There is something about Cambridge, Mass….
We have many wonderful clients in Cambridge and frequently design and build custom whole home remodels there. After nearly twenty years of working in Cambridge I wanted to share my views on this beautiful part of greater Boston.
What is it about Cambridge? Home to some of the brightest minds in the United States, this area of greater Boston has a distinct ethos, beauty and feeling all of its own.
“How you like them Apples?” the famous line so eloquently uttered by Will Hunting (Matt Damon) in his film Good Will Hunting was immortalized on film in this beautiful part of Boston. In actual life Damon grew up in Cambridge—his mother Nancy Carlsson-Paige a professor of early childhood education at Cambridge’s Lesley University where she taught for three decades.
The Good Will Hunting script was born of an English paper written by Matt Damon when he was a student at Harvard University in Cambridge after graduating from Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School.
Of late, standout film director Sian Heder recently came home to Cambridge, Mass. with an Oscar for the stunning film CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). Sian Heder was born and raised in Cambridge Mass by her Welsh artist mother Ms. Mags Harries and her Hungarian artist father Mr. Lajos Heder—she also attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin. CODA recently took the Academy Awards by storm after debuting at Sundance and was purchased by Apple for a record 25 million dollars.
Cambridge has a cultured air—calm and beautiful. Residents experience four seasons, with Fall being one of my very favorite. I distinctly remember walking the streets of Cambridge as a child in the Fall, a tang of woodsmoke in the air—en route to one of Harvard Square’s exceptional artisan bakeries for a treat with my school class. These are fond memories. In these times Warburton’s Bakery was our Cambridge Valhalla of choice. Now Tatte in Harvard Square has my heart.
Cambridge sits directly north of the Charles River and covers 7.1 square miles–arranged around five key squares and their individual culture-rich neighborhoods. Each square is special and distinct, with its own cosmopolitan ambience and feel: Harvard Square, Central Square, Porter Square, Kendall Square, and Inman Square are the starting five.
With several of the top universities and schools in the nation (and really the world) Cambridge draws an intellectual and worldly array of professors, educators, faculty, students and parents. Cambridge FEELS smart.
AN EXTREMELY BRIEF HISTORY OF CAMBRIDGE, MASS
Originally called Newtown, Cambridge Mass was settled in 1630 by one Thomas Dudley of Northampton, England and was incorporated in 1636. Cambridge Mass was then named for its namesake university of Cambridge, in England; Dudley built the first house in Cambridge and would go on to serve several terms as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Harvard University was later established on September 8, 1636 in Cambridge.
As of 2020, Cambridge was the fourth largest city in the State of Massachusetts—behind Boston, Springfield and Worcester.
As far as wealth goes, out of a study of the top 475 cities in the US, Cambridge was in the top 10. As a city I find it upscale and genuine without being pretentious. (I suggest visiting Beverly Hills in California if you want to see the exact opposite.)
THE BEST COFFEE SHOP IN CAMBRIDGE, MASS:
Coffee… Cambridge excels in this arena.
While “best” is a debatable word, here are two of my favorite venues for coffee in Cambridge:
Tatte Bakery and Café
Three locations in Cambridge:
318 Third Street
1288 Mass Ave (Harvard Square location)
210 Jacobs Street
Experience heaven. Tatte is simply one of the best coffee shops/eateries/bakeries I have been to across the US, Europe and Asia. It’s Boston joy in a cup. The Tatte interior aesthetic is ample natural light while black subway tiles line the floor. Each venue exudes…happiness.
Tatte was founded 15 years ago by Tzurit Or in her home kitchen. Of Israeli origins, Ms. Or left a 12- year film career to begin her life in the US. Tatte (“Daddy” in Yiddish) is born of her desire to bring people together over delicious, natural food. Visually – it’s artistic in the extreme and just over the top creative and delicious. And Bostonians LOVE it. Truly. Walking past the Beacon Hill location last Fall the line was 30 yards long out the door and people were waiting in it HAPPILY.
