Best of Boston Home 2021
One silver lining of spending more time at home? Dozens of new renovation ideas. Start your next remodeling adventure with our 2021 guide to the region’s top designers, builders, makers, and shops, specially curated to help you transform the spaces that matter most.
High-End Remodeling, South
Randy Milburn’s background in church restoration combined with Jim Burke’s degree in mechanical engineering shines brightly in Cambridgeport Construction’s stellar portfolio of renovations. Remodels, which include a cleverly transformed Georgian-style house in Brookline with a cedar-clad dry sauna, exude unfussy elegance and gorgeous craftsmanship inside and out. The icing on the cake? Architects confide that Cambridgeport Construction’s operation is leaner than that of flashier firms, resulting in less cumbersome paperwork for homeowners and better value all around.
High-End Remodeling, Boston
These revered builders deliver the complete package. Bob Ernst, who has served as the Boston company’s president since 1995, has been known to personally walk potential clients through every line item of a bid. Plus, dedicated onsite foremen ensure quality work (column-adorned bathrooms, gleaming custom kitchens, party-ready wraparound decks) and maximum efficiency throughout the renovation process. Designers value FBN’s collaborative approach, while homeowners appreciate the weekly meetings that keep them abreast of budgets and timelines. One designer noted, “I never walked on site to find a surprise.” We believe it.
High-End Remodeling, North
Premier Builders’ Ken Kumph treats every job, large and small, with equal attention, and his way of doing business trickles down. Crew members are not only attentive, punctual, and respectful, but a pleasure to chat with whether you’re after a simple bathroom upgrade or a full-home renovation. Bonus: The company’s robust in-house woodshop turns out artisanal-level architectural millwork and custom cabinetry, so you can rest assured that your project’s finishing touches—from coffered ceilings to luxe built-ins—will be handled with the same care and precision.
High-End Remodeling, West
Kistler & Knapp Builders
Principals Renée West and Douglas Stevenson of Kistler & Knapp build to impress, carrying on the tradition of the 42-year-old company’s now-retired founders. Case in point: a sprawling farmhouse in Sudbury with a stone-clad exterior, vaulted ceilings, and exposed beams. And then there’s the church turned condo in the South End, complete with arched custom windows, which speak to the group’s technical expertise. There’s nothing, it seems, this well-loved firm can’t do.
For the team at Saltwoods, crafting tables, benches, and kitchen islands isn’t just about giving customers beautiful, one-of-a-kind furniture. It’s about a connection between client, craftsmen, and the planet. It starts with materials—often reclaimed oak sourced from downed trees or centuries-old deserted barns—that, as finished pieces, display the geographic coordinates of their source. The level of care and attention to detail doesn’t stop there, though: The same craftsmen who built your piece will also personally deliver it to your home.
So You Want To…Build a Mudroom
Custom Window Treatments
J&I Custom Drapes and Upholstery
There’s a reason this small workroom in Lynn, operated by a mother-daughter duo with decades of experience, is beloved by local homeowners and design pros alike. J&I’s bespoke creations include classic valances with intricate pleating, quirkier numbers with fringe, and elegant panels in brilliant patterns—all sold alongside decorative rods and essential hardware to help complete the look. Plus, not only will the team design and craft any treatment your heart (or window) desires, they’ll come to your home to install the one-of-a-kind piece, too.
For Pauline Curtiss, every facet of an interior is a canvas. She can add stenciled motifs, abstract graffiti explosions, and serene landscapes anywhere you let her (hello, two-story statement foyer). Working closely with her small team, this RISD grad turns bare floors into “rugs,” walls into rich “suede,” and wood into “tile.” She’ll even camouflage a bedside table to disappear against your bedroom wall. Extra points for her gorgeous porcelain dinnerware, adorned with delicate, hand-sketched patterns.
Overflowing with bins and never-ending displays, this family-owned, 40,000-square-foot textile emporium will leave you swooning over the possibilities. About a million yards of fabric, all bought straight from mills, run the gamut: Unique cottons, sumptuous Belgian linens, rich leathers, and delicate silks, just to name a few, all have a place here—to say nothing of the treasure trove of trims, discount fabrics, and hardware you’ll find in the shop’s large basement.
Whether you’re fired up about a wood-burning stove or would rather remote-click to set a gas model ablaze, these Norwood experts help up your flame game. Their 4,800-square-foot showroom is a creative hotbed of some 50 lit fireplace and stove displays from the likes of Mendota, HearthStone, and Pacific Energy. And service will make you feel warm and fuzzy, too: Once they convert your existing hearth with inserts or install a completely new unit, they’ll explain the safest, most efficient way to run it to last.
Apex Hardwood Floors
There’s nothing quite like the gleam of hardwood floors—and no one quite like James Du and his team to sand, refinish, repair, or install them for you. Consistently praised by clients for their professionalism, craftsmanship, and top-notch communication skills, the Revere-based crew handily works with a range of wood types and custom finishes, laying down new planks and breathing life into tired ones with equal care and attention.
If ever you were tempted to judge a book by its cover, you’d be right to do it in the case of this Southie décor shop, curated by interior designer Danielle McClure. The smorgasbord of pieces you’ll discover inside—from handwoven baskets to rattan pendant lights to tassel-adorned pillows—is just as charming as its exterior, equipped with a yellow-and-white awning and a teal front door. Swing by in person or shop online for soft Dash & Albert rugs, chic tabletop wares, and folding mango-wood stools.
Home Gym Equipment
Precision Fitness Equipment
Here’s a thing you didn’t know about Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask: He trains on cardio and strength machines from Precision Fitness Equipment, headquartered in Framingham. Why? Perhaps it’s because of the staff who guide customers (famous and not) toward the right bench, elliptical, or interactive recumbent bike from brands such as Powerblock, Matrix, and WaterRower, while sharing advice on proper use. Or maybe it’s because the team offers design consultations, transforming lackluster home gyms into inviting spaces with members-only vibes. Either way, you’re in good company.
Debsan The Decorating Store
When you have the country’s largest selection of sample books (900, for those counting), clearly you can help impart a “wow” factor to any space. And that’s exactly what owner Ben Greenberg and his team do. With intimate knowledge of designer collections, they’ve even been known to find prints for some of the area’s tough-to-style period homes. Get your feet wet with an accent wall in your powder room or cover every square inch of your home office with offerings from Thibaut, Schumacher, Waverly, and more.
Wine Cellar Contractor
Boston Wine Cellar Designs
Need a safe home for your prized Château Latour or Leeuwin? Brian Wilson has been pouring over the city’s most refined wine cellars for some 25 years. From straightforward spaces (cases below, bottles above) to more elaborate schemes with grand stone arches and tasting tables, his vino-storage solutions are magnificent. Design speaks loudly, while Wine Guardian climate systems are whisper-quiet. Cheers to enjoying your wine—not worrying about it.
So You Want to…Revamp Your Home Office
Kitchen & Bath
Clean-lined console vanities. Meticulous tilework. Freestanding soaking tubs, bathed in natural light. With equal weight placed on function and form, designer Cassia Wyner conjures sophisticated bathrooms that feel as good as they look, combining elegant fixtures and thoughtful finishes to undeniably blissful effects. Plus, her customer-service record is unparalleled. As one scroll through ample glowing reviews will attest, it’s not just Wyner’s design and problem-solving skills that make clients happy; it’s her approachability, organization, and attentiveness, as well.
Bespoke of Winchester
Between remote learning and daily Zoom calls, your kitchen is getting a lot more action than usual. Bring order to the chaos with an assist from Bespoke of Winchester. Made in Revere, their custom cabinets hide appliances and cookware, while their cantilevered shelves (equipped with integrated lighting) showcase impressive barware collections and delicate dishware. Need a pick-me-up? Ask the crew to install mood-boosting pink racks for a pop of color.
The Inspired Bath
After perusing the rain showers and touchless faucets, you’ll leave this Waltham-based showroom with a long list of kitchen-and-bath must-haves. Offering top brands such as Grohe and Kohler, the Inspired Bath provides all the essentials you’d ever dream of, as well as innovative add-ons including sparkling-water taps. Opt for the Amazon-powered smart mirror to turn down the lights via voice-command while you unwind in your new soaking tub. Alexa, more bubbles, please.
Mack Designer Hardware
This four-year-old Burlington shop may be a relative newcomer to the scene, but the staff at Mack Designer Hardware have decades of experience. The talented team can deftly walk you through their various brands (Rocky Mountain Hardware, Formani) to find the perfect style and finish for your space. With Mack’s massive selection of handles, locks, door hinges, and more, we won’t blame you for stopping by for a simple cabinet latch—and leaving with crystal pulls and a quartz doorknob.
The Granite Place
The pros at the Granite Place think of themselves as “artists”—and after working with them, you’ll agree. Their finely cut Italian marble islands will add a sleek look to your kitchen, while their Cambria quartz counters will create luxe vibes in the bathroom. And best of all, their fireplace surrounds—crafted from heat-resistant granite—will have you looking forward to winter in New England (really).
LaFauci Tile & Marble
Drive to Watertown’s “Tile Mile”—a popular stretch of shops near the Charles—and keep your foot on the gas until you reach LaFauci Tile & Marble. When you step inside the showroom, you’ll first be dazzled by the myriad marble, porcelain, and glass options (think: Moroccan-inspired cement mosaics and Terra Bella waterjet masterpieces) for your floors and walls. But you’ll be even more impressed when you confuse your own bathroom for a spa once the team installs whatever goodies you choose.
Venegas and Company
What’s the recipe for a beautifully designed kitchen? A functional layout, sleek cabinetry, gorgeous stonework, and carefully selected finishes to tie everything together. That’s how Venegas and Company achieves their stunning results, at least. Considering all of your needs (double islands, pantries, Teppanyaki cooktops), owner Donna Venegas and her team have been whipping up crowd-pleasing schemes since 2009. Among their recent successes? A revamped 19th-century space boasting blue-gray cabinets, a porcelain-clad hood to match the countertops and backsplash, and a hidden coffee bar.
Style Spotlight: Transitional
Michael D’Angelo Landscape Architecture
Trust us when we say that landscape architect Michael D’Angelo is a force of nature. Able to work in a variety of settings, the University of Rhode Island grad counts a tiered yard in Cohasset, beautifully connected to the rocky coastline, and a bamboo-laden roof top in the South End among his many fine creations. And no plan is too extravagant for D’Angelo. Need proof? Consider a forthcoming Brookline scheme, outfitted with lush plantings, a rejuvenating sauna, and a terrace for at-home yoga sessions.
Landscape Design/Build, Boston
These days, having access to a private green space is more of a luxury (or, dare we say, a necessity) than ever. That’s where Perennial Gardens comes in. In addition to designing and installing plantings and patios at sprawling estates, the firm has a particular knack for revitalizing petite urban gardens and rooftops. Equipped with an eye for color and scale, an understanding of irrigation systems and environmental conditions, and, occasionally, a crane to help out on installation day, principal Ellen Abdow and team create lush oases with luxe features such as custom outdoor kitchens.
Landscape Design/Build, North
Andover Landscape Design and Construction
Tap the pros at Andover Landscape and you’ll have it all: a garden blooming with perennials, a lap pool to keep you active, and a bluestone patio equipped with a fire pit for roasting marshmallows. Founder John Nardozza and architect Russell Stott—along with masons, arborists, and electricians—have a hand in every step of the transformation, from the first rendering drawn to the last shrub pruned. Plus, they’ll plant an herb garden so you can spice up home-cooked meals.
Landscape Design/Build, South
Everyone’s idea of outdoor heaven looks a little different. Luckily, this Westwood-based team wields the know-how to create just about any open-air hangout you can imagine, from private but roomy urban patios to colorful wildflower meadows bordering beachfront pools. But the small firm, founded by green-industry vet Jay MacMullan in 2015, doesn’t win our vote for its beautiful spaces alone; the crew’s extensive horticultural knowledge—not to mention its first-rate maintenance services—are equally divine.
Landscape Design/Build, West
A Blade of Grass
You’ve got a beautiful home, but you’re lacking the landscape to match it. It’s a tale as old as time for the pros at a Blade of Grass, who know a thing or two about solving a predicament like this one. Take, for example, a stately home in Wayland that the crew enhanced with a series of patios, surrounded by manicured greenery and flowers. There’s also the decidely Instagrammable poolside in Carlisle, complete with a sculptural pergola. We’d call those success stories.
Custom Outdoor Furniture
Janus et Cie
For four-plus decades, Janus et Cie’s creative, contemporary designs (a pod-like chaise lounge, for example) have transformed many an outdoor space. It should be no surprise then that there are very few limitations to what the Design Center standout can create beyond its collections, too. Want to take a sofa from the existing stock and change the size, fabric, and finish? Easy as pie. Plus, those with more traditional tastes can turn to the showroom for exclusive pieces by Maine-based Weatherend Estate Furniture, which uses boat-building techniques to craft custom wooden pieces.
Boston Fence & Vinyl
More than 30,000 fences in three decades. That’s the legacy you become a part of when you book these Beverly-based pros, whose wood, steel, chain-link, and vinyl beauties grace yards throughout the region. Clients praise the team for their fair prices and stellar communication, while the company’s portfolio simply speaks for itself: A casual glance reveals modern lattice-style models, post-and-rail gems worthy of any New England farmhouse, delicate metalwork for pool-equipped homes, and plenty of classic picket fences in between.
Russell’s Garden Center
We’re not surprised that a reviewer once called this horticultural epicenter a “plant collector’s absolute dream.” One of New England’s largest garden centers, the family-owned outfit doesn’t just sell plants; it lives for them (just ask one of the store’s many passionate, in-season employees). While you’re at it, check out the huge native-plant selection, as well as the array of pruners, planters, potting soil, and more from industry favorites including Wolf-Garten and Jonathan Green.
The experts at this Hingham-based firm do more than just design and install terraces and patios: They create elegant yet functional hardscapes that help set the tone—and the bar—for the rest of your home. As a full-service landscape construction and masonry company, they have you (and your walkways) covered with everything from intricate bluestone steppers to traditional brick. And their fire pits, retaining walls, and stone pool decks? Rock solid.
Ferrari Pools, Patios & Spas
Picture this: lounging in a hot tub, breathing in sweet scents from an aromatherapy diffuser, while hardworking jets deliver a neck massage. Now, head to Ferrari Pools, Patios & Spas to snag a Hydropool or La-Z-Boy spa, and customize your selection with added pillows or calming mood lighting. For those wanting to get their heart pumping, Ferrari also supplies self-cleaning swim spas to give you one killer workout (and the rubdown you’ll need after).
Style Spotlight: Contemporary
Helmed by second-generation owner Laura Hopkins, this 14,000-square-foot ode to outdoor living has been dressing up local patios and porches since it opened in 1970. In addition to luxe furnishings from brands such as Castelle and Kingsley Bate, you’ll find bird feeders and baskets, lanterns and linens, tableware and terrariums—everything you’d need to make the most of time al fresco. Pro tip: Don’t forget to ask about the store’s selection of Lava Heat Italia outdoor heaters and Oriflamme fire tables for chilly nights.
The bad news? You canceled your tropical getaway. The good news? Environmental Pools brings paradise to you with their resort-worthy creations. These Chelmsford-based experts have been designing custom in-ground pools and renovating dated swimming holes since 1988. For the adventurous, they’ll add winding waterslides, rope swings, and rock walls to their shapely gunite numbers. If your tastes run more tranquil, though, in-house design specialists are happy to whip up infinity-edge pools with built-in loungers and a swim-up bar (mudslides not included).
Rayah Power Integration
The much-loved pros at this Newton company make easy work of going green, thanks to a comprehensive roster of services that begins with a free consultation at your humble abode. Once they’ve walked you through the details (number of panels, mounting options, et al.), Rayah staffers handle all the permits and paperwork before dispatching an experienced team of installers to bring your vision to life. The best part? Service doesn’t end after the work is done; should you need maintenance on your system, Rayah’s helpful techs are just a phone call away.
Stone and Pavers
Old Station Outdoor & Landscape Supply
You’d be hard-pressed to walk away from this Norton showroom without inspiration for your next masonry project. Stocking brands such as Techo-Bloc, Belgard, and Unilock, Old Station’s inventory features natural stone veneers for dramatic exterior walls, outdoor porcelain tiles befitting the grandest terrace, and salt-resistant pavers for your driveway, among other things. And while the store caters to its fair share of local contractors with its abundant material options and installation supplies, know that ambitious DIYers—and all the questions they can muster—are more than welcome here, too.
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.