Best of Boston Home 2016

The region’s top architects, designers, builders, and showrooms.

best of boston home 2016 kristine irving koo de kir architectural interiors

Kristine Irving, Koo de Kir Architectural Interiors, South End. / Photograph by Nat Rea

Architects and Designers

Every home is unique. Thankfully, the region’s arbiters of taste run the gamut, from staunch traditionalists to die-hard modernists. Here, 16 remarkably creative firms to consider for your next project.

Best coastal architect
Patrick Ahearn Architect

Patrick Ahearn’s decades-spanning work has made him the go-to guy for those seeking a Camelot-style coastal retreat. And this year, he scored the buzzy assignment of creating HGTV’s annual Dream Home on Martha’s Vineyard. Harnessing time-honored Yankee craftsmanship (rough-hewn wooden beams, classic shutters), he unified a three-building estate.

160 Commonwealth Ave., Ste. L3, Boston, 617-266-1710, patrickahearn.com.

best of boston home 2016 anmahian winton architects

Anmahian Winton Architects. / Photograph by Jane Messinger

Best contemporary architect
Anmahian Winton Architects

Anmahian Winton’s strikingly modern works punctuate their environments like exclamation points, from a zinc-paneled jewel box of a home dropped among the Cambridge Colonials to a Japanese teahouse–inspired retreat with angular copper roofs and wide glass windows set in the Maine woods. The firm’s crown jewel, however, is Community Rowing’s Harry Parker Boathouse, where louvered panels evoke waves—and offer ventilation for shell storage.

650 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-577-7400, aw-arch.com.

Best contemporary interior designer
Koo de Kir Architectural Interiors

Koo de Kir design principal (and MassArt grad) Kristine Irving draws inspiration from the unlikeliest of sources: early Renaissance paintings, a pint of beer, classic film. Less interested in trends, she brings an artist’s eye to every space, confidently combining textures and colors to cheerful effect. A recent project, a 3,200-square-foot South End home (featured on page 116), demonstrates her enviable skills, including a classic brownstone entryway all done up in—shocker—an exuberant Florence Broadhurst wallcovering.

516 E. Second St., Boston, 617-268-8111, koodekir.com.

best of boston home 2016 lindsay bentis

Lindsay Bentis, Newton. / Photograph by Nat Rea

Best family-friendly interior designer
Lindsay Bentis

The exterior may be New England, but Lindsay Bentis’s warm and engaging interiors are all laid-back West Coast. When the artist, L.A. native, and mom of three designs a room, she says, “I look at it the same way I would a painting—like a composition with layers, textures, and clean lines.” Bentis’s work mixes new and vintage artwork and furniture to create family-friendly spaces imbued with deeply personal touches, such as the set of silhouettes she commissioned for a family of seven for their Cape Cod vacation home.

617-686-1012, threadartanddesign.com.

best of boston home 2016 peter rose partners

Peter Rose + Partners. / Photograph by Chuck Choi

Best green architect
Peter Rose + Partners

Peter Rose has long been answering the increasingly urgent call for sustainable design. And his most recent projects are among his best: The Vineyard’s East House, for example, features modular concrete units that can be relocated in response to coastal erosion—a concept so groundbreaking that it won the Boston Society of Architects’ Best Housing Design award in 2015. Now under construction: a fully off-the-grid Turkish residence on the Aegean made up of four buildings that use an innovative combination of solar, geothermal, and wind energy.

242 E. Berkeley St., Boston, 617-494-0202, roseandpartners.com.

best of boston home 2016 louis ashman

Louis Ashman, Jamaica Plain. / Photograph by Bob O’Connor

Best interior planner
Louis Ashman

Sometimes a pair of fresh eyes makes all the difference. That’s why, before hitting the showrooms, interior planner Louis Ashman likes to shop his client’s existing collections for opportunities to reupholster, recontextualize, and reframe. As he discovers (and rescues) things that have value or meaning, he not only produces a completely personalized aesthetic, but he also creates a space that, as he says, is “grounded in something real.” A recent Jamaica Plain whole-house renovation, featuring deep-dark floors, a range of blues and grays, and one of the loveliest kitchens around, earned Ashman the cover of Boston Home this past summer.

617-543-8544.

best of boston home 2016 lda architecture interiors

LDa Architecture & Interiors, Needham. / Photograph by Sean Litchfield

Best kitchen architect
LDa Architecture & Interiors

Kitchens are notoriously difficult to personalize (for proof, look no further than the cookie-cutter Formica countertops and wood-lipped cabinets of our parents’ generation). LDa, however, brings an architect’s eye to the problem. The same Cambridge firm responsible for an open-concept indoor/outdoor Vineyard kitchen swathed in sail-white millwork also expanded a 1920s Newton Tudor to accommodate a large prep-and-eating area and plenty of built-ins. Versatility, it seems, is the recipe for success.

222 Third St., Cambridge, 617-621-1455, lda-architects.com.

best of boston home 2016 matthew cunningham landscape design

Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design, Brookline. / Photograph courtesy of Matthew Cunningham

Best landscape architect
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design

Growing up in coastal Maine, Matthew Cunningham learned that you can’t tame New England’s wilds; you can only adapt to them. Now his Stoneham landscape firm is bringing that philosophy to urban and suburban environments, delicately balancing the manmade with the natural: A Comm. Ave. rooftop garden overflows with vibrant perennials, grasses, and herbs, while a Newton yard juxtaposes reclaimed-stone retaining walls with modern stainless steel deck railings.