Here’s the brunch menu–you’re welcome.
My favorite is the Smoked Salmon, avocado and egg sandwich with red onion and capers (served on a housemade roll) along with the Greek Style Pancakes with pear jam. No words…
1369 Coffee House
Inman Square: 1369 Cambridge Street
Central Square: 757 Mass Ave.
1369 is a special experience. They are utterly Cambridge…cultured, intelligent, warm and a venue offering a safe space in which to gather, communicate and create. Screenplays, books and many a thesis has been written at their tables while enjoying their delicious and extremely high-quality coffee. Local artwork graces the walls. 1369 is the anti-chain, moving forward with full authenticity since the first 1369 was initially established in Inman Square in 1993. I think you will love them.
TOP RESTAURANTS IN CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
134 Hampshire Street, Cambridge Mass.
The photography on their website will have you licking your phone—its simply stunning. And the real thing is even better. Oleana is a farm-to-table Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of Cambridge celebrating the cuisine of Turkey and the Middle East. The care, ambience and food are exceptional and a treasured part of Cambridge. I recommend the warm buttered hummus, fried mussels, and Iskender Kebab… And for desert you ask? The Pistachio and Orange Blossom Semi-Freddo (Molasses Butter, Cardamom Chocolate Ice Cream) threads the culinary needle every time. Truly epic.
505 Massachusetts Avenue
“Every chef likes to have a restaurant where they can cook whatever the hell they want to cook any time they want to cook it, and this gives us that freedom.”
— KEN ORINGER
Bravo Ken. Specializing in exceptional global tapas, Little Donkey is the inspired brainchild of James Beard Award Winners Ken Oringer and James Bissonnette. This is pure culinary artistry–absolutely delicious on all fronts. The raw bar game is fantastic, and I recommend the salmon sashimi and the wagyu steak tartare. The Bangkok street noodles are also a real treat.
TRAVEL IN CAMBRIDGE MASS:
Cambridge is located about a 5.5 mile (15 min drive depending on traffic) from Logan International Airport. Logan Airport is one of the top airports in the US and will take you pretty much anywhere you need to go, with regular flights nationally as well as internationally to North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Uber and other ride sharing services operate in Cambridge and many residents cycle to and from Boston for both work and pleasure—cycling is truly a thing in Cambridge.
Looking for a bike shop?
EDUCATION IN CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
Kendall Square is known nationally and internationally as the most “innovative square mile on earth.” Today it houses offices of MIT, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and an array of exceptional entrepreneurial start-ups, offices, restaurants and cultural facilities.
Additionally, some of the top schools and universities in the nation and the world are located in Cambridge, Mass.
Harvard is the oldest higher learning institution in the United States–originally founded in 1636 as Harvard College.
Campus: Urban, 209 acres
Motto: Veritas (Latin) Truth (English)
Enrollment: 19,218 (Fall 2020)
Faculty: 2,400 and 10,400 appointments in affiliated teaching hospitals
Endowment: 53.2 Billion (2021)
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Campus: Midsize city, 166 acres
Motto: Mens et Manus (Latin) Mind and Heart (English)
Enrollment: 11,934 (Fall 2021)
Endowment: 27.4 Billion
Hult International Business School
(Hult also has locations in London, San Francisco, Dubai, Shanghai, New York, and Ashridge)
Campus: Urban. 15.87 acres
Motto: Perissem Ni Perstitissem / I would have perished had I not persisted
Enrollment: 6,593 (2018-2019)
Endowment: 186.2 million
ARCHITECTURE, HOMES AND REAL ESTATE IN CAMBRIDGE, MASS:
As an upscale neighborhood directly across the Charles River from Boston spanning seven square miles with a population of approximately 118,000, Cambridge Mass is home to a diverse array of architectural styles including Georgian, Federal/Adam, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival. The majority of these homes range from single to multi-family homes.
