Best of Boston Home 2011

In our quest to compile the ultimate guide to design and construction, we did our research just the way you would—by polling trusted industry pros, checking and cross-checking references, and pounding the pavement.


New England has pros aplenty committed to reviving period homes.


Beautiful millwork and delicate balusters are the hallmarks of an expert restorer’s work. (Photograph by Eric Roth)


Since 1939 the Brodney family has amassed a mind-blowing array of precious goods in their packed Newbury Street shop. If you can make it past the estate-jewelry cases on the first floor, you’ll find yourself upstairs among sumptuous displays of European porcelain, glass, and china sets. While shopping for more practical wares, consider our favorite find: a rare cobalt-blue-and-gold Gorham pitcher with a sterling silver top for $2,050.

145 Newbury St., Boston, 617-536-0500,


The Barn at 17’s warehouse and restoration workshop hold a bounty of treasures, ranging from late-18th-century armoires to mid-20th-century credenzas. In addition, Dan McAuliffe, who co-owns the company with Jerry Freeman, can repair damaged pieces that most other dealers would leave for dead. A late-19th-century French boillait card table that he found in ruins, for example, now glistens in the showroom, its green leather top and intricate gold tooling fully restored. And if your grandmother’s bureau is suffering from years of neglect, McAuliffe can bring it back to life in just a few weeks.

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


This Newburyport home, restored by Frank Shirley, brings the past to life. (Photograph by Randy O’Rourke)


To do a restoration right, you need serious historical knowledge, something that Frank Shirley has in spades. Whether he’s completely reviving a Newburyport mansion or lifting a roof to add a third-level living space, the author of the book New Rooms for Old Houses knows how to insert modern amenities into ancient structures without compromising their period appeal. If you’re missing the home’s original 1810 staircase, he’ll design one that even purists would swear is authentic.

75 Henry St., Cambridge, 617-547-3355,

Scott Gregorian of Gregorian Rugs

“Enjoying art at this level is a treat and a pleasure; I get to combine what I love with making a living. It’s a wonderful opportunity.” —Scott Gregorian, co-owner, Gregorian Oriental Rugs (Photograph by Jarrod McCabe)


Boasting more than 70 years in the trade, the Gregorian family appreciates the amount of work that goes into making beautiful rugs. Their showroom, located in a renovated Colonial mill, is the perfect place to browse several thousand handwoven designs, from Sarouks to densely knotted Bidjars, the “cast-iron rugs of the East.” An entire room is devoted to antique carpets accumulated over decades of trading, chosen as much for their beauty as for their rich histories and symbolism.

2284 Washington St., Newton Lower Falls, 617-244-2553,


Tom Payne’s team has completed jaw-dropping period restorations for the most discriminating Bostonians, which means they’re as demanding about workmanship as their clients are. Their in-house wood shop can re-create complex historical details and millwork, including cabinetry, doors, windows, and fancy moldings. With top-to-bottom know-how, particularly in kitchens, baths, and exteriors, this personable crew of builders and renovators will see a custom task through from start to finish, and will likely win your affections in the process.

173 Norfolk Ave., 617-445-4323,


Beacon Hill’s E. R. Butler displays its collection of fine architectural hardware as if it were precious jewelry. The company specializes in early American, Federal, and Georgian hardware, all painstakingly crafted (partly by hand) to almost exactly match the original styles—save for invisible, 21st-century improvements in function, that is. Butler also produces custom hardware to order, collaborating with customers, architects, and designers to ensure aesthetic perfection.

38 Charles St., Boston, 617-722-0230,


Now celebrating 30 years of design savvy, Meyer & Meyer can handle a wide range of restorations with mastery. Architect John Meyer and his wife, Laura, an interior designer, stay actively involved throughout an entire project. Together they’ve renovated Boston’s Harvard Club, the University Club, and the Public Garden’s tool house, as well as numerous high-end residences. Their finished products consistently prove that any space—big or small, antique or modern—can be stunning.

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


This family-owned business, housed in a classic barn, carries a spectacular collection of glass shades and antique lights, ranging from Colonial lanterns to 1920s art deco torchères, Spanish wrought-iron candelabras, and a magnificent 400-pound chandelier from Harvard Medical School’s Vanderbilt Hall. Brothers Scott, Gary, and Bruce Sweeney provide a full spectrum of lighting services, including sales, repairs, reproduction, and restoration. Their work appears in historic sites throughout the region, such as the Lyman Estate, the Boston State House, and Sudbury’s Longfellow Inn.

357 Commonwealth Rd., Wayland, 508-653-0031,


Trained as an art historian, John Burrows offers beautiful wallpapers based on Arts and Crafts patterns of the late-19th century. All designs are expertly printed, sometimes requiring as many as 10 separate hand screenings to complete. See Burrows’s papers on the walls of the Aesthetic Movement gallery in the new Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts; they can also be found in MFA director Malcolm Rogers’s own home.

393 Union St., Rockland, 781-982-1812,

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.