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Boston Design Spotlight: Susan Shulman Interiors

Our November Boston Design spotlight goes to Susan Shulman of Susan Shulman Interiors. Susan has been helping clients across Boston for over 25+ years. Her work has been featured in The Boston Design Guide, New England Home Magazine, Design Boston, the Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and many other publications. As an oil painter, Susan has the ability to mix unexpected color combinations for her interior design work directly from her experience in the artist’s studio. Today, we are lucky to have Susan answering the top 3 design questions we hear from our clients who have just rented or bought in the city:

Many of our clients come to us to find the perfect rental. What is the best way for renters to make a space their own without having to change the footprint of the home?

The best way for a renter to make a space their own is to add meaningful art, fresh flowers and something from their past. This could be a special vase, a book they’ve loved or a special gift from a friend or family member. Playing music in the background also creates a context that brings comfort and familiarity.

Beyond white paint and lamps, what are your suggestions to lighten up a dark space?

To lighten up a dark space, I’d hang a mirror or two in key places. Try hanging one opposite a window, preferably with a view or opposite a light fixture so the light bounces off as a reflection.  Light colored furnishings such as carpet and fabrics will also seemingly reflect light. Dark colors do the opposite by absorbing light. This will make a dark room appear even darker. Lighting corners is also effective rather than using just task lighting.

Many of the properties we have sold in the last year are open concept homes. How do you help your clients created defined livings spaces (ie kitchen, living, and dining areas) in an open concept home?

This last question is one that I am currently working on to separate an open space floor plan for a house on the Atlantic.  In order to define three spaces I am using a different carpet in each space. The living room will have a rectangular carpet that sits under the sofa, chairs and coffee table.  Helping to define the center of the room is a wall height fireplace and bookshelf arrangement. This further sets it off from the other two areas. Here we are positioning four of the same chairs in a circular arrangement with a round table in the center. A coordinated rug will anchor this seating arrangement. The third space is the dining room, which will have a different complimentary carpet to define this area. All of the furnishings are open to its neighboring groups making this ideal for large gatherings of family and friends. 

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    Local Builders and General Contractors

    Clients often ask us for the names of reputable, high-end builders/ general contractors. While we are not able to offer specific recommendations, the following is a sampling of firms who we know regularly perform renovations in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End.

     

    Kennedy Design Build

    http://www.kennedybuild.com/

    Kennedy Design Build is a premier general contracting company specializing in custom residences in and around Boston with a concentration in Boston’s South End. We strive to deliver a product that not only reflects our commitment to unparalleled craftsmanship but leaves a lasting impression on those who experience it. Unequaled quality and customer satisfaction will continue to define Kennedy Design Build as a leader in Custom Residential Construction.

     

    M.F. Reynolds

    https://www.mfreynolds.com/

    M. F. Reynolds, Inc. specializes in providing professional construction services to residential and institutional clients in Boston and the surrounding areas.  Since 1890, this century old company is committed to the timely execution of high quality building and remodeling projects, regardless of their complexity or size. For every project, from kitchen remodeling, historic preservation, family room additions to new home construction, M. F. Reynolds holds to its sterling reputation of skilled craftsmanship, responsiveness, transparency, subcontractor loyalty, and ultimately client satisfaction.

     

    Payne Bouchier

    https://www.paynebouchier.com/

    Payne | Bouchier grew out of a passion for New England’s historic buildings and a commitment to high standards. We have been building, restoring and renovating fine homes throughout New England since 1981. After Hampshire College, Steve Payne had mastered the minutiae of millwork and cabinetry, and acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of the history and methodologies of woodworking. Tom Payne brought a strong sense of aesthetic and a keen eye for details, developed from his studies at Boston University’s Program in Artisanry. Oliver Bouchier was born in England where he cultivated his affinity for fine design and the traditions of British craftsmanship. Steve and Tom Payne and Oliver Bouchier pooled their collective talents to build Payne | Bouchier into the strong and diverse company that it is today. Working in the art of historic renovation, yet well versed in the forms, systems and materials of new construction, we can maneuver effortlessly between traditional and modern builds. If the design imperative is a historically authentic restoration or sleek modernity, we will bring our rigorous project management and skilled craftsmanship to bear. Whether it is making a window sash with historically accurate muntin profiles or doing a custom lay-up of exotic veneer, the outcome is beautiful and the process is enjoyable.

     

    Woodmeister

    https://www.woodmeister.com/

    When you choose Woodmeister, you get much. More than a seasoned construction professional.  Woodmeister is your personal advocate whose passion for excellence delivers an exceptional experience driven by unparalleled customer service.  Quite simply, we love what we do and it shows in the craftsmanship, meticulous attention to every detail and our commitment to delivering customer delight.

