Home Design

Best of Boston Home 2020

Our annual guide to the region’s top designers, builders, and makers.


As Bostonians, we’re surrounded by some of the country’s finest designers, builders, and makers. Here, we spotlight 35 of them, celebrating all the ways they make our homes—and lives—more beautiful.

The Designers

The Builders

The Makers

Left to right: Kristina Crestin, John Carlton, Lisa Tharp / Photos by Joe St. Pierre

The Designers

COASTAL ARCHITECT
Hutker Architects

When it comes to masters of coastal design, Hutker Architects remains unrivaled. The team of pros continues to wow us with their contemporary abodes—each thoughtfully engineered to maximize ocean views and flood even the darkest of spaces with light. Minimalist details such as cable railings and trim work seem to diminish from sight while glass partitions and oversize windows take center stage. And no matter the room, Hutker puts equal thought into all parts of a house. To wit: A recently designed glass-floored hallway—which appears to glow from beneath—that may be just as stunning as the Cape home’s airy master bath, equipped with a Japanese soaking tub overlooking the coast.

533 Palmer Ave., Falmouth, 508-540-0048; hutkerarchitects.com.

COASTAL INTERIOR DESIGNER
Kristina Crestin Design

When you set foot in a Kristina Crestin–designed space, you may not notice the subtle nautical elements. But that’s on purpose: “I love to challenge [myself] to avoid trite coastal motifs,” the North Shore–based interior designer says. So how does she create the laid-back feel that comes along with living shoreside? Crestin adds texture, millwork, and a splash of blue—all inspired by the water. In a recent project, she channeled the Ipswich River into a bold bunkroom, decked out with a wave-like wallcovering and navy shiplap door panels. As for the rest of the house? Turquoise accents, playful hooks shaped like fish, and a hanging chair with views of the marshes anchored it perfectly.

978-890-7186, kristinacrestindesign.com.

Kristina Crestin. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

WINNER SPOTLIGHT

Name/Title: Kristina Crestin/Principal
Company: Kristina Crestin Design
Years in the Industry: 17

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
Take your time to learn. Ask questions. There is no cutting ahead.
Do the work. Earn it.

Who is one of your design heroes?
Thom Filicia is someone whose work I love, but also whose career I admire. It’s brilliant how he has [an interior-design] career and, at the same time, has moved into the world of product design. He comes across as professional, open, and friendly while being classy about it all.

Where do you shop for pieces for your own home?
I shop for my own home? There’s time for that? Lately the only things I’ve been buying are plants at Kane’s Flower World in Danvers, my favorite greenhouse on the North Shore. I’ve been investing in restoring my 1955 Chevy pickup truck; that’s taken time and resources, so she gets all my investment—not my house! I bought some beautiful mudcloth from Etsy for my truck seats. It’s gorgeous!

CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECT
LDa Architecture & Interiors

If there’s one thing the team at LDa Architecture & Interiors knows well, it’s that creativity lies at the heart of contemporary design. Whether they’re designing a solar panel–equipped butterfly roof or filling three walls of a living room with large expanses of glass (or both, in the case of principal Treff LaFleche’s own Newton home), these pros make ingenuity look effortless. But while LDa deftly uses contemporary forms and materials, the nearly 30-year-old firm doesn’t overlook the impact of a bit of traditional New England flair. Case in point: the shiplap walls they designed for a midcentury modern–inspired home in Wellfleet, or the clapboard-laden exterior the team selected for a sun-filled abode in Milton.

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

Left to right: John Day, Treff LaFleche, Kyle Sheffield, and Douglas Dick. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

WINNER SPOTLIGHT

Name/Titles: John Day, Douglas Dick, Treff LaFleche, and Kyle Sheffield/Principals
Company: LDa Architecture & Interiors
Years in the Industry: 27

Describe your aesthetic or design approach in three words.
John: Bright, thoughtful, timeless.

Who is one of your design heroes?
Douglas: Henry Hobson Richardson. Besides the architectural landmarks he created in Boston, he was the innovator of the New England Shingle style, merging traditional residential styles with more modern ideals of composition and lifestyle.

How did you first discover your passion for design?
Kyle: As a child, I always had an interest in creating objects that people could inhabit. Whether it was designing a fort in the backyard or a building made from wood blocks or Legos, my instinct was to observe the impact that form and structure had on the human experience.

What’s trending in your industry right now?
Treff: The creation of the “outdoor room.” This is an architectural, landscape, and furnishing exploration that’s [happening] as we strive to make spaces that [are] on the edge between inside and outside in the ever-changing climate that is New England.

CONTEMPORARY INTERIOR DESIGNER
Rachel Reider Interiors

Rachel Reider’s take on modern? Comfortable, cozy, and filled with color. Since founding her interior-design firm in 2006, Reider has bestowed her unique sensibilities on the area’s finest homes, bringing plush furnishings and metallic accents into an industrial South End loft, for instance, or taking a Shingle-style Weston abode to showstopping (and family-friendly) new heights with soft, neutral fabrics and traces of marble and glass. Every space the designer conjures boasts its own distinctive sparkle, thanks to Reider’s keen ability to layer just the right combination of textures, patterns, and hues—a true art form, if ever there was one.

535 Albany St., Boston, 617-942-2460, rachelreider.com.

KITCHEN DESIGNER
New England Design Works

If kitchen design is the perfect marriage of form and function, consider Karen Swanson the ultimate officiant. Since founding New England Design Works in 2011, the Boston Architectural College grad has presided over some of the area’s most covetable spaces, bringing harmony and cohesion to city and suburban abodes alike. Her refined kitchens—beautiful blends of custom cabinetry, well-placed islands, sleek butler’s pantries, hidden appliance garages, and sunny breakfast nooks—exude elegance and restraint. And she’s not bound to any one style, either: Swanson’s impeccable taste shines through whether she’s cooking up a transitional kitchen highlighted by soapstone counters and stainless steel appliances in Arlington or a modern space with a waterfall island and charcoal-hued cabinets (made by fellow Best of Boston Home honoree Bespoke of Winchester) in the South End.

978-500-1096, ne-dw.com.

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design

Local landscape architecture got a lot more interesting when Matthew Cunningham arrived on the scene. And now, 15 years after founding his own firm, the Maine native shows no signs of slowing down: Colorful, textured, and untamed in all the right ways, his carefully considered green spaces—routinely host to native plantings and salvaged stone—are still garnering attention from clients and colleagues near and far. Next up for Cunningham? The designer recently announced a teaching gig at Harvard, his graduate alma mater. With Cunningham helping shape the city’s next generation of landscape architects, we’re resting easy knowing the future of the field looks as bright as ever.

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

SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECT
ZeroEnergy Design

ZeroEnergy’s commitment to sustainability goes back—way back. Long before cities began banning plastic bags and straws, the firm’s cofounders led Cornell University’s Solar Decathlon team to a second-place finish for their off-grid, solar-home design. Although the team has since moved on to other endeavors, they set in motion a commitment to innovative sustainable building that still guides the company today. Now under the lead of architect (and local passive-house advocate) Stephanie Horowitz, the firm’s projects cleverly integrate rigid insulation, high-performance windows, and the like into modern family homes that stand apart in their neighborhoods (kindly direct your attention to the open-concept Lincoln farmhouse that, thanks to solar panels and other features, produces more energy than it uses). Sure, these homes may be passive, but their “wow” factor is anything but.

156 Milk St., Boston, 617-720-5002, zeroenergy.com.

TRADITIONAL ARCHITECT
Dell Mitchell Architects

It’s hard not to be impressed by this Back Bay firm, founded by principal Dell Mitchell in 1995. Comprising one magical moment after another (swoon-worthy dentil molding, grand archways, antique hardwood flooring), each of the team’s polished schemes underscores a keen understanding of classic design while also catering to the needs of the modern-day homeowner: a balancing act Dell Mitchell performs better than anyone else around. See, for example, the 19th-century Boston townhouse the group masterfully reconfigured around a five-story atrium, flooding the gut-renovated space—and the clients’ extensive art collection—with light. The home’s high ceilings, dramatic curved staircase, and capital-adorned columns? Just the icing on the (exquisitely designed) cake.

20 Newbury St., Boston, 617-266-0201, dellmitchellarchitects.com.

TRADITIONAL INTERIOR DESIGNER
LeBlanc Design

Speak with Tiffany LeBlanc for just a minute, and you’ll learn something her clients already know: She’s truly passionate about design. And it shows in her work. Inspired by her extensive travels through Europe and Asia, the native New Englander relies on texture-forward materials and finishes—and a few well-placed pops of color and pattern—to create classic yet comfortable spaces without an ounce of stuffiness. One recent success? The woodwork-heavy home in Newton she softened with romantic blush tones, metallic accents, and cuddle-friendly furniture. Light and airy, the reimagined Tudor is the perfect embodiment of LeBlanc’s covetable aesthetic: warm, welcoming, and carefully considered.

560 Harrison Ave., Boston, 857-957-0911, leblancdesign.com.

Jacob Lilley Architects’ “High Rock” project. / Photo by Greg Premru

Jacob Lilley Architects’ “High Rock” project. / Photo by Greg Premru

Jacob Lilley Architects’ “High Rock” project. / Photo by Greg Premru

TRANSITIONAL ARCHITECT
Jacob Lilley Architects

Modern and traditional sensibilities blend beautifully in the work of Jacob Lilley, who cut his teeth at a number of acclaimed architecture firms before launching his own Wellesley-based company in 2012. Trained at Cornell University, Lilley now leads a small team of designers, focusing on custom renovations and new builds that skillfully toe the line between contemporary and classic. For proof, feast your eyes on Lilley’s own abode—featured in this issue’s Heading Home column (page 160)—or the firm’s thoughtfully scaled “High Rock” project in the ’burbs, where tried-and-true wood details mingle with en vogue floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase views of the manicured grounds.

103 Central St., Wellesley, 781-431-6100, jlaarchitects.com.

TRANSITIONAL INTERIOR DESIGNER
Lisa Tharp Interior Architecture + Design

The first rule in Lisa Tharp’s designer playbook? “Respect or enhance the architecture,” she told us in 2018. So it’s no surprise then that the Boston-based interiors whiz thrives in history-sensitive settings—ideal outlets for Tharp’s old-meets-new style, as she showed in the 19th-century Greek Revival home she revamped for a local family of four. After carefully choosing which architectural details to modify (the hardwood floors) and which to preserve (the marble fireplaces), Tharp set about enlivening the rest of the house with a refreshing white palette and a modern mix of custom furniture—most of which the Boston College alum designed herself.

125 Newbury St., Boston, 617-341-9900, lisatharp.com.

Lisa Tharp. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

WINNER SPOTLIGHT

Name/Title: Lisa Tharp/Principal
Company: Lisa Tharp Interior Architecture + Design
Years in the Industry: 8

Describe your aesthetic or design approach in three words.
Streamlined, curated, luxe.

Who are some of your favorite local collaborators?
Our talented builder partners, including FBN Construction and Carpenter & MacNeille. They make all the difference when projects involve construction. We also enjoy collaborating with our Newbury Street neighbors. We curate art from galleries such as Gallery Naga, Childs Gallery, and Galerie d’Orsay, as well as design bespoke rugs with the Rug Company.

What’s trending in your industry right now?
The anti-trend. It’s not about the newest; it’s about the most thoughtful. Clean lines, supreme comfort, and an effortless sophistication are timeless priorities. More than ever, our busy clients crave spaces that support relaxation and shared memory-making without compromising elegance. Thankfully, most clients are open to, or are even prioritizing, design strategies that sustain their
own well-being and that of the planet.

The Builders

CUSTOM HOME/DESIGN BUILD, BOSTON
Hampden Design+Construction

A house is simply not a home unless Hampden Design+Construction had something to do with it. Led by principal David Cohen, the Newton-based firm concentrates almost exclusively on residential projects, designing and building renovations, additions, and fully custom homes around Greater Boston. At the heart of Hampden’s portfolio? A mastery of materials, from sun-filled rooms with large swaths of windows to houses where rich woods steal the show both inside and out. Designing a custom home is a feat the company doesn’t take on lightly, either, tackling just one or two such projects a year with laser-like focus—making each of their homes a true rare gem.

617-969-1112, hampdendesign.com.

