O’Hara’s passion doesn’t stop with bricks, though: He’s also been known to build custom wine cellars like those found in European chalets.

11 Cordaville Rd., Ashland, 508-881-6851,


A 2,400-square-foot natatorium created by pool pro Combined Energy Systems. (Photograph by Alan Ward)


Armed with 30 years’ experience and state-of-the-art technology, CES swims laps around its competition. Given that the firm has pulled off some of the Hub’s most challenging projects—e.g., a basement Olympic lap pool—surely it can handle yours.

37 Ayer Rd., Ste. 9, Littleton, 978-486-0070,


A local store with a national presence, Didriks is the go-to for furniture that transforms backyards and gardens into fully realized entertainment spaces. Among the draws: the award-winning British line Barlow Tyrie, which includes teak tables, sofas, and chaises.

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

The Home Team

Sometimes you just need someone to fix that dripping faucet. Here are the top-rated companies in your neighborhood* to call for emergencies, quick fixes, or a fresh coat of paint.

* Businesses are grouped by the primary area they serve.


Cambridge Electrical Contractors
120 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-201-7757

Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating
Boston, 617-288-2911,

Color Theory
601 Albany St., Boston, 617-304-1370,

George S. Patey and Sons
48 Station St., Brookline, 617-734-9400

Gilbert & Becker
24 Clapp St., Dorchester, 617-265-4342,

Small Repairs
Henry Scopa Home Improvement Specialists
11 Raven St., Dorchester, 617-921-2127


Driscoll Electric Company
83 Newbern Ave., Medford, 781-393-9299,

Breen and Sullivan Mechanical Services
7 Healy Ct., Danvers, 978-777-1114,

Coelho Contracting
872 Fellsway, Medford, 781-391-0989,

Doughty & Sons
8 Campbell St., Woburn, 781-932-3291,

North Shore Roofing
281 Andover St., Danvers, 978-977-3816

Small Repairs
We Show Up
39 Bellevue Rd., Swampscott, 781-598-0042,


Meserve Electric
64 Grove St.,East Bridgewater, 508-378-3132,

Cobra Heating & Air Conditioning
675 Warren Ave., Brockton, 781-875-1494

Michael Noel Painting
67 Downer Ave., Dorchester, 617-293-4951,

Vaughn Plumbing and Heating
16 Roosevelt Rd., Dedham, 617-293-4186,

Neponset Valley Construction
61 Endicott St., Ste. 26-1, Norwood, 781-762-1102,

Small Repairs
Tim’s Handyman Service
Braintree, 617-816-7200,


Weston Electric
19 Erie Dr., Natick, 781-899-0098,

Advanced Energy
14 Washington St., Westwood, 781-461-8222,

Nazzaro Painting Contractors
9 Bonazzoli Ave., Ste. 9, Hudson, 978-562-6200,

Jim Lavallee Plumbing and Heating
4 Washington St., Auburn, 508-755-5558,

Constructions Collaborative
99 Hammond St., Waltham, 781-891-6757,

Small Repairs
Handymen From Heaven
946 Great Plain Ave., Ste. 192, Needham, 781-444-4448,

Source URL: