Best of Boston Home 2009

The premier designers, contractors, shops, and more, in Boston and beyond.



An indoor oasis by Sanford Custom Builders. (Photo by Sam Gray)


It’s not often you find a dedication to a builder’s parents on his website: “Dad, everything I know about building comes from you…Mom, you [taught] me to set very high standards.” Sanford president Marc Kaplan credits his developer father and interior designer mother for his 30 years of success in the business of constructing high-end custom homes—and understanding homeowners’ emotional investments.

310 Washington St., Ste. 202, Wellesley Hills, 781-416-7007,


What do you look for in an electrician? Most likely it’s that he or she gets the job done at a reasonable price. Hillcrest fits that bill but also gets an A-plus on a half-dozen other important criteria—from the ability to perform triage over the phone, to showing up at your home in record time, to being patient when you don’t know the right words to explain what’s wrong.

214 Garden St. #8, Needham, 781-444-5200

Hardware Store

Can you judge a hardware store by the number of trucks parked out front? Hell, yeah. From dawn to dusk, both locations are bustling with local contractors purchasing everything from valves to fixtures to fittings, plus regular folk in search of grills, snowblowers, and screws. A family-owned business since 1874, Robinsons exudes kindness and a helpful attitude—and its huge inventory keeps customers coming back for generations.

One Nicholas Rd., Framingham, 508-877-1888; 31 Washington St. (Rte. 85), Hudson, 978-562-7316;


For three all-too-brief months a year, our backyards become an extension of our living rooms: Screen doors are propped open, charcoal grills are fired up, neighborhood children play hide-and-seek in the shrubbery. So it makes sense that your yard be as thoughtfully designed as your home’s interior. Enter the MacDowell Company, whose 38 years of landscaping experience can turn a treeless pasture into a flowering garden, multilevel terrace, or lake-shaped pool with a bluestone deck.

21 Center St., Weston, 781-899-9393,

Painter, Exterior

TLC Painting’s goal is one all companies should adopt: to achieve success by doing what is in the customer’s best interest. Seems obvious, but owner John Mulvaney has figured out the key to accomplishing this: The painters who show up on your doorstep promptly every morning are well-groomed, uniformed, full-time employees with an average of five years’ experience. Their work is superior, and past clients have said they’re polite, unobtrusive, and “truly nice guys.”

7 Erie Dr., Natick, 800-905-1993,

Painter, Interior

Luckily, most housepainters don’t take years to complete a job (or dispense philosophy) like Murphy Brown’s Eldin. But for the intense period of time they’re in your home, you still want someone you can trust implicitly. Stephen Oldach and his crew are not only top-notch painters who pride themselves on creating as little disruption as possible—including using HEPA-filtered vacuums to eliminate dust—but they’re also expert craftspeople who’ll repair plaster and woodwork before they pick up a paintbrush.

365 Boston Post Rd., Ste. 353, Sudbury, 781-235-8887,


With so many homeowners installing thousand-dollar toilets and steam showers these days, busy plumbers don’t have time to return calls—let alone answer their phones. Eric Powers is a rarity: a plumber who takes calls after dark. Hence the name of his two-year-old company, which has succeeded solely by word of mouth. He and co-owner Roy Oller offer professional know-how with a personal touch.

44 Everit Ave., Framingham, 508-889-6003,

Small Repairs

Yes, the logo (a ’50s housewife worshipping a handyman) raises our feminist eyebrows, but the truth is, sometimes you need a guy with some brawn to clean your gutters or take out your air conditioner. Ed Mansfield will do anything a burly spouse might (except that).

44 Violette Cir., Northbridge, 508-234-2162,

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.