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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



Best of Boston Home 2010The holiday season was especially exciting in the office as we learned that we were selected by Boston Home magazine as Best of Boston Home 2010 Restoration Contractor. To be honest, we thought something might be up back in October when the magazine invited Charlie to take part in a photo shoot celebrating 'people we’ve written about in the last year.' We couldn’t recall any recent appearances in Boston Home, but were happy to take part regardless.

This year, many of our outstanding trade partners are also winners, including C&R Flooring in Needham, Splash in Newton, Wolfers Lighting in Allston and Waltham, and Restoration Resources, Yale Appliance and Lighting, and Building Materials Resource Center, all in Boston. Congratulations!

Best of Boston is a long-running tradition, with winners 'exhaustively researched' by the magazine's staff and 'verified by more than 100 trade professionals.' We're truly honored to be part of it. Thanks to everyone at Boston Home, and of course, thanks to all of you who have welcomed us into your homes to do the work that we love to do.

In the issue, on newsstands now, editor Rachel Levitt writes:

Best of Boston Home 2010 "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 Developer Mark Philben is a certified green remodeler."

As we plan our 2010 newsletter features, please let us know if there are any period home renovation or restoration concerns that you'd like to see addressed in an upcoming issue. Please send your suggestions to: info@charlie-allen.com



Project Development Manager Mark Philben has nearly twenty-five years of hands-on experience, and has never stopped educating himself about emerging build and design trends and innovations. This might be why the suggestion "Ask Mark" is heard so often around our offices.

Now, Mark’s expert knowledge is available to you at no charge.

  • Want to make your home energy efficient and environmentally sound? As a certified green remodeler, Mark is one of the area's leading experts.

  • Looking for ways to increase storage space? Add a playroom or another bedroom? Better flow and functionality? A certified lead carpenter and certi-fied remodeler like Mark is a great resource.

  • Want to make sure your home remains comfortable and manageable well into your golden years? Mark, a certified aging-in-place specialist, has many smart solutions.

As a subscriber to The Homeowner’s Guide, you’ll receive monthly tips from Mark. This month we start with aging-in-place solutions, but Mark is always happy to discuss any of your renovation concerns—just call 617/661-7411 or email mark@charlie-allen.com to schedule a free in-house consultation.


Grab barsQ: When is the best time to start thinking about aging-in-place improvements?
A: Any time you are planning a remodel, regardless of your age, you should plan for the future. For example, while you don’t need to immediately install grab bars in your bathroom, you should have your contractor install blocking for the future installation. A little extra planning today could save you significant money in the future. Many people who need to have a house set up with aging in place solutions need to have it done as a result of a traumatic injury or illness which leaves little time to plan and implement the work. Planning early with a qualified contractor and having a plan in place (if not some of the work done) will make the transition easier.

Q: What are some common aging-in-place renovation solutions?
A: Curbless showers, grab bars, lowered height counters and vanities, extra lighting for aging eyes, motion sensor switching for lights, installing levers for faucets and door knobs, installing raised dishwashers, lowering cooking surfaces. Door openings should be minimum 36" wide and doors removed whenever practical. On the exterior, installing ramps and rails for access to egress doors, motion sensor exterior lights, a bench next to the door to put things on when entering.

Q: How do these renovations impact the value of my home?
A: There is little data to date on how some of these will impact home value. Many aging in place improvements will blend seamlessly into any buyer’s lifestyle. Wider doorways, better lighting and switching, curbless showers etc., could actually enhance home value if done properly. Others such as wheelchair ramps and lowered cabinets and appliances could be a detraction for certain buyers.

Curbless ShowerQ: What is the price range for some standard aging-in-place improvements?
A: There are many items above that are not cost-prohibitive and can be done at any time like swapping out hardware, lighted switching or some motion sensor lighting. If you are thinking about a remodel, many of the above ideas can be incorporated into the design of a new kitchen, bath or main house and will not raise the price of your project significantly.



Charlie Allen - NewsCharlie returned to Fox25’s Morning News in November to share tips about chimney and fireplace maintenance, renovation, and installation with host Gene Lavanchy. You can see the clip on our website (www.charlie-allen.com) and our Facebook page (search for Charlie Allen Renovations.)

Charlie also shared thoughts on environmentally conscious renovation in Boston Globe Magazine’s annual 'Your Green Home' issue, which came out on Sunday, December 6. In the article titled "Changes That Pay," writer Aubin Tyler noted that Charlie kept all the wood windows, original moldings, flooring, and plaster walls while renovating his own 1839 Greek Revival home. "Old houses... are inherently green," Charlie said, "because you’re not using energy to create the fabric.

A crew from New England Cable News's "New England Dream House" will be filming a home in Cambridgeport that we lovingly restored over a ten-year period next month. (Some of you might remember the house from a previous issue of this newsletter.) The segment is scheduled to run later this winter: please check our Facebook page or website for more information.


We're on Facebook! Charlie Allen Renovations has a Facebook fan page where you can view project work, check out links to cool renovation/restoration websites, and find out the latest news from 91 River Street. Please join us.



Charlie Allen - Period HomeThe mid-19th century brought a lot of changes to the ways we lived. Technical advances allowed homebuilders to mass-produce construction elements and even entire houses. This standardized approach simplified home-building and contributed to the development of an American middle class. But for many tradespeople these innovations threatened the skills and techniques that were developed over centuries and passed down through generations. The Arts & Crafts movement developed in part out of fear that skilled handiwork might disappear forever.

On January 4, 1897, many of Boston’s leading design
professionals met at the Museum of Fine Arts to celebrate simple craftsmanship. An exhibition at Copley Hall followed in April, and later that year, the group, now named the Society of Arts and Crafts, announced its credo, reading in part: "This Society... endeavors to stimulate in workmen an appreciation of the dignity and value of good design... It will insist upon the necessity of sobriety and restraint, of ordered arrangement, of due regard for the relation between the form of an object and its use, and of harmony and fitness in the decoration put upon it."

Today, the bungalow is the most common Arts & Crafts architectural style that we see locally. Identifying points include an emphasis on natural materials like wood and stone, wide eaves, rafters that are visible at the roofline, stained and leaded glass windows, and wide, welcoming front porches. Interior spaces feature lots of built-in shelving and storage, and typically, a prominent stone fireplace. Artistic carved wood detailing, both inside and out, spotlights the artistic aspect of the Arts & Crafts movement.


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