411 Main St., Stoneham, 617-905-2246, matthew-cunningham.com.

Best new england vernacular architect
Siemasko + Verbridge

Siemasko + Verbridge understands the timeless New England aesthetic, refined to honor and reinvigorate our region’s natural blessings. Imagine an 11-story Manchester lighthouse transformed into a nautically inspired, fully livable “vertical land yacht”; and an 1800s-inspired farmhouse set on a rambling 30-acre pasture in the North Shore, its great room constructed of 300-year-old barn wood.

126 Dodge St., Beverly, 978-927-3745, svdesign.com.

Best traditional architect
Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects

The curious case of a three-generation Yale legacy—alum turned professor James Righter taught Jacob Albert, who later taught John Tittmann— resulted in this firm, which excels in classicism. But the trio can also reframe traditional styles through a creative lens: Take the Lantern House, a Connecticut farmhouse named for the shape of its glazed entrance porch; or Rocksyde, a Cape Ann home inspired by Kragsyde—the shingle-style property that once occupied a neighboring plot—but embellished with a staircase constructed of black and white boxes.

262 Washington St., Boston, 617-451-5740, alriti.com.

best of boston home 2016 kristin paton interiors

Kristin Paton Interiors. / Photograph by Eric Roth

Best traditional interior designer
Kristin Paton Interiors

Kristin Paton favors timeless over trendy and doesn’t like “things that look too new.” Translation: She relishes the hunt for fine antiques and exotic accessories (intricate wood pagodas, old maps, starfish, rare prints in gilded frames). Her own Cambridge home, featured in the fall 2015 issue of Boston Home, showcases dozens of brilliant design ideas, including a mirrored breakfast nook that feels like a Parisian café and a dining room papered in the most delightful custom chinoiserie pattern.

152 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge, 617-491-9000, kristinpatoninteriors.com.

best of boston home 2016 d michael collins architects kenneth vona construction gregory lombardi design parterre garden services

D. Michael Collins Architects, Kenneth Vona Construction, Gregory Lombardi Design/Parterre Garden Services, Concord. / Photograph by Jeff Adams

Best transitional architect
D. Michael Collins Architects

Picture an east-facing Cape home with bay views, sunrise to sunset, from every room, or an ultra-energy-efficient farmhouse incorporating antique and recycled materials. If you can dream it, D. Michael Collins can execute it, deftly moving between traditional and contemporary elements while emphasizing open space. See: the stylish, 7,000-square-foot home he managed to site on a steeply inclined cliff; with 17-foot cathedral ceilings, the abode gracefully echoes its lofty wooded locale.

21 Eliot St., South Natick, 508-651-7099, dmcarch.com.

Best transitional interior designer
Nina Farmer Interiors

At first blush, Nina Farmer’s rooms look like those formal, pets-off parlors of yore. Look closer. True, she seamlessly melds regal elements of the past—1920s leather club chairs, Moroccan poufs, and the mother of all cut-crystal chandeliers—but all with a keen understanding of how we live now. (Resilient fabrics? Check. A hidden TV in the formal living room? Check.) With every project, Farmer combines a deep appreciation for Boston’s historical homes with a passion for making those same spaces function on a daily basis for kids, pets, and the occasional overinebriated guest.

6 Walnut St., Boston, 917-582-4864, ninafarmerinteriors.com.

best of boston home 2016 hacin associates

Hacin + Associates, Boston. / Photograph by Trent Bell

Best urban architect
Hacin + Associates

For more than 20 years, David Hacin’s South End studio has designed buildings that answer the question of how urban centers are evolving. Cases in point: Laconia Lofts, the 99-unit artist live/work space that catalyzed the SoWa district’s transformation into an arts ’hood; and the 97-unit FP3 building, a pioneer among the revitalized Seaport’s luxury residences. On the micro level, Hacin can transform a historical Beacon Hill townhouse into a lofty six-story home ascended via a glass staircase, and juxtapose antique elements of a 19th-century brick abode with modern millwork. He’s never tied to tradition.

112 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-426-0077, hacin.com.

best of boston home 2016 bunker workshop

Bunker Workshop. / Photograph by Matthew Delphenich

Best urban-kitchen architect
Bunker Workshop

Maximizing square footage is paramount when revamping a cramped city kitchen, and Bunker Workshop’s Chris Greenawalt has cooked up all kinds of smart, space-saving tricks. In Greenawalt’s world, a nonfunctioning pizza oven is given new life as a shelved alcove, and dark cabinetry and a light-hued, flow-enabling island combine to create the illusion of extra square footage. He’s also known to spice things up with tasty eye candy (hello, crimson corrugated-steel backsplash).

Charlestown, 617-447-3733, bunkerworkshop.com.

best of boston home 2016 butz klug

Butz + Klug, Brookline. / Photograph by Eric Roth

Best urban-renovation architect
Butz + Klug

It’s fitting that Butz + Klug is based in the gritty-gone-glam South End, given this four-person firm’s gift for breathing new life into timeworn urban spaces. For proof, check out the five-story Boston townhouse they updated with two levels of floor-to-ceiling cantilevered windows, the coordinating original millwork still intact. Or the Victorian-era Italianate home in Brookline, where the kitchen sports a layered concrete island surrounded by lacquered orange cabinets.

157 W. Newton St., Boston, 617-536-7399, bkarch.com.

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.