Best of Boston Home 2009

best of boston home 2009

Photograph by Jorg Meyer

Accessories Architects & Designers Art

Contractors | Furniture Kitchen & Bath | Supplies

North South | West


best of boston home 2009

Greenwald specializes in eco-modern items like this felt fruit tray. (Photo by Josh Jakus)


Yes, yes, we know—reduce, reuse, recycle. Going green has become the zeitgeist of the aughts. Soon, the team behind Greenward hopes, it will just be a reflexive way of life. And they’re here to help us get there, with Starbucks-esque I Am Not a Paper Cup porcelain coffee mugs, Shower Coach timers (really), and recycled bike-chain bottle openers, among a vast array of other “eco-modern” objects.

1776 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-395-1338,


It’d be hard to find a Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental that doesn’t have Frette pillowcases. One touch, and it’s obvious why the best use the best. The storied linen giant recently debuted an outpost on Boylston Street, giving all Bostonians an excuse to upgrade their bedding with Egyptian cotton, silk, linen, or cashmere. Also available are sheets and bed accessories in edgier fabrics like python, deerskin, and lamb nappa. Most designs are delicate and surprisingly unassuming—perfect for Puritans at bedtime.

776B Boylston St., Boston, 617-267-0500,


Before the South End’s hipster explosion, there was Lekker. Owner Natalie van Dijk Carpenter’s vision was to create a store that harnessed the artistic energy of the burgeoning, diverse neighborhood; her foresight and discerning eye for Scandinavian design quickly catapulted the Washington Street shop to success. Five years later, thanks to wares like textured Pols Potten glasses, fired-clay Chris Stiles figurines, and portable oil lamps by Erik Magnussen, Lekker (which,
incidentally, has spawned a dozen of local copycats) is still the city leader in outstanding contemporary décor.

1317 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-6464,


As with New York’s Bergdorf Goodman and San Francisco’s Wilkes Bashford, we, too, have a nucleus of artsy cool: It’s called Louis Boston. Much has (deservedly) been made of the department store’s wearable fashions, but we’re reserving the real acclaim for the first floor, where shopping—to the beat of a live DJ—is like an Alice in Wonderland adventure through eclectic décor. Indian-inspired Ankasa throw pillows, black and white Fornasetti teacups, and kitschy Astier de Villatte bowls mingle with tantalizing displays of candles, knives, serving bowls, and linens. Few spaces in the city carry such a varied yet covetable selection of accessories. And it’s all ours.

234 Berkeley St., Boston, 617-262-6100,


At first, the sheer number of items at Bliss Home overwhelms, but then owner Panamai Manadee and her thoughtful staff lead you through the maze of flatware sets, goblets, wine glasses, pitchers, decanters, champagne flutes, and salt and pepper shakers. Suddenly, shopping is easy, especially for those partial to sleek white dishes and the occasional ornament in a pop of bright color. Manadee sources her goods from Italy, Finland, Japan, and everywhere in between.

121 Newbury St., Boston, 617-421-5544,


When some people think “Americana,” they think NASCAR and pickups. Not Jill Goldberg—her Americana is refined, beautiful, and collectable. The up-and-coming decorator defines her wares as “traditional with a twist”; quirky vintage decoupage plates, quasi-affordable handpainted bar glasses, and bright orange “bubble vases” are typical offerings at her two Boston-area locations. A mix of the useful (starburst mirrors) and the decorative (crackled silver spheres), everything in Goldberg’s artfully arranged petite shops makes perfect nesting material.

312 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-292-0900; 61A Central St., Wellesley, 781-239-0025;

Designers & Architects

best of boston home 2009

Hacin + Associates’ new FP3 loft complex in South Boston. (Photo by Bruce Martin)

Architect, Contemporary

To know architect David Hacin, the soft-spoken but smart-talking South Ender who always does contemporary right, is to adore him. Hacin was the designer behind the Fresh store’s superclean look, which has successfully spread to New York, L.A., and Vegas shops. Delighted with his aesthetic, the store’s owners, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg, contracted Hacin to do their Boston home. Another hint that this guy’s talent reaches beyond our town: His sexy penthouse was used as a set in Bruce Willis’s most recent film. We recommend calling him before he gets booked by a savvy Hollywood agent.

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

Architect, Eco-Friendly

Sure, you can spec bamboo floors and low-VOC paints, but we’d argue that to go truly green, you need to start fresh. Thompson has mastered a site-specific approach to low-impact living, eschewing high-tech solutions for simple, common-sense moves. She’ll orient the house to take advantage of natural light, add transoms to get the air moving naturally, and avoid placing windows on the north exterior wall. This is basic stuff, but it works. Oh, yeah—did we forget to mention that everything she touches wins a major design award, too?

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

Architect, Historic Renovations

With balusters missing, shag rugs covering water-damaged hardwoods, and a buckling ceiling, that 19th-century estate needs a little TLC. The best person to coax a house back to its former glory is in Cambridge. Myer adores the old-timey handiwork that makes Colonials, Victorians, and Craftsmans unique, but he also has a strong sense of how to incorporate newfangled ideas into a historic context. Which comes in handy, because no matter how much we wax nostalgic about the good old days, cooking in the dreary servants’ quarters in the dark basement just isn’t that much fun.

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


The rich detailing in this traditional home is a hallmark of Meyer & Meyer’s work. (Photo by Bruce Buck)

Architect, Traditional

Browsing the portfolio of this husband-and-wife team, we begin to get the feeling that simple modern design details may not be able to solve all of life’s messy problems. In fact, sometimes Corinthian columns and an ornately carved marble fireplace are just what the doctor ordered. In John and Laura Meyer’s extra-capable hands, traditional elements are well scaled, detailed, and researched.

396 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-266-0555,

Designer, Contemporary

The rich and luscious Roop approach to interiors makes us wonder why we ever settled for plain old paint in the first place. This former menswear devotee never met a material he didn’t want to use as a veneer or wall covering, and we never met a Roop design that didn’t make us ooh and ahh. But it’s his palette—shimmering blues, glittering golds, and vibrant greens—that gets us all hot and bothered, a very welcome departure from the standard-issue beiges that some designers too often mistake for classy.

224 Clarendon St., Ste. 31, Boston, 617-267-0818,

Designer, Hardscape

You would never wear a plastic poncho over an evening gown, right? So when it comes to designing your yard, always remember: Your outdoor space should complement your home. Indeed, hardscape is an extension of your house’s architectural design, according to Michael Coutu of Sudbury Design Group. For his team of landscape architects, architectural designers, graphic designers, and engineers, continuity is key—as is friendly, professional service.

740 Boston Post Rd., Sudbury, 978-443-3638,

Designer, Lighting

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful house. It was very well built and stocked with jaw-dropping furniture. Sadly, some of the rooms were so harshly lit that no one ever wanted to enter them, while some other rooms were frighteningly dark. Enter Lana Nathe, principal of Light Insight Design Studio. With a few waves of her magic lighting wand (and a licensed electrician), the house became a dazzling castle with just enough point lights and sconces that every room was adored by all.

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

Designer, Media Rooms

There’s a whole lot you can do once you start wiring up your walls, and Elite Media has at least a million tricks up its sleeve. Sure, there’s the home theater setup that links your video collection to every TV in the house, or the built-in speakers that can play your entire MP3 library, but that’s child’s play. Try adjusting lighting via touchscreen, then use the camera intercom to call the kids down for dinner—who, by the way, you’ve been monitoring from your soaking tub.

9 Forest St., Wellesley Hills, 781-237-2929,

Designer, Modern Landscape

If your taste in gardens leans eastward, then your yin will definitely yang with Zen Associates. Two of the three principals hail from Japan, bringing authenticity to their approach. In other words, they won’t deposit a Home Depot Buddha in your courtyard or babble on about feng shui. Instead, their exquisite sensitivity to scale, balance, and placement will produce a peaceful landscape, lovely to gaze upon throughout the seasons.

10 Micro Dr., Woburn, 800-834-6656,

Designer, Traditional

In Pribell’s world, interiors are a feast for the eyes and the mind—that means no boring wingback reproductions. She knows furniture the way your accountant knows tax laws. And trust us, a knowledge of the decorative arts is what you need when going for high-end traditional. She’ll juxtapose a rare highboy with chinoiserie wallpaper, then tell you the history behind both.

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

Designer, Traditional Landscape

Landscape architect Lombardi is an old-school romantic—his designs tend toward the lush and picturesque, perfectly suited to the patrician stone estates that surround Boston. Eschewing the lawn-meets-boxwood approach, Lombardi’s soft edges remind us of the best English country gardens, overflowing with grasses and wildflowers.

2235 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-492-2808,



Pixnit’s paint and vinyl installation Phosphorescence, at the Judi Rotenberg Gallery. (Image Provided)

Contemporary Gallery

In some contemporary art circles, deeming a work “beautiful” can be disparaging, as if beauty and intellectual heft are mutually exclusive entities. Yet the friendly young galleristas at Judi Rotenberg have the uncanny knack of finding artists whose work satisfies the eyes and the mind. They will talk to you at length about the sly feminism at play in the sculpture of Cal Lane, and they won’t roll their eyes if you ask what gouache is. The gallery has helped catapult artists into the international arena (sculptor Dave Cole is a case in point). Much of the credit goes to director Kristen Dodge, who has discovered talents like Lorna Williams by trolling local art schools.

130 Newbury St., Boston, 617-437-1518,

Faux Finishes & Murals

Looking for a trompe l’oeil ceiling mural that makes your living room feel like Rome’s Pantheon? Need a faux finish that transforms a pair of wooden columns into stately marble affairs? Muralist Julia Purinton has more than 25 years of experience with custom finishes, decorative plasters, and wall glazing. She’s also a painter represented by several East Coast galleries—her murals are objets d’art in their own right. Whether you want dripping wisteria blossoms, sylvan glades, or Tiepolo-style cupids on your walls, Purinton is happy to oblige. Alternately, she can go more streetwise: She recently festooned a client’s bathroom with Japanese graffiti.

Medusa Studio, Ipswich, 978-356-8753,


We reckon if collectors and museums trust A Street with their priceless pieces, we can, too. Its artisans will quickly win your confidence by helping you select the ideal frame, which will be custom-made on-site. Choose from 150 styles and 60 finishes; mats are archival and acid-free and come in a kaleidoscope of hues. The particularly inquisitive can ask for a behind-the-scenes tour of the selection of rough wood stock, the intricate milling process, and sanding and joining.

755 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-497-2259; 4 Clarendon St., Boston, 617-437-7761;

Traditional Gallery

Considering how many Boston-area galleries don’t last longer than five years (a half-dozen have closed within the past year alone), the fact that Vose has been around since 1841 is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, if more than 150 museums, including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, have shopped here over the decades, Vose must know a thing or two about art. The gallery specializes in 18th-, 19th-, and early-20th-century American realist paintings, especially landscapes. Small works on paper may go for as low as $450, but if you’re looking for an oil painting by Childe Hassam or Winslow Homer, expect to shell out more than $1 million. Throughout the gallery’s five-story brownstone, amid elegant antique furniture, you’ll find lovely wistful portraits by Lilla Cabot Perry and landscapes by Hudson River School painter Asher B. Durand.

238 Newbury St., Boston, 617-536-6176,



Builder Andrew Goldstein’s company, Thoughtforms, is adept at creating seamless spaces. (Photograph by John Edward Linden Photography)


Have you ever hired a builder, handed over the house keys, and then found a bunch of guys in your home who never even met the contractor you so carefully vetted? This would never happen with West Acton–based luxury builder Thoughtforms: The business prides itself on precision tuning and excellent customer service. Indeed, Andrew Goldstein’s company comes with its own cadre of master carpenters and craftspeople, plus an inventive custom millwork shop where they can produce almost any architectural detail to the most exacting specifications.

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

Cleaning Service

Even if you’re supremely tidy, it’s a safe bet you don’t check your fridge’s drip tray, dust away radiator cobwebs, and vacuum your closet floors every time you clean. That Masters Home Services does proves one thing: These folks are thorough. By combining an extensive checklist of regular cleaning duties with a rotating list of detail projects (wipe down door frames, clean the inside of your range hood) and using eco-friendly cleaning products on request, they leave behind nothing but shine.

8 Fletcher Terrace, Ste. 1, Watertown, 800-849-0078,


Used to be, decks were simple constructions—a few posts, beams, and joists here, some decking boards there. And that’s it. Today’s decks, however, are often as grand as the homes they’re attached to: multitiered extravaganzas with hot tubs, flowering planters, conversation areas, upholstered benches, and much more. Mercer Home Solutions delivers both low-maintenance, economical composite materials and high-end fine mahogany and other hardwoods; its designers and builders specialize in sprucing up yards with visual variety for a terraced feel.

Northborough, 508-331-8576,


Those quiet wires hiding behind your walls never give you any trouble… until they do. Or until you want to add central air, or install a ceiling fan, or upgrade your living room lighting, or add dimmers to save a little energy. In other words, electricians need to be very handy; knowing a good one can open up a whole new range of design possibilities. Employee-owned D’s Electric has four field crews, all of which deliver responsive and professional service every time. Since the company went into business 38 years ago, it has worked on projects big, small, modern, historic, and everything in between, building an impressive list of customers who are simply electrified by the quality of its work.

17 Woodworth St., Dorchester, 617-542-2000,


Fences have a big job: Keep unwanted things out (and loved ones in), as well as function as a decorative accessory to your backyard—a frame, if you will, around a green canvas. Forget chain link, vinyl, and hardwood (just imagine all the trees felled to create one fence!); instead, think bamboo, the world’s fastest-growing woody plant. Bamboo Fencer offers solutions for people who want to lend a custom-designed Eastern aspect to a Western lawn. From garden fences to patio screens to privacy gates, the material is always multifunctional, fresh, and modern.

190 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 888-381-3892,

Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Sure, wood floors are durable. But that doesn’t mean they should be sanded to shreds and slathered with lacquer when refinished. Continuing a family business founded in 1927, Duffy treats wood with TLC, assessing each floor and tailoring each job accordingly. He specializes in repairing and restoring inlaid designs and parquet flooring. New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall hired Duffy to redo its stage; your living room, then, should be a breeze.

369 Salem St., Medford, 781-395-3418,


Parterre Garden Services makes sure the grass is always greener outside your home. (Photo by Anton Grassi)

 Landscape Maintenance

When über-successful landscape architect Gregory Lombardi’s clients kept coming to him asking for garden care and property management referrals, he saw a need and quickly filled it. With its staff of gardeners and horticulturists, many of whom are certified in organic landscaping, Parterre installs and maintains beds and borders, as well as window boxes and seasonal décor. A single-point-of-contact policy means clients deal with the same employees over time, ensuring that their gardening goals (a.k.a. the “Property Profile Plan”) form a true growth strategy.

2235 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-492-2230; 878 Main St., Chatham, 508-593-3281;


Step into Van Millwork’s Needham showroom and be amazed by the array of architectural possibilities. Each themed room suggests a host of styles, finishes, and details that will transform ho-hum rooms into timeless works of art. For more than 40 years, the craftspeople at this custom shop have outfitted the woodwork in Boston’s stateliest homes, including elaborate turning staircases, 8-inch crown molding, thick custom maple doors, built-in neoclassical bookcases, classic Georgian mantels, and regal walnut wall paneling.

65 Crawford St., Needham, 781-444-8744,

Painter, Exterior

An exterior paint job is like a haircut: You see it every. single. day. So you’d better turn to someone you trust. Like a reliable stylist, Mauro Henrique consults with you extensively to nail down precise project dates and scope, and gives homes a great power wash before going to work. Throughout his 15 years in the business, Henrique’s attention to detail, professionalism, and refusal to use subcontractors have won him the respect of top area builders—and a spot on PBS’s cult classic The New Yankee Workshop.

124 Morrison Ave., Somerville, 617-628-7279,

Painter, Interior

Allowing painters into your home for days at a time can be slightly awkward, if not totally unnerving. Stephen Navarro and his team, however, are dream houseguests. A 25-year veteran, Navarro claims to have never fielded a customer complaint. (And if a problem does surface, he promises to repaint immediately.) Each member of his 10-person crew boasts at least a decade of experience, but Navarro still personally works on every project—and travels as far as the Hamptons and DC to make sure the job is done right.

71 Colburn St., Waltham, 781-893-8908


When his brother, Richard, became a TV star (he’s the resident plumber for This Old House), Robert Trethewey continued to run the plumbing and heating company started by their great-grandfather in 1902. Considering this history, we can only imagine what kind of spare parts the “Tbros” have stockpiled in their warehouse over the past century. And we bet there isn’t a single heating or plumbing system they haven’t seen—or fixed.

4280 Washington St., Roslindale, 617-325-3283,


Okay, okay, the kids are demanding a pool this summer (again). And considering global warming, it may just be a worthwhile investment. But no one in your fancy suburb will tolerate an above-ground, oil drum–like eyesore. No, you’ll need to spend some cash on a natural oasis, with carefully placed stones, a tiled interior, and a waterfall. Ferrari has a portfolio chock-full of just that kind of thing, all custom-designed and constructed by its own crew. So order one up and make your pool-less neighbors sweat with envy.

19 Brigham St., Unit 6, Marlborough, 800-448-6483,

Small Repairs

Whether you inhabit a centuries-old brownstone or a newly built residence, you probably have The List: a catalog of niggling little problems that you never quite get around to fixing, from loosening a sticky window to replacing broken bathroom tiles and recaulking the tub. You could stress about The List for another six months, or you could have Fred Ferris come over and knock off every single item, probably in less time than it took you to accidentally install your air conditioner upside-down. (He’ll fix that, too.)

122 Farrington Ln., Marlborough, 617-733-6316,



Ligne Roset’s modern furniture lends homes a spare, unfussy aesthetic. (Photo Provided)

Modern Furniture

Louis Ghost chair? Been there. George Nelson bubble lamp? Done that. Looking for modern furnishings but can’t stomach another piece that pops up in every “of-the-moment” house? Take refuge from the overdone in Ligne Roset’s Boston store: The plush seating (check out the playful, bright-hued Togo sofa and the versatile Smala sofa/chaise/bed), occasional furniture, and accessories are delightfully current—yet totally distinctive.

200 Boylston St., Boston, 617-451-2212,

Antique Furniture

At some antiques shops, it’s hard to shake the feeling you’re raiding Grandma’s attic. Walking into this Beacon Hill store is more like entering someone’s home—someone with exquisite taste, that is. If you detect a flicker of sadness when owner François Bardonnet sells you a museum-quality piece like, say, a 19th-century French writing table, it’s because he genuinely adores every carefully researched item he carries. (Unlike Grandma, who’s happy to hand over her broken owl lamp.)

44 River St., Boston, 617-973-6601,

Children’s Furniture

One of two relatively new Magic Beans locations, the Wellesley store boasts a showroom filled with cribs, highchairs, and bouncy seats from status baby-gear brands like Stokke, Svan, and Oeuf NYC, along with all the bedding and décor needed to accessorize them. Lest you suspect that a $900 crib is all hype, the staffers’ encyclopedic knowledge of furniture and safety standards will assuage your fears (and possibly convince you that you need a $350 bassinet as well).

200 Linden St., Wellesley, 781-235-2120,

Traditional Furniture

“Traditional,” in the worst sense, means boring, mass-produced, and uninspired. In the best sense, it means timeless style, meticulous craftsmanship, and attention to detail. William Henry’s custom wood furnishings are the latter: beds, tables, desks, bookcases, and chairs in classic shapes, made to get better with age. The Harvard Square showroom is decidedly unstuffy (read: kid- and dog-friendly), and while you can’t rush quality, having its workshop in nearby Winchendon means custom orders usually get to Boston in no time.

152 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge, 617-497-1507,

Kitchen & Bath

kitchen and bath

Just add aromatherapy: a spa-like sanctuary by Designer Bath. (Photo Provided)

Bath Supplies

Backsplash. Lighting. Hardware. Outfitting a WC can be overwhelming. At this North Shore showroom, the sales staff acts more like your personal shopper, guiding you through everything from staples (vanities from Woodpro and Vanity Flair) to accessories (Rohl and Franke fixtures). Once you’ve picked out the basics, wander among the luxe amenities like floor heaters and towel warmers. Now, what was your budget again?

97 River St., Beverly, 800-649-2284,

Appliances, Large

Shoppers can’t keep their hands off the appliances in Clarke’s gleaming, massive showroom. Luckily, the displays are designed to be manhandled, so ask one of the diligent employees to show you how the icemaker inside that Sub-Zero works. There are also Wolf ovens and Best hoods—clearly, quality is a benchmark. Don’t believe us? Ask chef Ming Tsai, who tapes his PBS series, Simply Ming, in the showroom’s amphitheater.

393 Fortune Blvd., Milford, 800-842-5275,

Appliances, Small

It’s everything plus the kitchen sink at this 85-year-old appliance warehouse. The 16,000-square-foot space contains faucets, lighting, dishwashers, fans, and yes, sinks from brands like Miele and KitchenAid. It’s all neatly displayed in a bright, uncluttered space and, because Yale considers every budget, it’s a smart option for those just starting out (not to mention anyone looking to upgrade). Bonus: The in-house chef performs demos most days, so you can see the goods at work.

296 Freeport St., Boston, 888-925-3463,


Few of today’s “eco-friendly” companies walk the walk like Moda Cucina. By designing and manufacturing its cabinets at a green facility in Boston, its carbon footprint is miniscule. And the design doesn’t suffer for it: European-style elegance and classic lines hit just about every aesthetic target. You’ll pay the price for such handiwork, but it tends to hurt less when you know exactly where your green is going.

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


While its design studio excels at all aspects of kitchen and cabinetry design, Divine Kitchens’ countertop options are what set it apart. The selections include Michigan maple block, lava stone, glass, and stainless steel, among others. Even better, it will mind your budget (however large or small), making the process downright enjoyable.

40 Lyman St., Westborough, 508-366-5670,



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,



Dave West hires only gentlemen: His crew members are forbidden to swear or take off their shirts, so you won’t have to spirit your kids away when they show up. Trained in architectural engineering, West can also give you design advice (if and when you want it) and use his design background to bond with your architect. (Trust us—this is important, especially when you’ve got a complex design that no one is quite sure how to build.) But what really sets Meadowview apart is its workers’ craftsmanship and attention to detail on each and every project, be it a kitchen redo or new home.

97 Tenney St. #7, Georgetown, 978-887-2587,

Cleaning Service

You hire a team to build or paint your house, so why hire just one person to clean it? Even for a small home, Mathew’s sends over an army of workers, each a specialist in a specific cleaning task. Using this approach, they make short work of an arduous job, and ensure their cleaning will to be up to “white glove” standards. P.S.: For those surprise visits from your mother-in-law, the team will jump into action on a few days’ notice.

Ipswich, 978-804-6249,


You may question Roy Spittle Associates’ motto, “There are no problems, only solutions,” when your lights go on the fritz, but you’ll be happy when his solution makes your problem vanish as if it never existed. Spittle has been in the business for more than 45 years, and his son, Tom, who now runs the company, specializes in designing electrical systems. With a staff of 25, they respond quickly in an emergency, but you still get that warm, family-owned feeling.

 5 Heritage Way, Gloucester, 978-283-2299,

Hardware Store

Who needs a big-box store when you can find practically the same inventory and more knowledgeable sales staff at Dawsons? This is the store that North Shore contractors go to when they need an obscure tool or that all-important widget. Dawsons also carries everything for the rest of us, including gardening supplies, propaneeven toys.

50 Enon St., Beverly, 978-927-1320


Hand John Filias a sketch on a napkin (or just take him into your backyard and point), then unleash this landscaper on your trees and shrubs. He has the vision and ability to transform vague ideas into feng shui–worthy designs, making him a one-stop shop for design and execution in earthwork, stone, and greenery.

Manchester-by-the-Sea, 978-768-3359,


He doesn’t have a website and it’s hard to get an appointment with him, but hunting down master stonemason Willie Lach will undoubtedly pay off. A local treasure on the North Shore with 35 years of experience repointing brick chimneys and setting stone walls, Lach is also profoundly steeped in local lore and, once he warms up, will regale you with amazing stories about the area’s colorful past.

Danvers, 978-774-4679

Painter, Exterior

A painter is only as good as his prep work, and McManus masterfully washes, caulks, and sands surfaces so they grab as much of the new application as possible. Then his paint goes on evenly, the mark of a true craftsman. The owner of a stately Colonial or a weather-beaten Cape will also appreciate McManus’s winning personality and his ability to guide clients in picking bold or unusual colors, if that’s what they desire.

3 Hugh Hill Ln., Beverly, 978-921-0132,

Painter, Interior

When you got your first apartment out of college, you thought painting was a simple task. But after tracking paint all over your hardwood floors (and splattering your cat), you realized—as we all do—there’s a reason people hire professionals. Painting requires patience and an obsessive attention to detail. Enter Scott Salah. His team painstakingly tapes off each room to make sure every line is straight, and dutifully covers every piece of furniture within a quarter-mile radius.

27A Walnut St., Peabody, 978-977-7467,


If you want the latest technology to heat and cool your home, call Brian Bilo. He won’t bring you a dog-eared brochure or try to sell you last year’s model. Instead, he’s a young and energetic expert who has thrown himself into learning about the most upscale and efficient brands. Plus, his mechanical room designs are so well drawn, you may want to frame them.