Left to right: site supervisor Mark Pellegrini and Robert MacNeille. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

CUSTOM HOME/DESIGN BUILD, NORTH
Carpenter & MacNeille

Starting from scratch is what Carpenter & MacNeille does best. In fact, that’s why the Essex-based firm frequently appears in these pages: It produces gorgeous, wholly original designs. Founded in the late ’90s by architect Robert MacNeille and the late builder Terry Carpenter, the firm has since established itself as a regional go-to for its craftsmanship. You need only to flip back to the Gloucester home featured in our Fall 2019 issue to appreciate it; dreamed up by senior architect Michael Gray, the newly built abode—complete with a striking glass curtain wall, plus custom furnishings constructed in Carpenter & MacNeille’s woodworking shop—seamlessly integrates with its waterfront surroundings. Does that qualify the team for yet another Best Of nod? We’re arguing “yes.”

106 Western Ave., Essex, 978-768-7900, carpentermacneille.com.

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

Left to right: Robert MacNeille and site supervisor Mark Pellegrini. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

WINNER SPOTLIGHT

Name/Title: Robert MacNeille/Design Principal and President
Company: Carpenter & MacNeille
Years in the Industry: 36+

How did you first discover your passion for design?
Mostly, growing up in a historical home with a massive post-and-beam barn out back. Spending time in those structures made a strong impression on me during my childhood in rural Connecticut.

Who are some of your design heroes?
As a firm, we’re often inspired by the origins of the homes we work on, [some of which trace back] to great Gilded Age masters who built in the New England coastal communities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Peabody & Stearns, Stanford White, Guy Lowell, and many more).

What makes our local design community special?
The wide range in architectural styles, the raw natural beauty of our region, and the diverse interests and needs of our clientele provide an endless font of inspiration for new and exciting projects. No two projects, clients, or sites are ever the same.

CUSTOM HOME/DESIGN BUILD, SOUTH
Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders

Building from the ground up can be intimidating: Why agonize over blueprints, floor plans, and material selections when you can leave all that to Polhemus Savery DaSilva? The East Harwich–based firm’s designers, builders, and craftspeople have had their hands in harborside retreats, rustic farmhouses, beach escapes, and luxe local resorts, which means they’ve pretty much seen—and done—it all. Consider the ocean-themed bedroom they devised for a sprawling waterfront house on the Cape: A prime example of the team’s creativity and workmanship, the white-walled space holds a pair of ship ladders and a tugboat-inspired wall carving.

157 Rte. 137, East Harwich, 508-945-4500, psdab.com.

CUSTOME HOME DESIGN/BUILD, WEST
Cutting Edge Homes

Finance and economics may seem like an unlikely background for the president of a design-build firm, but that hasn’t slowed down Sean Cutting of Cutting Edge Homes. He and his team boast a diverse portfolio of custom-home craftsmanship, but their expertise lies in blending the old with the new. Take the 1879 Victorian they revamped in Wellesley, where exposed-wood beams and wide-plank flooring complement Neolith countertops and whitewashed walls. There’s also the modern kitchen the firm forged inside a nearly 200-year-old Lincoln manse, which seamlessly merges new cedar shingles with original stone walls. And Cutting Edge’s community service record shines just as brightly as its designs: For every project the team completes, they donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities, including Habitat for Humanity. Talk about building a better home.

100 Waverly St., Ashland, 508-435-1280, thinkcuttingedge.com.

HIGH-END REMODELING, BOSTON
Kevin Cradock Builders

Take a peek at Kevin Cradock Builders’ Instagram posts, and you’ll notice something a little different about the photos: The team not only shares images of their shiny finished projects, but (unlike many other industry ’Grammers) plenty of work-in-progress shots, too. It’s those glimpses behind the scenes—filled with exposed joists, visible PVC pipes, and bare drywall—that reveal their unadulterated love for the process of renovating a home. Led by Kevin Cradock, a former finish carpenter who also specializes in custom cabinetry and furniture, the Boston firm’s skilled project managers, builders, and millworkers pour their passion into all manner of city spaces, whether it’s a classic Back Bay abode with ornate wainscoting or an airy Victorian with rich woodwork in Cradock’s native Jamaica Plain.

119 Business St., Boston, 617-524-2405, cradockbuilders.com.

HIGH-END REMODELING, NORTH
Groom Construction

Don’t get us wrong, we love New England’s historical architecture. The bay windows? The sun porches? The gabled roofs? Swoon. But what if those features require a little (or a lot of) updating to bring them into this century? Cue Groom Construction. This Salem-based, brother-owned company has been reworking the region’s homes for the past 40 years, bolstered by a repertoire that holds everything from mahogany-paneled studies all the way to personal spas and smart-home integration. With a workforce that’s almost 200 strong, odds are good that a Groom staffer can craft whatever you have in mind. Or, at the very least, build you a mean indoor sauna.

96 Swampscott Rd., Salem, 781-592-3135, groomco.com.

HIGH-END REMODELING, SOUTH
Cataldo Custom Builders

Tough winters, short timelines, and unexpected mishaps are no match for Cataldo Custom Builders, which delivers quality results to every new build and renovation it tackles. Led by owner Ralph Cataldo, an industry vet backed by more than three decades in the biz, the team of experts rejiggers floor plans and creates additions that seamlessly blend with their surroundings. And the firm’s craftsmanship is flawless: It’s hard not to drool over Cataldo’s sun-soaked family rooms, two-story libraries, and secret hideaways tucked behind custom shelving. Even the kiddos will be impressed—show them the indoor sports court the team built for a Buzzards Bay home, and they’ll be begging for one in no time.

172 E. Falmouth Highway, East Falmouth, 508-548-1133, cataldobuilders.com.

HIGH-END REMODELING, WEST
Concept Building

What keeps clients coming back to Concept Building? The firm credits its strong team of project managers, as well as its network of skilled architects and craftspeople. And just look to Concept’s work for proof of their accomplishments—from a reconfigured kitchen with a new 10-foot, two-tier island to a three-car garage that doubles as a hangout, the Waltham-based company fashions spaces uniquely suited to the needs of modern life. Plus, only true professionals can pull off a full-home renovation and a front-entry addition while the homeowners are still living in the house. If that’s not a home-building success story, we don’t know what is.

781-703-5970, conceptbuildinginc.com.

LANDSCAPE DESIGN/BUILD, BOSTON
Jean Brooks Landscapes

If you’ve got your own private outdoor space in the middle of this urban jungle, you’re already one of the lucky ones. But if it’s been dreamed up, constructed, and maintained by the team at Jean Brooks Landscapes? Consider yourself truly blessed. For nearly 30 years, this group of designers, builders, and gardeners (with varied backgrounds ranging from art history to mechanical engineering to green architecture) has masterminded lush, artful landscapes that make the most of their clients’ natural surroundings. Should the job call for a Back Bay roof deck with spots for growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs, or a Cambridge Queen Anne–style home and yard made beautiful with climbing wisteria and a variety of trees, the firm’s gorgeous green spaces are hardly garden-variety.

255 Commandants Way, Chelsea, 617-354-0643, jeanbrookslandscapes.com.

LANDSCAPE DESIGN/BUILD, NORTH
Zen Associates

In Zen Associates’ case, the company’s name is right on the nose—or should we say the chakra? This Woburn firm’s designs positively ooze serenity, whether through lush rooftop terraces or pool-and-pavilion-blessed backyards. It’s probably because Zen’s 40-plus craftspeople strive for balance in their processes and products: The team’s projects blend art with science, indoor with outdoor, natural with manmade, and reclaimed with new to effortlessly beautiful ends. Scroll through the company’s portfolio, and you’ll see what we mean; from a fire feature in Wellfleet to a geometric cedar-and-bamboo fence in Cambridge, Zen projects are remarkable in their complex simplicity.

10 Micro Dr., Woburn, 800-834-6654, zenassociates.com.

LANDSCAPE DESIGN/BUILD, SOUTH
The Gardeners

The Gardeners are on a mission to get you outside. And with one look at their shapely pools boasting cascading waterfalls and winding water slides, we’re sure they’ll succeed. The family-run business has been transforming drab yards into lively outdoor escapes across the South Shore for more than 60 years. The Gardeners reshape lawns with lush florals and trees, elevate entertaining areas via outdoor kitchens and wet bars, and install fire features and hot tubs (controlled by phone) to keep you outside in the colder months. Oh, and did we mention the firm’s maintenance team will remove the snow that’s blocking your way to the Jacuzzi during the colder months? Suddenly, New England winters don’t seem so dreary.

6 Main St., Kingston, 781-934-6430, thegardenerslandscape.com.

Scot Indermuehle. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

LANDSCAPE DESIGN/BUILD, WEST
Sudbury Design Group

Your backyard should be a sanctuary, a private escape to enjoy nature and your surroundings—and maybe a glass of chard while cozied up in front of an outdoor stone fireplace, too. Whatever your oasis entails, Sudbury Design Group has six decades of experience in creating outdoor spaces you’ll never want to leave. Armed with plans from the firm’s forward-thinking landscape architects and designers, Sudbury’s masonry contractors can tackle custom terraces and modern water features, while the group’s green thumbs add life with flora including bamboo and perennial beds. But the company’s job doesn’t end there. The estate care team offers services from disease control to seasonal plantings, so you can enjoy your view all year long.

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

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

WINNER SPOTLIGHT

Name/Title: Scot Indermuehle/Senior Associate
Company: Sudbury Design Group
Years in the Industry: 35

Describe your aesthetic or design approach in three words.
Linear, loose, livable.

What’s the best piece of design or professional advice you’ve ever received?
Design with focus, build with flexibility, and put the pencil down at the end of the day.

What’s trending in your industry right now?
Social media has exposed clients to designs and materials from everywhere in the world. While using local, natural building products is always preferable, manufactured products, both domestic and abroad, are increasingly being marketed by vendors and sought after by clients. Already an established trend for interiors, the move to integrate inside design with outside design using the same manufactured materials will continue, too.

The Makers

ARCHITECTURAL METALWORKER
Concentric Fabrication

Metalworking may be one of the world’s most ancient trades, but its relevance to today’s building industry remains as important as ever. Just ask Rob Lorenson and Derek Riley. Since opening the doors to their 5,500-square-foot, South Coast–based workshop in 2012, the in-demand craftsmen have been called upon to create their stunning (and stylistically diverse) railings, staircases, fireplace surrounds, and doors for homes throughout the region. Their handmade pieces even include custom sculptures and furniture, like a live-edge ash table finished with curved steel legs. While Lorenson and Riley’s creativity knows no bounds, we’re equally dazzled by their customer service: Not only will the pair and their small-but-mighty team oversee all aspects of your product’s creation, they’ll make sure they’re on-site to install it for you, too.

179 Riverside Ave., Somerset, 508-672-4098, concentricfab.com.

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

CERAMICIST
Jill Rosenwald

We guarantee that Jill Rosenwald’s colorful wares have played a starring role in a dinner party near you. When placed on a table, the native New Yorker’s super-fun designs, which grace everything from “Peony” vases to cocktail trays, instantly conjure a cheerful elegance. (We dare you not to feel fancy scooping mushroom risotto from a hand-painted “West Palm” bowl, inspired by wind-swept trees.) Swing by Rosenwald’s Boston studio, where her team of artisans throws, glazes, and gilts each made-to-order masterpiece just blocks from Fort Point Channel. Should you grab a dish or two for your own collection, get ready to start planning your next big bash—these beauts deserve an occasion.

369 Congress St., Boston, 617-422-0787, jillrosenwald.com.

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

Jill Rosenwald. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

WINNER SPOTLIGHT

Name/Title: Jill Rosenwald/Designer and Maker
Company: Jill Rosenwald
Years in the Industry: 23

Describe your aesthetic or design approach in three words.
Why just three words? If I have to: elegant, confident, and colorful. I will probably change my mind tomorrow.

What makes our local design community special and unique?
Someone recently mentioned that she believed that Boston was a great [place] (for a woman) to launch a new design brand because of the immense community support and the spirit of the city. I would have to agree that Boston is a place where people want to see you succeed because when you do, they are a true
and real part of that success.

Where do you shop for pieces for your own home?
I love shopping in the South End at Hudson Interior Designs, Artefact, and Lekker Home. You know you are going to be inspired when you go into those shops! I also just went up to the outdoor market in Rowley, and I found great rugs, tables, and bar stools. I also trade with other designers and you will find
their work woven throughout my home.

John Carlton. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

CUSTOM DOOR MAKER
Historic Door

Stroll through Beacon Hill, Charlestown, or the Back Bay, and there’s a good chance you’ll spot some of John Carlton’s work. Since founding Historic Door in 2005, the former preservation carpenter and furniture maker has devoted his career to designing and restoring some of the city’s most coveted entryways. Take the antique door Carlton replicated for a building on Comm. Ave., complete with intricate carvings and turnings, as well as floral-motif blacksmith work. The craftsman spends as long as several months on each project, with the added challenge of sourcing high-quality hardwoods prevalent in the 19th century, such as American black walnut and quarter-sawn white oak. Yet his noble cause makes the laborious process worthwhile: “[I’m] preserving the architectural history of the city, one doorway at a time,” he says.

31 Newton St., Brighton, 617-308-6011, historicdoor.com.

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

WINNER SPOTLIGHT

Name/Title: John Carlton/Owner
Company: Historic Door
Years in the Industry:34

Describe your aesthetic or design approach in three words.
Honor the past.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
Always strive to be the best.

Who are some of your favorite local collaborators?
E.R. Butler & Co. on Charles Street is an extraordinary company and resource. The owner, Rhett Butler, manufactures historical reproduction hardware of all types, including pieces that were originally made in 19th-century Boston. Eric Mauro and Ken Marshall are [other favorites]. Eric is an artist and an extraordinary craftsman [who offers] stained- and leaded-glass restoration as well as new work, and Ken is the preeminent painter in Boston specializing in exterior doors.

Where do you shop for pieces for your own home?
Antique shops. I do most of my collecting while traveling.

CUSTOM FURNITURE MAKER
Infusion Furniture

A stint in the Peace Corps inspired Quentin Kelley’s career switch from engineering to woodworking. While building latrines and water systems in the Dominican Republic, Kelley also constructed some furniture, and, well, his fate was sealed. Now, the Infusion Furniture founder’s sleek creations dot properties all over the region: There’s the walnut-and-laminate bench in a Dorchester apartment lobby, the light-wood conference table in a North End marketing agency, plus dozens of cabinets and consoles in local residences. If you’re looking for a quick dose of Kelley’s modern aesthetic, consider one of his evergreen designs, such as the quirky “Trio” stool in neon yellow. But if you’re hoping to go fully bespoke, Infusion is just as ready to make that happen: Reach out and let Kelley and his team work with you to make whatever it is you’re envisioning (a combo wine fridge and dry bar, perhaps?) a reality.

15 Channel Center St., Boston, 617-223-1181, infusionfurniture.com.

DECORATIVE GLASSWORKER
Jim Anderson Stained Glass

Whether it’s adorning trendy restaurants in the Back Bay or stately brownstones on Beacon Hill, Jim Anderson’s elaborate stained-glass work is just about everywhere—and for good reason. Trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, the sought-after artist has been churning out painted, etched, and engraved designs for 40-plus years, working with clients from the South End to South Africa on detailed pieces for doors, windows, skylights, and more. Anderson even lends his talents to repairs and restorations, showing his mastery of light and color in cutting-edge homes and historical buildings alike.

548 Tremont St., Boston, 617-357-5166, jimandersonstainedglass.com.

Pauline Curtiss. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

DECORATIVE PAINTER
Patina

When it comes to painter Pauline Curtiss’s custom creations, more is most certainly more. That’s because the artist turns every space she touches into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, drawing on nearly 20 years of experience (and a BFA from RISD) to bring just about any vision to life. Created with help from a small all-female staff, Curtiss’s long list of successes runs the gamut from wood floors made new with colorful kaleidoscopic patterns to a trompe l’oeil–inspired wall mural in a children’s bathroom. While her immaculate work may look like a luxury wallcovering from afar, it’s the handmade characteristics you can see up close that make it truly exceptional.

617-653-3119, patina-designs.com.

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

WINNER SPOTLIGHT

Name/Title: Pauline Curtiss/Principal
Company: Patina
Years in the Industry:19

How did you first discover your passion for design?
I’ve been serious about making art practically since I could walk. After graduating from RISD, I [spent] one year creating websites for fabric companies and working with designers. That was it for me! I quit and immediately my obsession with designing patterns and transforming interior spaces began. My two worlds of fine-art painting and beautiful interiors combined [into making] permanent art installations in people’s homes.

Who are your design heroes?
Cy Twombly, Christian Lacroix, Nick Cave, Timorous Beasties, and Mark Bradford. They take common materials and transform them into something absolutely magical—things wild and untamed.

What makes our local design community special?
Boston has a rich history of classical elements, [but also has] a modern edge. The juxtaposition of these two elements is my absolute favorite. [It’s] modern with a soul.

KITCHEN CABINETRY MAKER
Bespoke of Winchester

It’s the little details that determine the difference between good kitchen cabinets and great ones—and no one understands that better than the folks at this Winchester firm. Their custom creations—each meticulously fabricated and finished with formaldehyde-free materials in their 10,000-square-foot Revere workshop—go above and beyond standard cabinet fare, offering elevated twists on contemporary and classic styles with luxe hardware, gleaming grilles, and delicate glass panels. And if that hasn’t convinced you to give the team a call, maybe this will: Bespoke of Winchester hands over its surplus building materials to a nonprofit home-improvement store, so (in addition to their legions of satisfied clients) you know the firm cares about its community, too.

25 Thompson St., Winchester, 781-570-2210, bespokeofwinchester.com.

MILLWORKER
EA Custom Millwork

Born to do it. That’s the phrase that springs to mind when praising craftsman Everett Andrews, who has been working with his hands his entire life. Exposed to the art of creating things at an early age—courtesy of his architect grandfather, who enlisted a young Andrews in a gristmill-building project—the seasoned pro has just about done it all: home remodeling, furniture and cabinet making, and (of course) millworking. If you ask us, the latter is where his talents truly shine. Based in Worcester County but lending his expertise to projects throughout Greater Boston, the EA Custom Millwork owner counts an inviting home library with rich cherry paneling and beams among his many triumphs.

508-328-0693, eacustommillwork.com.

STONE FABRICATOR
United Marble Fabricators

Who you partner with says a lot about your business—and United Marble Fabricators has teamed up with some of the finest design pros (read: former Best of Boston Home winners) around. It all started in 1987, when the team opened a small stone-and-tile shop in Somerville. As the business grew and its services diversified, the now-Watertown-based company made a name for itself in the local residential market, winning over would-be clients with its globally sourced slabs of marble, granite, limestone, and more, to say nothing of its reliable design, fabrication, installation, and maintenance services. With more than 650 in-stock options for counters, walls, floors, and backsplashes, it’s no wonder United Marble Fabricators is the industry go-to.

10 Munroe Ave., Watertown, 617-926-6226, unitedmarble.com.

TEXTILE DESIGNER
Mally Skok Design

Nothing could be more boring than having a home filled with fabrics and wallcoverings that look like everyone else’s. That’s where Mally Skok comes in. Since 2009, the interior designer turned textile guru has been pushing aside Boston’s toned-down aesthetic for “design that doesn’t play by the rule book,” she says, hand-painting patterns inspired by her adventures to far-flung locales such as India, Istanbul, and Africa. The result? Bold textiles that add a global flair to pillows, chairs, and walls, as well as more subdued schemes, such as “Botswana Trees,” for those afraid of fuchsias and yellows.

23 S. Great Rd., Lincoln, 781-259-4090, mallyskokdesign.com.

Swans Island Company makes plush pillows, stylish wraps and organic baby blankets. / Courtesy photo

Swans Island Company makes plush pillows, stylish wraps and organic baby blankets. / Courtesy photo

Swans Island Company makes plush pillows, stylish wraps and organic baby blankets. / Courtesy photo

TEXTILE MAKER
Swans Island Company

This Maine-based outfit knows a thing or two about crafting handwoven textiles. Spinning wool since 1992, their classically trained artisans load up old-school machinery with sustainably sourced fibers—most of which come from New England farms—to produce plush pillows, stylish wraps, organic baby blankets, and more. Their designs are simple, but thanks to their rich colors (courtesy of hand-dyed yarn) and flawless stitching, there’s no need for distracting patterns or flashy embellishments. And when you’ve snuggled up with the company’s signature “Heritage” throw one too many times, wearing out its plush blend of silk threads and Corriedale wool, Swans Island will be there to repair it.

231 Atlantic Highway, Northport, ME, 207-338-9691, swansislandcompany.com.

UPHOLSTERER
Custom Upholstery Services

Let’s face it: Entrusting a stranger with your favorite pieces—the velvet settee that’s been in your family for ages, perhaps, or the classic Eames chair you proudly bought for your first home—can be downright terrifying. Thankfully, the team at this Framingham shop wields the know-how to ease your separation anxiety, bringing years of experience to every headboard, sofa, bench, and ottoman they touch. Comfortable upholstering, repairing, and restoring both contemporary and vintage pieces, the group also offers frame-building services: a convenient option for those looking to create furniture from scratch.

584 Waverly St., Framingham, 508-309-4962, customupholsteryusa.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.