The median home sale price in Cambridge Mass is $1,187,00
Cambridge is comprised of 13 neighborhoods ranging from Neighborhood Nine to Strawberry Hill. There are currently 147 homes for sale in Cambridge as with a prices ranging from $490,000 to $15,300,000.
“In April 2022, Cambridge home prices were up 36.1% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $1.2M. On average, homes in Cambridge sell after 14 days on the market compared to 20 days last year. There were 76 homes sold in April this year, down from 84 last year.” www.redfin.com/city/2833/MA/Cambridge/housing-market
These are three top real estate professionals in Cambridge that I would recommend—each with decades of experience.
Gail Roberts, Ed Feijo & Team Real Estate – Cambridge, Mass.
1000 Massachusetts Ave
“When she was in college, Gail Roberts was the coxswain on the crew team, so she knows what it takes to get people to work together and find success. Over the last 30 years, she has used those skills to build one of the most effective teams in real estate, driven to provide the best service to her clients.
Gail has enjoyed numerous honors during her career, including being the No. 1-ranked Coldwell Banker sales associate in New England as well as one of Coldwell Banker’s Top 10 agents worldwide. She also has been named one of America’s Top 50 real estate agents multiple years by The Wall Street Journal and received Coldwell Banker’s Society of Excellence Award, which is earned by less than one percent of agents around the globe.” (www.gailroberts.com)
“We are most impressed with the process you and your team guided us through in selling our property. Every step of the way we felt supported by you.”
Alice & George Chen,
Bonny Lamb – Compass
1073 Massachusetts Ave.
“As a real estate broker with 25+ years of experience and consistently a top-producing agent, Bonny is an expert in the marketing and sale of properties, ranging from condominiums to multi-million dollar homes to new development projects. She is a vice president with Compass, the premier real estate office in Cambridge located in Harvard Square (and previously Vice President at Hammond Real Estate). Her can-do style and hi-tech/hi-touch approach have earned her rave reviews from her clients.” (www.bonnylamb.com)
“I write to thank you for your professional, courteous, and (above all!) successful help and guidance in selling my house in Cambridge this summer. During a very difficult and inscrutable period in the market, your advice and experience with the Cambridge market were essential in securing a sale not only within a few days of putting the property on the market, but also for an amount significantly above the asking price. My wife and I really appreciated the extent to which you good-humouredly handled some of the more complex and unsettling aspects of this process without exposing us unnecessarily to worry or anxiety. I am very glad we chose you and Hammond. With repeated thanks, – Peter Nisbet”
Charles Cherney – Compass
1100 Massachusetts Ave
“I am living my life and doing my work with joy. You can count on me every step of the way as your trusted real estate advisor. I have helped hundreds of buyers and sellers in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts, and I am here to help you. My work ethic is grounded in the notion that the greatest gift is giving and doing things for others without the expectation of return.
My work is my calling. When it does not call, you’ll find me with my family. I love the beach and a good mystery novel and a long walk.” (www.charlescherney.com)
Charles has 60 5-star reviews on Google:
“I cannot imagine having chosen a better Realtor than Charles Cherney to assist me as a buyer in navigating the Cambridge real estate market. Charles has a deep knowledge of the area and educated me on topics related specifically to Cambridge. He is also an excellent communicator and up to speed on new listings, which provided me the opportunity to find a beautiful home in an amazing location just as it hit the market. I believe his counsel with regard to my offer made all the difference in my offer being accepted. Charles is amazingly thorough, responds promptly, and is completely engaged from start to finish. Can’t say enough good things about him!”
HOME DESIGN & REMODELING TRENDS IN CAMBRIDGE, MASS
So…what home design and remodeling approaches are trending in Cambridge?