5 Greens Point Rd., Ipswich, 978-468-4389



A contemporary light-filled home by GF Rhode Construction overlooks the Westport River. (Photo by Kent Dayton)


The folks at GF Rhode have performed some fairly extreme home makeovers through the years, but their forte is doing everything—from the construction and detailing to customer service—absolutely spot-on. That’s probably why Rhode received a coveted innovation award from the National Association of Home Builders in 2005. Known for their whole-house renovations and very high-end custom work, they have forged strong relationships with the most demanding architects in the region. Knowing how fussy architects can be about their projects, that’s the clincher for us.

1666 Hyde Park Ave., Boston, 617-364-2700,

Cleaning Service

The Kingston branch of this Boston-based cleaning company loves dirty talk. It’s part of the curriculum at MaidPro University, where each prospective employee gets well versed in grime, grease, and how to handle each of the chores on the company’s 49-point checklist. Does your cleaning service (or spouse) tackle all 49? Here are a few standard tasks from MaidPro’s file: remove fingerprints on appliances, dust tops of picture frames, empty trash cans, and fluff pillows. We
didn’t think so.

65 Summer St., Kingston, 781-585-9100,


This family-owned company embodies those “small-town values” that politicians always talk about. Owner Scott Matthews believes in taking the time to educate customers about electrical issues and ways to make life a little “greener,” but he also believes that taking care of every client, one call at a time, will build his business. His charming, homespun website includes answers to 76 electrical FAQs. (Our personal favorite: “How do I change a light bulb?” His response is seven bullet points long.)

816 Webster St., Units 2–3, Marshfield, 781-293-3271,

Hardware Store

Curry Ace staffers are like kin to many South Shore dwellers, and not just because employees in this third-generation family-owned business refer to their customers as “neighbors.” Proffering everything from hinges and tools to Carhartt clothing and Anti Monkey Butt Powder, Curry has what you need, and you’ll get it with a wink and a smile. Be sure to ask about the stores’ extensive line of green products when you stop by. Oh, and the Curry family is also committed to the community: They founded the annual Quincy Medical Center Cancer Walk more than a decade ago.

370 Copeland St., Quincy, 617-472-8250; 190 Quincy Ave., Braintree, 781-843-1616;


Not just a landscaper, not just a florist (with delivery available), not just a nursery, not just a hardscaper, but a full-blown landscape architect, too? South Shore, you are so lucky. Owner Steven Tomasi, heir to the family business, runs this 50-person full-service company on several acres in Pembroke. Like his father, he’s built a successful business on the one-stop-shopping model. Only here can you order your flower arrangements, pick up your bulbs at the nursery, and then contract to get your lawn mowed once a week while working with the staff to design your back forty.

299 Oak St., Pembroke, 781-826-7200,

 Painter, Exterior

Starbucks, Verizon, Eastern Mountain Sports, TJ Maxx. If these companies trust their painting needs to Wood, you’ve got to figure you’re in pretty good hands. This Quincy-based outlet spends 90 percent of its time doing commercial jobs but strives to give large homes and estates the same level of professional quality. For more than 30 years, the family-owned company has been splashing color up and down the East Coast.

258 Willard St., Quincy, 617-773-3767,

Painter, Interior

If it seems odd to be calling upon a place called Hingham Doors & Drawers for painting help, rest assured: Owner Klaus Freyer is a carpenter by trade (specializing in crown moldings, renovations, and custom furniture) but happens to be a whiz with a brush. Providing service to Hingham and beyond, Freyer says he prides himself on putting together bold colors to make something unique for each customer. Meticulous preparation and double priming of all work promise a finish that’s painted to last.

Hull, 617-968-3290,


For most homeowners, setting aside a six-hour window for a plumber to come and diagnose a leak is hardly practical. Hubbard Plumbing understands that. The small company makes specific appointments and actually sticks to them, so you can get back to your routine. And if you need help on the fly, it provides last-minute emergency service as well. Stop into the shop, which doubles as a showroom, just to say hello. The staff will offer you a cup of joe and a smile.

1944 Ocean St., Marshfield, 781-837-6297

Small Repairs

Tim Heroux and his crew have earned the trust of 150 families around the South Shore—and they’re always eager to add a few more keys to their collective ring. Jobs range from roofing to wallpapering to windows to woodwork; basically, if you can think of it, they can do it. Just in case you do your best thinking at night, the company offers 24-hour service at no extra charge.

Braintree, 617-816-7200,



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.

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