     

    Sea-Dar

    http://seadar.com/

    Sea-Dar is committed to developing trusting relationships with our clients that last long after the project has been completed. For 25 years, Sea-Dar Construction has been building a wide range of construction projects: from luxury urban residences and fine suburban custom homes, to large, technically complex institutional and commercial structures, each is managed with the same commitment to quality and customer service.  Whether it is new construction, conversion, renovation, or restoration, we consistently exceed the expectations of our clients.

     

    C.H. Newton Builders

    http://www.chnewton.com/

    Much like each home we build, C.H. Newton Builders began with a vision. In the summer of 1958, C.H. Newton bought thirty acres of land around a pond in Falmouth, Massachusetts with the intent of building an enclave of high quality custom homes. Over fifty years and four generations later, his vision continues with our family-owned, custom home building company with locations across New England. Our “C.H. Newton extended family” comprises over 40 full-time, highly respected industry professionals as well as our private network of clients from over five decades of business. Expertise, customization and first class quality are all at the core of every specialized project we complete. To us, a house is more than a home—it’s an heirloom.

     

    Sleeping Dog Properties

    https://www.sleepingdogproperties.com/

    Sleeping Dog Properties, Inc. has delivered custom residential construction services to discerning clientele in Boston and surrounding areas for over 20 years. Whether we’re completely rebuilding, remodeling or renovating, we can create a home to your exact specifications. Our team has the knowledge, skill, and care to bring your vision to life.

     

    International Builders

    https://www.intbuilders.com/

    A high-end boutique firm, International Builders, Inc. consists exclusively of hardworking, creative, and thoughtful professionals who share an unyielding determination to help you achieve your goals. As masters of commercial and residential projects, we bring our passion for flawless execution to every single project, large and small.

     

    The Holland Companies

    http://www.thehollandcompanies.com/

    With more than 100 years of combined experience in the design, engineering and construction industries, Holland Development and M. Holland & Sons Construction have managed hundreds residential and commercial projects. It offers a unique combination of services to buyers by providing historical designs, sound re-engineering and quality construction n highly sought-after and difficult building environments like the Back Bay, South End and Beacon Hill. Holland Development was founded in response to the market need for high-quality residential construction in affluent urban Boston areas. It is a direct offshoot of M. Holland & Sons Construction, Inc., a 40-year old family-owned-and-managed  general construction company and its resident design and engineering professionals. Its mission is to provide high-quality, historically designed residential housing.

     

    Catamount

    http://catamountbuilders.com/

    Catamount Builders has been crafting homes since 2004. With a diverse and specialized team, we can build your custom home from foundation to finish or simply finish the exterior remodel you haven’t had time to do. Our keen eye and personal touch will give you a different construction experience. We are not just construction workers — we are builders, we are crafters. Your project will be approached and met with exceptional care and unmatched quality. At Catamount, you and your home are our number one priority.

     

    DiPierro Construction

    http://www.dipierroinc.com/our-team/

    With over 30 years of experience, DiPierro Construction services all aspects of residential and light commercial construction and development in Boston proper and surrounding areas.  We strive to offer our clients a wide range of services making it easier to manager all aspect of the job no matter its scope or size.

     

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      Why People Buy Garden Level Homes

      Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the South End are three of Boston’s most iconic neighborhoods and have become increasingly desirable places for residents to call home. The juxtaposition of the quiet residential streets with the bustling activity on the nearby downtown streets makes these neighborhoods unique, charming and inviting.

      Historic brownstone homes are ubiquitous throughout these neighborhoods in the form of condominiums, single family, and multi-family dwellings.  Most of these brownstones were built back in the early 1900’s, originally constructed as single family or multi-family homes. The concept of the Condominium was conceived in the 1960s and has been growing in popularity ever since.

      During the conversion of a single or multi family brownstone into condominiums, multiple units are designed and developed, one on top of the other, creating some combination of lower level, middle and upper level units. The lower level unit is commonly referred to as the garden level unit. The middle level(s) is often referred to as the parlor level and the upper most level unit is most commonly referred to as the penthouse.  While condos can be designed spanning any number of floors, we often see floor-through units, which are all on one floor; duplexes, which span two floors; and triplexes which consist of three levels. While every individual has his/her own idea of what makes a home “perfect”, there are pros and cons of living on each different level of a brownstone condo building. 

      Below, we will explore some of the advantages of living in a garden level unit and offer our thoughts on how lower level units overcome the stigma of being “darker” and less desirable.

      What motivates a buyer to purchase a garden-level home?

      • Easy access from the street
      • Fewer flights of stairs
      • Often there is a separate, private entrance from the other units in the building 
      • Outdoor space tends to be slightly larger offering the opportunity for a garden/entertaining
      • Direct access to parking if a deeded spot is available behind the building
      • Units tend to be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer creating energy efficiency
      • Pricing tends to be slightly lower than comparable units on mid or upper levels because of the “stigma” that all garden level units are dark and less desirable

      Understanding the pros and cons of every unit will help you make an informed decision when exploring your options. If you’re considering a purchase, let us guide and help you find the perfect fit for you. 

      Click here to view some of our favorite garden level homes in Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End.

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        Boston Rental Process

        What to Expect in the Boston Rental Market

        The rental market in Boston is competitive and peak rental season is in full swing! We thought it would be a good time to provide an overview of the rental process from the search to lease signing.  

         

        Identifying Needs, Wants and Preferences

        Before embarking on a rental search, there are a couple questions that we always ask our clients to help us guide them through the search and process.  

        • # of bedrooms and bathrooms?
        • How many people will be living in the unit?
        • Do you have any pets? If so, what is the breed?
        • Neighborhood preferences?
        • Do you need to be close to public transportation?
        • Move in date?
        • Desired length of lease?
        • Is central A/C a must have or need to have?
        • Is in-unit laundry a must have or need to have?
        • Do you need parking?
        • Price range?

        All of these questions help to narrow down the search before we go out on property tours. Once we have the criteria above, we are able create a list of rental options tailored to your specific needs to send over for review. Additionally, we will set you up to receive alerts the moment a new rental hits the market that meets your criteria.

         

        Property Tours

        We proactively keep you updated on new rentals as well as for any off-market or pre-market opportunities. Good rentals rent quickly so we always encourage you to reach out as soon as possible once you come across unit of interest. If any given unit currently has a tenant in it, 24-hour notice for a showing may be required. Below are some questions to ask while you are on your tour:

        • What utilities, if any, are included in rent?
        • What are the move-in costs?
        • Is any of the furniture staying in the unit?
        • Will the unit be professionally cleaned before move-in?
        • Where does the trash go?

         

        Application Process

        Once we identify the home for you, we start the application process.  In addition to the application which we would provide you, applicants are typically asked to provide the following:

        • Proof of Employment- [usually in the form of an offer letter or last two pay stubs]
        • Proof of funds if proof of employment is not an option
        • Credit Report
        • Copy of Photo ID

        As soon as we have these items in hand, we are able to submit the application to the listing agent or the landlord.  Once the landlord reviews and accepts an offer, the lease is drafted up and signed by both parties. Upon lease signing, first month’s rent, security deposit and a broker fee equal to one month of rent will be due. Last month’s rent may be required as well. Your security deposit, which is typically equal to one month of rent, is kept in an interest-bearing account, separate from the other funds. Once the tenancy ends, the landlord performs a walk through and returns the security deposit, within 30 days, to you should the unit be in the same condition.

         

        Move-in

        On move-in day or prior we facilitate the key hand-off for you. Depending on the building, there may be move-in rules and regulations, so we make sure you are aware of those.  If you are planning on having a large moving truck, you should consider applying for a street moving permit sign to reserve space in front of the building for the move-in. Signs are required to be put up 48 hours in advance of a move and can be attained at City Hall.

        To reserve a parking spot for your moving truck visit: https://www.boston.gov/reserve-parking-spot-your-moving-truck

        Looking for a mover? Visit www.smallhaulmover.com

         

        Post Move-In

        Once you get settled, you can apply for your resident parking permit.  You can apply online for your parking permit here: https://www.boston.gov/departments/parking-clerk/how-get-resident-parking-permit

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          Dog Parks in Boston

          They say dogs are a man’s/woman’s best friend and we couldn’t agree more.  Many of our clients that we work with put pet friendly living and proximity to dog friendly parks at the top of their must have list when searching for a home.  We understand that importance and have compiled a list of those parks in Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End and South Boston where you will find other furry 4-legged friends.

           

          Beacon Hill

          Boston Common

          139 Tremont Street

          The Esplanade

          Storrow Drive

           

          Back Bay

          Carlton Court Dog Park

          Southwest Corridor Path

          Comm Avenue Mall

          Commonwealth Avenue

           

           

          South End

          Peters Park

          1277 Washington Street

          Blackstone Square

          1535 Washington Street

          Titus Sparrow Park

          200 West Newton Street

           

          South Boston

          South Boston Bark Park

          1280 Columbia Road

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            Monthly Parking Garages/Lots in and Around the South End

            Owning a parking spot in the South End is a luxury. If you are thinking about moving to the South End, you may find a condo that checks all of your boxes except a deeded parking spot. All residents and tenants in the neighborhood are granted street parking permits which may serve as a viable solution.

            We often ask our buyers whether a deeded parking spot is a must have or “nice-to have” feature in their desired home. If a parking spot is a necessity, we then find out if a parking “solution” nearby, which may be a public or privately-owned garage spot or outdoor space for a monthly rental rate would suffice. We put together the list below of parking “solutions” to answer the frequently asked questions about parking options in and around the South End.

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