Best of Boston Home 2009

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



This sleek Napoleon hearth, available at Anderson Fireplace, is very hot indeed. (Photo Provided)


Nothing beats the mesmerizing spectacle of a fire crackling away on a gray winter day—unless your fireplace clashes horribly with your décor. We suggest heading to Anderson, which has been in the hearth business for more than 50 years and offers a spectrum of styles from Victorian to contemporary. The staff here will help you customize a design right down to the hue of travertine for your surround.

720 Brockton Ave. (Rte. 123), Abington, 800-472-1717,

Audio-Visual Equipment

As its moniker implies, this shop doesn’t mess around with run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter systems. Whether you want a home theater that rivals Imax or a 5.1-channel surround-sound setup, the staff—a charming gaggle of AV geeks who apparently memorize each issue of Stereophile—will help you find the best-quality system. Aesthetics are also a consideration here: Avalon speakers come in a range of veneers, and if you desire installation services, the staff will happily work with your architect. Vinyl fetishists out there should ask for Jim, Goodwin’s in-house turntable expert.

899 Main St., Waltham, 781-893-9000,


We admit to having a soft spot for family businesses, yet our checkbooks can support our predilections for only so long. That’s just one of the great things about carpet emporium A. J. Rose: It offers the personal service of a second-generation family company, with the low prices of your local home-improvement chain. On hand are hundreds of options—from affordable Coronet to luxe Ralph Lauren—and in the unlikely event you can’t find what you want, Rose will order it.

136 Cambridge St. (Rte. 3A), Burlington, 781-272-7600; 599 Worcester Rd. (Rte. 9), Natick, 508-652-0770;

Fabrics, Upholstery & Window Treatments

This store, in the Zimman family for more than a century, sells upward of 20,000 fabrics in its 40,000-square-foot space, including chenilles, silks, cotton prints, rich velvets, bold and cheery Marimekko fabrics, and green-friendly materials like hemp and linen. You can go upscale with a $150-a-yard hand-embroidered silk from India or hit the bargain basement. The knowledgeable staff will help you select fabric for window treatments, upholstery, or any other nesting project you dream up.

80 Market St., Lynn, 781-598-9432; 68 Towers St., Hudson, 978-567-9797;

Flooring, Eco-Friendly

Eco-friendly stamps are everywhere, but there’s still no such thing as magic wood (short of Harry Potter’s wand, we guess). The building materials at F. D. Sterritt, a 168-year-old family business, come closest to the real thing. Almost all the hardwoods in its Arlington Street yard are Forest Stewardship Council–certified, which means that even when they come from South America, they’re sustainably farmed and non–rainforest sourced. (Closer to home, Sterritt is even helping draft our state’s green residential building codes.) Since Sterritt does all the vetting, you can choose your poplar, oak, or maple with a clear conscience. Now, that’s pretty magical.

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

Flooring, Hardwood

For a wood lover, walking through Longleaf’s Cambridge showroom is like browsing through an expertly crafted, drool-worthy menu: creamy maple over here, honeyed pumpkin pine over there. The antique recycled wood is both gorgeous and exceedingly rare, including 20-inch-wide white pine planks (good luck finding that width elsewhere) and plenty of American chestnut (with only about 100 old-growth trees left in the U.S., they’re not making this anymore). Each one-of-a-kind plank is painstakingly salvaged from the likes of Pennsylvania barns, the Charlestown Navy Yard, even Everett’s old Charleston Chew factory.

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

Flooring, Stone

Renovations are stressful enough without having to make an appointment with a designer just to look at backsplashes. Ideal Tile is blissfully democratic, so anyone can stop by to browse its selection of standards (granite, marble, travertine) matched by an equally impressive array of the fancier stuff (onyx, river rocks, semi-precious stones). A crack installation team and a full-time interior designer round out the company’s one-stop shopping experience—just in case you need a little handholding after all.

244 Needham St., Newton, 617-559-0303; 60 Worcester Rd. (Rte. 9), Natick, 508-655-0011;


You may be better versed in honey highlights and chestnut lowlights than ambient, task, and accent lights, but the staff at Wolfers Lighting will get you up to speed. Ogle chandeliers in the showrooms; experiment with shadows and color in the lighting labs; and book a private consultation. They’ll handle it all, from the initial evaluation to the implementation of the products, indoors and out. The results will be so flattering, your home will look makeover-fresh.

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


A rainbow of paint hues—and all the tools you’ll need to color your walls—fills Babel’s. (Photo by Aaron Usher)


If attempting to distinguish among the chalky hues of sand, chamois, parchment, and clay leaves you seeing nothing but red, skip the automatons at the big-box retailer in favor of old-fashioned TLC at family-run Babel’s. Not only do design consultants roam the ever-changing, well-lit showrooms, ready to advise on color and décor, but they also make house calls. Sign up for a seminar for insider tips and trends. (Did you know that gray’s the new white?)

23 Cottage St., Norwood, 781-762-3128; 1424 Highland Ave., Needham, 781-444-7950; and other locations;


Unless your abode is outfitted with heated floors, New England’s chilly clime demands a rug underfoot.
Landry & Arcari creates and curates an impressive gallery of styles ranging from old-world to pop-modern. Here you’ll find proper needlepoints, earthy sisals, decorative florals, geometric kilims, Aubusson tapestries, and more, all of which you can take home for a tryout. Still can’t find that magic carpet? Collaborate with Landry’s experts on a custom design, hand-knotted and woven in Nepal, Pakistan, or India and delivered in as little as three months.

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


Exquisite, elaborate patterns made with porcelain, stone, glass, metal, leather, shells, and even wood line the walls and floors of this sumptuous Design Center showroom. One has to wonder: When and how did a material as mundane as tile become so inspired? The designs, like the tiger-print mosaic that incorporates five different kinds of colored stone, and the Mondrianesque installation of milky glass, make the ubiquitous all-white bathroom and kitchen seem beyond bland. Get ready for a redo.

Boston Design Center, One Design Center Pl., Ste. 342, Boston, 617-737-4646,


Wallpaper sample books are so darned cumbersome. Ditch the clunky tomes and make a pilgrimage to the Boston Design Center for panel after flippin’ panel of wall coverings that will satisfy any design whim, be it traditional, fanciful, practical, or exotic. From purple butterflies stamped against a turquoise trellis to Chinese landscapes handpainted on paper-backed silk, David Webster’s delicious offerings wow and inspire.

Boston Design Center, One Design Center Pl., Ste. 144-242, Boston, 617-261-9660;

Windows & Doors

Whether you’re building a medieval-style fortress, modest Craftsman bungalow, or ski house with expansive mountain views, Pella provides a solid range of top-quality doors and windows, as well as a half-dozen hardware styles and finishes, all at multiple price points. If your endeavor is more DIY than contractor-to-the-stars, free in-home consultations are available, as are reasonable financing plans. For splurge shoppers who insist on unique this and that, Pella offers custom colors (pick a paint chip, any paint chip, and they’ll match it) and styles.

170 Worcester St. (Rte. 9), Wellesley, 781-239-1161,

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.