Boston’s Top 10

Boston Magazine through a system of analytics, annually ranks all the 155 High Schools within the 495 belt. Small class sizes, lower Student / Teacher ratios, and a strong sports program are weighted more heavily.  Boston Magazine shares these rankings each year in their September issue. The complete 2016  ranking is attached here.

The 2016 Top Schools list is fairly consistent with 2015 Top Ten.  Westborough and Concord / Carlisle fell out of the top 10, while Acton/Boxborough and Winchester found their elite spots.

Our top 10 towns continue to offer a wide range of Single Family Average Selling Price (ASP) as well as commuting times.  The real estate mantra of “Location, Location, Location” definitely applies here when considering ASP vs. commute times for our Top 10.

Lexington 10 Yr ASP
Lexington MA Average Sales Price – 10 yr

When choosing a town, schools are key. But other important factors such as housing affordability and commute times should also be considered.  It’s no surprise communities closer to downtown Boston have more public transportation options (Newton, Winchester), offering both commuter rail and bus options with a smaller drive times as well.   Towns farther out; Dover, Boxborough, Harvard, etc.  have much longer commute times, and often only by car.  However, home affordability is much easier on the bank account.  Additionally, the farther you live from Boston, the more land you tend to get with a home.  All these factors are important when deciding towns you’d like to pursue.

There are several towns sharing a High School.  There are two examples on the Boston Magazine list;  Dover/Sherborn and Acton/Boxborough. Other examples of shared schools: Concord/Carlisle and Lincoln/Sudbury.  Often the sharing towns have very different feels and ASP’s.

Concord MA 10 Yr ASP
Concord 10 Yr Average Single Family sales price

Concord has a very dynamic town center (actually 2 centers……Concord and the up and coming “West Concord” home of the newest hot spot,  a Farm to Table restaurant, Woods Hill Table …Plan ahead, the choice times are often not available)  with  artisanal  “mom and pop shops”.

Carlisle 10 Yr ASP
Carlisle, MA 10 Yr ASP – Single Family Homes

 

Carlisle typically has a 2 acre minimum and is fairly wooded.  No public transportation of any kind, other than a school bus!  Carlisle is a town with a single store, “Fern’s”.  A one stop shop, providing a decent deli and wine assortment.   Also good for last minute bread, eggs, and milk!

 

Boston Magazine HS Ranking

 

Community

Average 2016 Sales Price of a Single-Family Home

Average Commute time to DT Boston

Public Transportation Option

1

Dover $1,285,800 40 Minutes none

1

Sherborn $803,800 43 Minutes

none

2

Lexington $1,207,000 30 minutes

Bus to Alewife

3 Weston $1,887,700 25 minutes

Train

4 Wayland $835,800 33 minutes None
5 Newton South $1,249,300 25 minutes Train / Bus
6 Wellesley $1,478,800 35 minutes Train
7 Harvard $601,100 53 minutes none
8 Acton $596,700 43 minutes Train
8 Boxborough $626,000 45 minutes none
9 Bedford $775,300 33 minutes Bus to Alewife
10 Winchester $1,174,100 23 minutes Train / Bus

I’ve only indicated whether there are train or bus stops actually within a specific community. There are commuter options for many of the above if you’re willing to drive to an adjacent town.  For example, Bedford residents can drive to nearby Concord to take the train/Commuter Rail into Boston.  Boxborough residents can drive to either the Littleton or Acton station, etc.  Please visit MBTA Map & Schedules for additional information.

Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.

Our home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise your family, full of memories and cherished belongings.  We fall in love with a home the way we never would with a stock portfolio.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the physical features of the houses you’re looking at.  However, please stop to consider how the places you’re considering would shape your social relationships within and outside the family. One of the biggest tradeoffs is commuting.  People focus on a home that’s a certain size or style, ignoring the fact they want to spend as much time as possible with family.  That “Perfect” house may require a longer commute, keeping them away from home for an extra hour or two each working day!

Also – when looking at affordability, please include the costs of any renovations or new furniture you may need / want.  When you’re thinking about a house, think about the furnishings at the same time.

Dr. Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale, wrote about recent home buyers around the country and their expectations on future values of their homes.

He found most home buyers have very high long term price expectations.  This could lead to someone buying a home not because it’s a good fit, but because a buyer deems it as a good investment. Some even plan on using the equity in their homes to fund their retirement.  Remember, you still need a place to live in retirement!

 

My Top 10 Interior Design Books for 2012

1. The Age of Elegance: Interiors by Alex Papachristidis 

The Age of Elegance; Interiors by Alex Pachristidis

Born and raised in New York City, Papachristidis launched his career while still at Parsons School of Design.  Traveling extensively from an early age, he was exposed to and influenced by many beautiful homes and buildings. “Look at everything, go everywhere” is his mantra. His style:  Classic, lots of marble, leopard, cheetah, and gilt; he makes linen look luxurious.   His rooms are always very well balanced, I don’t mean physically…but visually balanced.  Never staid; traditional elements with amazing touches of the unexpected. Lots of design layers, both objects and fabrics.  The book cover itself, speaks for his style. My FAV page in this interior design book is the cover (see pg. 157).

2. Around Beauty, by Barbara Barry 

Barbara Barry, Around Beauty

Barbara Barry’s first home design book!  Outlining her daily search for beauty, how she finds it or creates it. Her signature calligraphic scroll,  free form yet stylized, she took it from her doodles! She refers to them as her “slinky ovals”. Take your time, curl up with a nice cup of tea. It’s an amazing “curl up” book. Peace and contentment and beauty. Simplicity, clarity, confidence. She and Jan Showers have the most beautiful lamp cords (see page 287). Colors and textures of nature.  Wrought iron wall paper, sheet patterns, dinnerware, structured yet relaxing, and lightly elegant. High end distribution of her products:  Lighting, furniture, fabrics, carpets, tile, sheeting, luggage, dishes, etc.. can be found at Bloomingdale’s, Neimans, etc.

3. The Houses of Veranda, by Lisa Newsom

The Houses of Veranda, Lisa Newsom

Veranda is one of my favorite shelter magazines.  Evolved from Southern Accents, with a clean, sophisticated sense.  This interior design book takes you through many of their featured homes: bright, comfortable, simple, sophisticated. Every home featured is stunning. Different homes, different designers.  My hands down FAV PAGE here is 61.  The simple yet strong contemporary art piece  (Rothko having a rigid moment in gold and white) is amazing over a more traditional hall table.  The lines in this arrangement, vertical carvings in the table, fluted columns and the horizontal movement of the painting, are impactful. Layer in the more ornate black sphinx, crown molding, candelabra pieces, and it all comes together.  Suzanne Kasler, one of my favorite interior designers actually designed this room (her book is included on my list, too!)

4. Flowers, by Carolyne Roehm 

Carolyne Roehm, Flowers

Carolyne Roehm worked for Oscar de la Renta, was married to Henry Kravis, friends with and inspired by Bill Blass. You can see the Blass influence.  She bring strong Haute Couture to home design, which is well balanced with her strong Midwest roots. Bill Blass called her the “Ultimate Tastemaker.”

I’ve met Bill Blass in my previous life – my former company designed and marketed his bedding line for several years.  Talk about a tastemaker, the man was stunning.  I remember his shoes were impeccable!

Actually, I love everything Carolyne Roehm has ever touched, have every book she’s ever written.  She first introduced a seasonal collection of books, almost 10 years ago.  This was my first taste of Carolyne Roehm in the late 1990’s.  I’ve followed her ever since. Please read about her renovation of Weatherstone, her cherished Connecticut home, after the fire.  She’s currently working on a second home in Charleston.  Equally beautiful!

Here is a list of Carolyne Roehm’s books, if you’d like to explore more!

Every single page in her books are flawless.  She shows the most refined taste level – I started with her, she inspires me!

5. A Visual Life: Scrapbooks, Collages and Inspirations, by Charlotte Moss 

Charlotte Moss, A Visual Life

Charlotte Moss is another prolific interior design writer with more than 5 books (OK, 8) to her credit. She used to have a store on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, which closed down in 2008.  Despite being open for only a short time, the store had such a wonderful respite.  I love the way it was merchandised:  it was a journey of perfectly decorated rooms.  The shop was located in an old townhome in which I could spend several hours. Each room is well layered.   It’s a great place to find that unique, tasteful gift.  My favorite of her books, A Visual Life,  is a creative scrapbook layout.  Each page offers a style collage, your eye wanders and learns.  A lot of focus on garden exterior shots….C’est Inspire tab on her website.  Stunning website…look at her pictures. She used to work on Wall Street, their loss!

