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Charlie Allen Renovations, Inc. | 91 River Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
617.661.7411 | info@charlie-allen.com | www.charlie-allen.com



Federal Style HouseToday, it’s a centerpiece of many homes, surpassing the living room as the space where families are most likely to gather. But the kitchen hasn’t always held such an esteemed position.

For most of history, the kitchen would not have been anyone’s favorite locale for socializing. Prior to the arrival of proper ventilation, gas heating, electricity, and indoor plumbing, kitchens were hot, smoky rooms where the backbreaking chores of cooking and cleaning over an open fire were endured.

Federal Style HouseEven after technology began making cooking easier, society was slow to embrace the concept that meal preparation could be enjoyable. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, kitchens were usually found at the back of the home and cooking was performed behind closed doors, by servants if possible. Meals were usually eaten in a separate dining room.

Today however, mealtime can be one of the only moments in the day when a busy family gathers together. Thanks to venting and other modern conveniences, we can open the kitchen to the living area, add dining space and even desk space for computers, and everything from prep to dining to cleanup can be a communal event. And when entertaining friends, the cook doesn’t disappear from the fun: instead the fun centers around the cooking.

So what do you do if you’re living in a home built before the kitchen became everyone’s favorite place to hang out? Depending on the layout of your home and the size of the room, options range from reconfiguring the space to adding a multi-purpose kitchen island to tearing down walls or creating half-walls between kitchen and living or dining rooms. In some cases, additions that expand the square-footage of the room might be the fix.



A few weeks ago, we joined the social media website Houzz, which offers members the chance to browse millions of renovation “after” shots. If a member likes a particular project, they can add the photo to their personal ‘ideabook.’ Since joining, we’ve contributed images from dozens of projects, answered numerous reader questions, met with a prospective client who found us on the site, and been interviewed by Remodeling magazine for an article about Houzz and its many benefits. For home/design lovers, it seems Houzz is a hit!

Several of our projects have proven to be especially popular, and we thought it would be fun to count down the top five for you:

Greek Revival Row House5. We improved the functionality in the small first-floor guest bath in this 1875 Mansard in Cambridge by adding a shower. It was important to the homeowner that we preserve the traditional character of the home. We did this by incorporating a shower base that complements the existing baseboards, and also introduced period-appropriate lighting to the room.
Greek Revival Row House4. This bathroom was renovated to meet the needs of the homeowner’s two small children. Kid-friendly features include a child-sized toilet, a tub wide enough to comfortably bathe two children at once, cheerful blue and green mosaic tiles, and pendant lighting. A skylight brings in lots of sunshine.
Greek Revival Row House3. This spa-inspired bath wouldn’t be out of place in a high-end hotel, but it’s actually part of a 1915 Colonial on historic Brattle Street in Cambridge. Luxurious design elements include a vanity countertop and apron crafted from a single piece of Azul Cielo marble, a deep soaking tub, and Ann Sacks tile.
Greek Revival Row House2. Our most popular kitchen on Houzz is this rustic room in a Queen Anne Victorian. The homeowners wanted a more functional, expansive space. We relocated a mudroom and bathroom along the back wall, adding a row of large windows and better connection to the yard beyond. The paint colors are a particular hit, and include C2 Collections Sage for the trim and “Buffed Satin” on the walls.
Greek Revival Row House1. And our most popular project of all on Houzz is the bath we added, along an interior wall, in an 1853 Greek Revival row house. By featuring clerestory windows and frosted glass on the door, lots of natural light flows into the room from adjacent floor-to-ceiling windows in the hall. A glass-enclosed steam shower includes built-in seating; radiant floor heating and a towel warmer add extra appeal to the bath, which won Boston Globe Magazine’s 2007 Bathroom of the Year award.

Do you have a project you've been hoping to get done?
Give us a call at 617/661-7411 or email us at info@charlie-allen.com — we've got space for one or two projects of any size to start in the next few weeks and would be happy to help.



Events CalendarLearning from the Sixties: Thursday, September 13 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Author John Maher left a privileged life in Houston, Texas to attend Harvard in the 1960s and became engaged in many social and political causes, from protesting the war in Vietnam and debating city councilor and former mayor Al Vellucci to supporting the rent control movement and helping to build Neighbor to Neighbor, a progressive organization advocating for community control and improved standards in working class neighborhoods.  At the Cambridge Historical Society.  Free for CHS members, $5 for nonmembers.  www.cambridgehistory.org/calendar.

The Davis Flea: Sunday, September 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Located in the heart of Davis Square, Somerville, the Davis Flea Market features vendors of antique, vintage, and unique collectibles. You never know what you might find! From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., near the Davis Square T Stop.

Cambridgeport History Day: Saturday, September 29.
This all-day event includes walking tours and activities for all.  The day’s signature attraction is “If These Walls Could Talk,” in which homeowners and businesses post signage detailing the historic significance of their house or shop.  More here: http://www.cambridgehistory.org/calendar/cambridgeport.



Now that the recession is receding, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of homeowners embarking on long-delayed remodeling projects.  The Boston Globe has too, and they asked Charlie to share some post-recession renovation trends for a front-page article in the G section on May 24, “Renovations Get a Rethink.”

Charlie also offered his expertise to the readers of Old House Journal in their August/September 2012 issue. Check out the “Ask OHJ” page, where Charlie advises a homeowner considering adding a roof deck to her home.



Founded in 1905, the Cambridge Historical Society is dedicated to preserving Cambridge tradition and history. It’s an organization – and mission – that we’re proud to support. In fact, after filling a variety of roles, from Facilities Chair to President, Charlie currently serves on the Society’s Council (the Board of Directors).

Since 1957, the Cambridge Historical Society has been housed in the second-oldest building in the city, the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House at 159 Brattle Street (built c. 1685).  Its leadership work hard to preserve and protect this historic building and others like it throughout the city.  But the Society isn’t a museum – it prefers to call itself “a living repository” – a home for historically significant items but also an active participant in the city’s modern-day affairs. 

CHS Executive Director Gavin Kleespies and his team have launched numerous programs and partnerships that have enriched both the organization and the community it serves, including a digital collection of historic photos and other items, viewable at www.cambridgehistory.org. For some upcoming events sponsored by the Historical Society, visit the Events section in this newsletter.


FacebookCharlie Allen Renovations and Social Media
Charlie Allen Renovations is on Facebook.  If you are too, please ‘like’ us for inside looks at favorite projects, renovation tips, and more.  As you already know, we’re also on Houzz, and we’ve just joined Twitter and Pinterest too, where we’re known as CARestorations

And while you’re online, if you have a few minutes and would like to provide feedback on your experience with Charlie Allen Renovations, please stop by Angie’s List, the website that allows its members to review businesses and services. 


Charlie Allen Renovations | 91 River Street, Cambridge, MA 02139