Boston Home Spring 2010: Next Generation Design

Introducing the up-and-coming design pros who will shape the way we build our homes, decorate our living rooms, spend our free time, and think about the city in the decade to come.

Classic Talent
Annsley McAleer, 34, Annsley Interiors

From sprawling suburban mansions to a small Back Bay cupcake shop, Annsley McAleer’s signature style is as versatile as it is traditional. Her work has wide appeal—it’s been featured in Domino and Traditional Home—but Boston-area homes, which tend to be steeped in history, seem to mesh particularly well with her style. “In New York, I worked for designer Ralph Harvard, who specialized in historic preservation,” McAleer explains. “I like to respect the space, but update it via color, fabrics, and patterns.” And she’s not out to create museums: “The majority of my clients are young families who want to up the style quotient, but also be practical,” she notes. In addition to making a space look polished, she says, “you want to be able to make a client’s life a little better.”


Erin Gates,
Age: 30. Location: Jamaica Plain. Years blogging: Two and a half. Day job: Interior designer and fashion stylist for my own company, Element Interiors. When and where do you blog? Every morning at 6:30 from my home office. How much time do you spend online? Between blogging, sourcing for clients, and social media, I’d say five hours a day. Describe your style. Modern-traditional. I like both contemporary and classic items for home and fashion, and I think a combination of these styles looks pretty fierce. Favorite designers: Steven Gambrel, Mary McDonald, and Amanda Nisbet.

“I thought about the best evening, in which we sat around the fire pit in huge white butterfly chairs while a waiter brought us wine. I forgot how damn comfortable those chairs are and how, when used in the right setting, they aren’t as ‘college dorm’ as I remember.”

“I have had [a] room saved on my computer for months. I’ve loved it and looked at it several times. I think it’s at once calming, bold, graphic, organized but with personality. I wanted to try to re-create a similar look on a budget, so here [is my sofa pick].”

“I totally dork out on hardware. I guess this is why I do what I do—seeing a gorgeous period-style door hinge just gets me all sorts of giddy.”

Holly Becker,
Age: “Do I really have to say?” Location: Germany [she’s a Boston expat]. Years blogging: Four. Day job: I blog full time. I’m also a columnist at How did you get started? I registered the blog name Decor8 back in May 2005, when I was just starting as a design consultant after 10 years of corporate jobs. Why do you blog? I wanted to share my ideas at no cost on my site, show my finds, and, most importantly, spotlight the independent arts and crafts world that was in the making. I was passionate about decorating and writing, and I truly wanted to share from the heart without any motive for income or success and fame.

“Cynthia Vardhan is a successful potter in Ohio with a degree in fine arts and a beautiful body of work that will have you swooning. Such talent!”

“Winner of the iF Product Design Award 2010 just a few weeks ago, it is an attractive piece indoors or outside in the garden, perfect for all seasons. I’m counting eight colors on their website, though there could be more. I’m a big fan of the white, beige, and gray stools and can see them fitting in perfectly in a living or dining room area, but also in a child’s room or on the patio.”

“Erin Flett is a graphic and textile designer in Maine who just launched a line of hand-silkscreened pillows that she hopes will speak ‘to the stylist’s soul.’ I don’t know about you, but that squirrel is totally speaking to me. He is saying something like, ‘Buy me, dude.’ He’d be perfect for my friend’s new baby boy!”