6. The Collected Home: Rooms with Style, Grace and History, by Darryl Carter 

Darryl Carter - the collected home

I was actually exposed to Darryl Carter by a client of mine. Her home was put together so well; it sold immediately! She had impeccable taste, so I thought “why not”?

Darryl Carter believes in the “collected home”, an architectural envelope enhanced by individual possessions layered in over time. This interior design book leads you through the design process. His chapters include: Feel, Collect, Curate, Evolve. His rooms are neutral and uncluttered, yet collected. Primarily darker woods with very light walls make strong, visually interesting rooms. Carter uses lots of antique architectural elements with natural patina, old leather trunks, beams, repurposed doors. Layer in key pieces to finish with simple sophistication.

He’s also sprinkled tips throughout.  Anyone starting a renovation or filling a new home, must read The Collected Home. He’s an amazing writer, with strong choice of words. A great read!

OK, So the next 4 aren’t from 2012…but they’re amazing books by incredible interior designers and I had to make sure they were on your radar.

7. Suzanne Kasler: Inspired Interiors, by Suzanne Kasler

Suzanne Kasler, Inspired Interiors

Suzanne Kasler is one of my favorite interior designers.  Her gorgeously elegant rooms are rooted in classic design, but with a light, feminine touch.  A pink-velvet seat cover here, a scarf used as a throw there, Her rooms are dressed up but comfortable and liveable,  It’s no wonder she was named one of the top 100 designers by House Beautiful. She is one of my all time favorite interior designers.  She has a new book out this year, Timeless Style…we’ll cover that later.

 

8. Mary McDonald: Interiors, The Allure of Style, by Mary McDonald

Interior Design top 10

Although I don’t embrace her style completely, there are things she does very well. “Old school and elegant with a touch of whimsy”. She’s eclectic, classic, and clean, very clean and crisp. She starts neutral and adds pops of color evenly. The end result often shows strong use of color in traditional settings with layers of pattern, texture and color.  Some of her rooms almost have a Kelly Wearstler approach to color.  Dec pillows, draped fabrics and upholstered pieces show perfect dressmaker detailing.  Along with fantastic wallpapers, this is her focus.  One of my favorite rooms is totally papered in leopard. (I might tone it down and do a single wall, but the look is incredible). My favorite color choices, chocolate, taupe, and the palest blush pink.  So rich!  She’s very good at taking older pieces of furniture and updating them via color and or fabric.  If you’ve inherited some great pieces and aren’t quite sure how to layer them in, you’ve found your source. PS – She’s somewhat of a local girl; she went to BC before Parsons!

9. Glamour at Home, by Nancy Corzine 

Nancy Corzine, Glamour at HomeHer website features furniture, lighting, fabrics, and accessories (home textiles coming soon!) I personally COVET her Marston bench, stunning in a soft, buttery leather. Nancy Corzine’s style is Hollywood upscale chic with a touch of whimsy.  She has an amazing color sense.  Her colors are very light and airy. Her interior design book is broken up with lessons on how to choose the right pieces for your room.  She focuses on making even the practical spaces look inviting.  Office space, kitchens:  a huge focus for her is your foyer.  “It should reflect and make a place where an exceptional a statement should be made, an unforgettable first impression.” Her rooms are always well done. Favorite color combination: soft robin’s egg blue with shades of sand, taupe.  Friendly and inviting.

10. Glamorous Rooms, by Jan Showers 

Jan Showers Glamorous Rooms Book

Look at her Louis Mirror:  This overscaled soleil mirror makes in impactful statement in any room. She does an amazing job with  lamps from well shaped shades to the stunning silk twisted cords.  There are some similar styled lamps in the Cottage, Concord. She has the BEST customer service staff, Natalie Nix is amazing.  When you’re in Dallas, stop by Jan’s showroom.  Natalie will make you feel welcome! She’s friendly and efficient, great follow through! Jan’s style is clean, fresh, bright.  Nice use of color, very user friendly color combinations. Jan Showers also has her own blog, which you can sign up to receive on her website. I know it’s going to be an incredible day, when I see it in my mailbox.  If only she knew how happy she makes me!