Best of Boston Home 2008

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


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

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,

Architect, Eco-Friendly

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,

best of boston home 2008

A dramatic living room by Boston’s Office dA.

Architect, General Excellence

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,

Architect, Historic Renovations

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,

Architect, Nontraditional

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,

Architect, North

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,

best of boston home 2008

A Cape Cod modern by Falmouth architect Mark Hutker.

 Architect, South

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,

Architect, Traditional

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,

Architect, West

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

The Boston Home team has curated a list of the best home design and home remodeling professionals in Boston, including home builders and contractors, interior designers, home accent décor, and more. Get the help you need with FindIt/Boston's guide to home renovation pros.

The Boston Home team has curated a list of the best home design and home remodeling professionals in Boston, including architects, builders, kitchen and bath experts, lighting designers, and more. Get the help you need with FindIt/Boston's guide to home renovation pros.