There are two primary approaches to a major home design and remodel. While it can be made very complicated as a subject, the natural creative process is fundamentally simple. I will cover both here:
Design-Bid-Build is the process that has been introduced over the past 150 years or so whereby you as the client directly hire an architect to draft plans and design your project — to then have it bid out to multiple contractors seeking to win the bid and perform the project. This approach has been generalized as mainstream over the past decades and sold to homeowners, often creating client stress and potential loss of both client funds and time. This approach has many liabilities for the client due in no small part to the fragmented spheres of responsibilities which this system and method creates. There is no single person or entity fully accountable to the client for the entire project’s success.
By default the client is ultimately responsible for both Architect and Builder as well as the ultimate success of the project. Thus one can have impractical and expensive design work, impractical planning, numerous change orders, shoddy craftsmanship, and projects which are off timeline and over budget. In the end, the client can be left damaged. You or a family member or friend may have experienced this in the past. We have many clients come to us after poor experiences with this approach.
Architectural Design-Build (also Design Build) is the natural approach to creation of the built environment and has been used for thousands of years to create many of the beautiful structures of earth. Architectural Design Build is the way to go if you want to save on time and money, reduce stress, and eliminate a fragmented sense of project responsibility in the people working for you. Architectural Design Build is a model that stresses single-source accountability with the creative design, planning, and remodel executed start to finish by one firm.
Architectural Design-Build in Cambridge is currently being turned to by professionals, families, and individuals as the cutting edge of efficiency, aesthetics, practicality, and accountability when it comes to designing and remodeling a home. This approach packages architectural design and interior design services with artisan-level building and remodeling services. This natural synthesis makes for a simple, efficient, and accountable creative process followed by a streamlined and responsible build phase, reducing cost, time of execution, and client stress throughout. With the Architectural Design Build approach, the client is dealing solely with one fully accountable firm.
New England Design and Construction does Architectural Design Build with a specialty focus on sustainable luxury homes. We are extremely mindful of environmental impact and passionate about project efficiency and client comfort.
Here are several examples of beautiful Architectural Design-Build remodels we have done in Cambridge, Massachusetts:
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN BUILD – NEDC CAMBRIDGE SUSTAINABLE DESIGN:
The kitchen and solarium areas were opened up and combined, with the access to the adjacent dining area reconfigured. This doorway was created with an arch and is replicated in another area of the home. The finishes and design chosen for the space have sleek, modern cabinets, but integrates warmer touches from reclaimed white oak details which are seen in the custom L shaped banquette and breakfast nook, as well as the island, and the lighting fixture selections. There are classic details peppered into an otherwise modern design. There was major demolition and structural work to achieve the open space, including re-framing the solarium area and redistributing the structural load from a hidden column. The solarium area allows better connection between the interior and exterior and features planters preserved throughout the project. The cabinets have many storage features, as well as a larger and improved pantry to solve storage issues.
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN BUILD – NEDC CAMBRIDGE SCANDINAVIAN WHOLE HOME BEAUTY:
The Macdonald family finds beauty in Scandinavian minimalist style. This home was a 1300 SF or so single-family home necessitating the need to make the most of the space. Our Designers were able to add a second bath on the second floor so the children were provided their own space distinct from the primary en-suite bath.
First floor: An aesthetic, functional mudroom was created with custom built-in storage. Also created were the following beautiful spaces on the first floor:
- New powder room
- Custom kitchen open to a comfortable and unique family dining space
- A beautiful dining space for the family
- Bespoke glass dividers were designed and installed between rooms to lend division to the space without interjecting full walls–creating a sense of distinction without fragmenting the overall space.
- Embracing sustainability, a beautiful dining room table was crafted by the client using reclaimed wood from the project. NEDC raised the ceiling in the basement to allow for more functional woodworking space–the client’s passion and hobby.
- NEDC added a second bathroom for children and changed the sizes of the bedrooms to a more balanced layout.
Additional Resources from NEDC for Boston Homeowners and Real Estate Professionals:
2022 NEDC CAMBRIDGE AND BOSTON HOME DESIGN & COSTING GUIDE:
NEDC CLIENT VIDEO:
SHORT FILM: THE TRUE MEANING OF AN ARCHITECT: