Charlie Allen Renovations, Inc.





We've all been hearing the stories of the roof collapses because of the heavy snow and we've all been worried about the snow causing damage to our homes and with more snow on the way, panic is starting to set in. Charlie Allen, founder of Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge, joined us this morning to tell us what we should be doing...
Fox 25 Morning News | January 31, 2011, Gene Lavanchy

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As in the case with many older homes, the closets in this 1870s Shingle Style house in Cambridge were sorely lacking....The bedroom was in dire need of a substantial closet but it wasn't an option to add on to the home's footprint or reconfigure the bedroom...."We realized that the only place we could put a closet was in the turret. However, the turret is such a special aspect of the house, we didn't want to ruin it in the process," says Allen. Since it was essential that the windows remain intact, Allen's storage solution was to design custom cabinetry that fit between and underneath the windows in the rounded space...."
Boston Globe “Small Changes, Big Results” | January 13, 2011, Jaci Conry

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Old-house fireplaces that have been decommissioned—thanks to flues co-opted to vent central heating systems—can be brought back to good working order with some thoughtful repairs.
Old House Journal | January 2011, Charlie Allen

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As a contractor who specializes in renovating and restoring older homes, I've been in scores of them throughout the city—but none as old as the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House at 159 Brattle St.....
Cambridge Chronicle | December 2, 2010, Charlie Allen

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Finding new uses for already-existing space is one of his specialties. "Attics and basements are an old-house contractor's friends," Allen smiles. Sometimes space solutions lie even closer to hand, as demonstrated in a Cambridge Shingle style house. A turret in the master bedroom, though charming, was unused space until he transformed it into a dressing room with panache....He has never gotten the dirt out from under his fingernails. "Harvard was the first place where I'd encountered a stigma against working with your hands," the Puget Sound native recalls. "I grew up on a 17-acre waterfront farm, where my dad, a mechanical engineer, came home from work every day, changed, and went to work!" Clearly, he brought that attitude with him, and New England is richer for it.
Perspective New England | Fall 2010, Regina Cole

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"Restoring a Greek Revival or a Victorian home to its period means balancing the preservation of the building's historic fabric against the needs of modern daily living. Doing that well is an art that Charlie Allen '70 has been practicing for nearly 40 years in the Boston area....for his customers, the goal is to make their homes function well and look the period.  The result is a testament to the link between utility and beauty."
Harvard Magazine, "Charlie Allen's Art of Home Restoration" | July - August 2010, Jonathan Shaw

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The owner, and restoration expert Charlie Allen, saw the potential in this 1870s Victorian Mansard in Cambridge, MA. "It was a gem, really," [says Charlie.] "It could be a gem." The owner just couldn't afford to do everything at once, so Charlie came up with a master plan, then spread the work out over ten years. This kept the project from financially overwhelming the owner and also allowed her to stay in the house the whole time."
NECN New England Dream House | March 21, 2010

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When your contractor is frequently compared to Honest Abe, you know you’re working with someone special. A Harvard grad with a Lincolnesque beard, Charlie Allen has pursued the art of historic restoration and renovation since 1978. Over the decades, he’s amassed a veritable trophy case of preservation awards while recruiting an equally talented staff (he even pays for their continuing education). Together, he and his team bring period homes back to their original luster, room by room. Allen’s company is admirably forward-looking, too: Project Development Manager Mark Philben is a certified green remodeler.
Boston Home Magazine, "Best of Boston 2010" | January-February 2010

Charlie Allen of Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge recommends the Boston Building Materials Co-op as a source for quality materials, including green products. Allen kept all the wood windows, original moldings, flooring, and plaster walls while renovating his own 1839 Greek Revival home. "Old houses...are inherently green, because you're not using energy to create the fabric," he says.
Boston Globe Magazine, "Changes That Pay" | December 6, 2009, Aubin Tyler

'Tis the season for a hot cup of cocoa in front of a roaring fire, but is your fireplace or chimney up to par? If not, that could certainly ruin the mood, or worse. Depending on the problem, it could cause some pretty serious damage. Charlie Allen, founder and president of Charlie Allen Renovations, has some tips.
Fox 25 Morning News | November 24, 2009, Gene Lavanchy

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...the challenges of an old-house restoration can stymie even the most eager old-house restorer once a project gets underway. But working with professionals on a restoration project doesn't have to be equated with letting go or losing control—it's just another way to get the job done.
Old House Journal, "Behind the Scenes of a Decade-Long
Restoration," | November-December 2009, Charlie Allen

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"...what trends are local designers most excited about?  And what looks are they sick and tired of?  We asked a few local notables about what's hot and what's not.  Alyssa Moskos, selections coordinator, Charlie Allen Restorations [is inspired by] recycled paper and poured concrete countertops for the kitchen.  For recycled paper counters, they actually use 100 percent post consumer recycled paper and they bond it....I'm so sick of looking at granite countertops and stainless appliances in kitchens...The hottest trend in kitchen appliances is using color.  They're just sort of fun and different and less antiseptic looking..."
Boston Globe, "What's Hot and What's Not," | October 1, 2009, Hayley Kaufman

"When renovating this basement kitchen, proper lighting and a functional floor plan were essential.  Using a wide variety of colors, textures, and materials ensured an engaging aesthetic," [says] Charlie Allen.
Design New England | September-October 2009 , Molly Jane Quinn

If you're an owner of an older home and the wear and tear on the place is starting to show, there is no need to trade your house in for a new one. The right renovation project can add value to your home and create some really beautiful living space. Charlie Allen, an award-winning renovator based in Cambridge, recently joined the FOX25 Morning News with some tips...
Fox25 Morning News | June 8, 2009, Gene Lavanchy

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Older, period homes are often looked at as charming and full of character. But they also present some unique challenges when it comes to upkeep and renovating. Joining Good Morning Live with some cost-effective tips to keep your older home's charm and get what you want out of it, is award-winning Cambridge, Massachusetts based renovator Charlie Allen...
NECN Good Morning Live | June 9, 2009, Mike Nikitas

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Calling Charlie Allen a general contractor is a bit like calling an archaeologist a ditch digger.  It's true, but misses all the subtlety and craft.  Allen renovates period homes, undoing the damage that's been done over the years — sometimes centuries — by well-meaning owners and builders, and updating decrepit systems to make them functional and safe.  And he does all this while trying to keep the beauty and integrity of the home intact.  One of his favorite moments?  Peeling back the aluminum siding from a home to see what treasures lie beneath.  "That," he says, "is really fun."....
Boston Globe | January 29, 2009, Hayley Kaufman

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Mark Philben, of prize-winning Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, specializes in old homes with good bones and lots of character, but he acknowledges that such homes often have eco-issues when it comes to modern needs like energy efficiency. "Nevertheless, our clients buy these homes with their eyes open; they know what they're getting into," he says. One good thing about drafty old houses: mold problems are a rarity. "We've only had one house, an eighteenth-century brick house on Beacon Hill, that had a mold issue," Philben says. "most old houses are so drafty that any water evaporates. When we tighten them up we have to do it in such a way that it in fact doesn't create a mold problem."
New England Home | January-February 2009, Louis Postel

bathroom restoration, childrenWhen converting an unfinished section of the attic in their 1890s Shingel-style Victorian just outside of Boston into a master bathroom, Ingrid and John Coates had two goals.  First, they wanted to usher plenty of light into the third-floor space.  They also wanted to add a dash of whimsy for their children, whose playroom is adjacent to the bathroom.  And they wanted to accomplish both things while remaining true to the style of the home.

Because the footprint of the house couldn't be expanded, restoration contractor Charlie Allen built in a gable dormer to drench the tub room with natural light.  He also worked with the unusual shape of the roofline to create a trapeziodal transom above the door between the tub and shower that further opens up the space.  A skylight over the shower and a small porthole window near the sink help the room feel even sunnier.

The childlike fancy the Coates sought was achieved by a shower stall lined with alphabet tiles bearing images from Aesop's fables.  "They're fun, but they're also appropriate to the era of the house," Charlie notes.
Old House Journal | September-October 2008

"…The couple, who had bought the Cambridge, Massachusetts house with the intention of restoring its single-family configuration, longed for a master bath within shuffling distance of their bedroom.  And while they wanted it to feel right for their 19th-century home, they also wanted 21st-century amenities like a steam shower and radiant heat.  Local designer Charlie Allen reintegrated the rental unit to add a vintage-look master bath and dressing area….Says Allen, "Now they can roll out of bed and step right into the shower.”
This Old House, “From Bedroom to Bath: How a rowhouse gained spaced for a master bathroom, dressing area, and more,” | September 2008, Carole Braden.

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Bathing nook Charlie Allen, principal of Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, took on the challenge of creating a comfy bathing nook in an 1837 house.  Renovated in the 1980s, the interiors crossed historic references with somewhat dated contemporary features.  Allen positioned a cast iron slipper tub in a corner opposite a modern shower with glass doors, and placed a gas-insert fireplace with a vintage motif opposite the tub to cozy effect.

“We decided that it was important to renovate the room with an eye toward maintaining the integrity of the home,” says Allen.  “At the same time, we wanted to create a space that offered spa-level relaxation.  This new deep soaking tub was a perfect fit; its classic profile works especially well within an older home.”
Design New England, “Perfect Profile,” | March-April 2008, Molly Jane Quinn

Charlie Allen, founder of Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge, MA, explains: “We’re seeing an increase in products that bring natural outdoor feelings….We’re seeing a lot of limestone and marble, as opposed to manufactured products.  Clients are drawn to ‘natural design elements.’….
Allen offers: “Storage is very important…clutter is the antithesis of a relaxing, inviting experience.  Therefore, we’re careful to maximize all available space and provide discreet storage for all necessary items.” 
Kitchen and Bath Design News, “Natural Beauty,” | March 2008, John Filippelli

Master bath, 1850s row houseBathroom of the Year 2007:  Old homes can often seduce owners with their history and charm while frustrating in equal part with their outdated floor plans.  This paradox plagued Cambridge homeowners Jill Becker and Drew Phelps, who needed to add a master bath to their lovely but impractically laid-out 1850s row house.  The antique Greek Revival had only one bathroom, on the first floor, far from their second-floor master bedroom….the oblong footprint had its challenges.  “Often in row homes, there are rooms you walk through,” says Charlie Allen of Charlie Allen Renovations, the builder for the project.
Boston Globe Magazine, “Home of the Year” issue, | December 12, 2007, Jessica Keener


A roaring fire sets a cozy holiday scene, but it can also allow warm air to escape from your home.  A chimney-top damper or high-efficiency fireplace insert will cut down on heat loss, explains Charlie Allen, owner of Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge.  Wood-burning or pellet stoves are more efficient options.  And, in case you were wondering, burning wood releases the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as wood rotting naturally would, though burning creates more particulate matter.
Boston Globe Magazine, “It’s a Green, Green World,” | November 18, 2007,
Meaghan O’Neill.

Shannon and her boyfriend Phil fell in love with a colonial home.  But they felt this room was too bare and thought a fireplace would be the perfect touch.  Shannon Webster, homeowner: “We just wanted to cozy the room up a bit and try and bring back maybe some historical character.”  So in comes Charlie Allen of Charlie Allen Renovations to help them warm up the space.  Charlie Allen: “Well, we did have the chimney, but that’s all we had.  And they chose, I think very correctly, this English cast iron insert that will run off the size of flue they had available to them.”
WHDH-TV Boston, 7 News “Room For Improvement,” | January 3, 2008,
Lauren Przybyl, reporter.

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  September 15, 2016
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  February 4, 2013
Annual Survey and Analysis of 11 Million Monthly Users Reveals Top-Rated U.S. Professionals
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  November 15, 2011
Firm honored for spa-style bath in Cambridge Colonial
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  July 7, 2011
Awards from Cambridge and Somerville Historic Commissions are the twelfth and thirteenth received by the Cambridge firm
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  January 6, 2010
Cambridge firm is region’s Best Restoration Contractor
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  June 1, 2009
Award is the 4th for the Cambridge-based firm
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  October 30, 2008
Programs from National Association of Home Builders and National Association of the Remodeling Industry Address Growing Demand For Services
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  May 13, 2008
Award recognizes nation’s best remodeling firms
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  Cambridge remodeling  
  January 7, 2008

Cambridge room praised for “classically styled yet high
tech” design

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November 13, 2007
Cambridge firm receives Gold Award for Residential Interiors
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