Best of Boston Home 2010

Let’s face it: Construction and renovation are not for the faint of heart. Unless, that is, you’ve got expert guidance on your side. That’s where the Best of Boston Home comes in.


From Colonial homesteads to midcentury-modern deck houses, the Hub is filled with three centuries’ worth of projects for restoration-minded types. Returning a home to its former glory calls for patience and flexibility, but you’ll also need an array of professionals who revere the craftsmanship of bygone eras. Luckily, our area is filled with those, too.


Restoration Dream Team: Looking to restore your old home toits glory days? These folks can offer help of historic proportions. From Left: Charlie Allen, Charlie Allen Restorations, Contractor / Charles Myer, Charles R. Myer & Partners, Architect / Heidi Pribell, Heidi Pribell Interiors, Designer. (Photograph by Jorg Meyer)


One of the oldest and most jam-packed antiques stores on Charles Street, Marika’s may not appeal to the casual Beacon Hill tourist. Consider that a bonus: Once your eyes adjust to the light (and the sheer quantity of pieces), you’ll find yourself in an antiquer’s paradise of historic porcelain, 19th-century paintings, estate jewelry, and every silver service your grandmother ever coveted. Shopping here is an intrepid buyer’s treasure hunt.

130 Charles St., Boston, 617-523-4520


In addition to a profound appreciation for the history behind centuries-old homes, Myer brings improvisational flair (and an exceedingly gentle touch) to his projects. As one of the region’s most skilled restoration architects, he enhances designs of bygone eras to create lovely, livable spaces for today.

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


When your contractor is frequently compared to Honest Abe, you know you’re working with someone special. A Harvard grad with a Lincolnesque beard, Charlie Allen has pursued the art of historic restoration and renovation since 1978. Over the decades, he’s amassed a veritable trophy case of preservation awards while recruiting an equally talented staff (he even pays for their continuing education). Together, he and his team bring period homes back to their original luster, room by room. Allen’s company is admirably forward-looking, too: Project development manager Mark Philben is a certified green remodeler.

91 River St., Cambridge, 617-661-7411,


Designer Heidi Pribell’s Cambridge home reflects her love of 19th-century decorative arts movements. (Photograph by Eric Roth)


Pribell may not think of herself as a restoration designer: Her work feels fresh, never stodgy. And in a field of antiques aficionados and history devotees, she breathes life into older properties with her flawless use of color, custom furniture, and European fabrics. Pribell understands the spirit behind the periods in which she works, yet has a flexible sensibility that brings an exciting twist to everything she touches.

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


With 6,000 square feet dedicated to vintage hardware—plus fireplace mantels, lighting fixtures, and stained glass—Restoration Resources has anything your Beacon Hill brownstone or Brattle Street Victorian might need. It may take time to sift through box after box to find six matching crystal knobs, but you’ll get plenty of assistance from owner Bill Raymer and his well-informed staff.

1946 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-3033,


Owner Chris Osborne has been scouring auctions and flea markets for over three decades to build his collection of light fixtures, which is especially heavy on French Empire, art deco, and Victorian designs. The result is equal parts store and museum, where browsing may lead to an impromptu history lesson about, say, a 19th-century crystal and brass chandelier.

2226 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-547-1490,


Though this auction house’s antiques selection is one of the most celebrated in the country, its Oriental rug auctions fly under the radar. But the offerings are just as impressive: Several times a year, Skinner sells off rare 19th-century tribal and village weavings at prices ranging from a few hundred bucks to more than $18,000. Collections are curated by the city’s most knowledgeable rug appraiser, who exhaustively researches the carpets’ value and provenance.

63 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-350-5400; 274 Cedar Hill St., Marlborough, 508-970-3000;


Anyone who cringes at boring beige interiors should take inspiration from the Victorian era, when every wall was festooned with the kinds of lively colors and patterns you’ll find at J. R. Burrows. Founded by art historian John Burrows, this Rockport company has resurrected a sumptuous array of designs—from Candace Wheeler’s “Japanese Carp” to “The Stag” by C.F.A. Voysey—identical to wallpapers that would have hung in Victorian parlors. (In fact, many patterns here were originally discovered during the renovations of local homes.)

Rockland, 781-982-1812,


Magnificent art nouveau armoires, European card tables, and Japanese folding screens are but a few of the remarkable pieces you’ll find at this 10,000-square-foot antiques store in Somerville. Pooling retail and restoration expertise, JerryFreeman and Daniel McAuliffe createdthe Barn in 1999, and their partnership allowsthem to offer a particularly enticing package: Purchasea piece from Freeman at the store, then have McAuliffe customize it in his five-person restoration shop.

17 Murdock St., Somerville, 617-625-5204,

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.