When Stephen Staples comes across an ancient ash can or a board stripped of its nails, he studies it as if it’s the Mona Lisa. What appear to the common eye to be scraps are seen by Stephen for what they truly are—the building materials of early New England homesteads and factories. With his family, Stephen repurposes the salvaged materials into handcrafted kitchen tables, headboards, armoires, and benches.
“All this stuff is from somewhere special. … You look at the piece, you see the history, you know what went on," he says. "They say the piece can’t talk. They do talk, you just need to know how to listen.” For those not fluent in the language of reclaimed materials, Stephen includes a certificate of authenticity with each piece that details its age and probable history, including which pilgrims stored their socks in it. For his meticulous handiwork and passion for history, Stephen has been featured on This Old House and WCVB's Chronicle and in Design New England magazine and the Boston Herald.
Over seven years, the Boston String Quartet has vibrated strings in collaboration with artists such as John Mayer and the Boston Ballet, stirred the air molecules at Symphony Hall and PBS, and performed by invitation for former President George H.W. Bush. With this deal, eighth-note connoisseurs can wrap their eardrums around the quartet's dulcet tones as they present "Xibus," an evening of contemporary and classical that marks the zenith of a two-day workshop collaborating with Finneytown High School orchestra students. Over the course of the evening program, the quartet and the students will cajole their chordophones into ringing out in harmonious arrangements of music by Carlos Santana, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Bill Gates's new Viking-punk band, as well as performing original compositions by members of Boston String Quartet.
When The Original Chimney Sweep first opened in 1976, founder Dennis Arseneau could be found gracing rooftops and sweeping away soot while dressed to the nines in a top hat and tails. Today, he's retired the Dick Van Dyke number and lets his service record speak for itself. Over the course of 30 years, the Arseneau family has reaped more than 56,000 loyal customers across southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island thanks to Dennis's detail-oriented approach to service, which includes offering free estimates and keeping homes free of sootprints. Beyond inspecting flues of all shapes and sizes, his team can inspect and clean dryer vents, oil- and gas-burning appliances, and carbon monoxide detectors, and even offers a selection of fireplace accessories, such as screens, grates, and kindling made from handwritten love letters.
Since 2000, Landscape Depot has transformed the landscape of Greater Boston backyard by backyard, supplying everything from fertile mulch and soil to stone pathways and fountains. Technicians help install walls, veneers, and stairs from both natural and engineered stone, and trucks haul yards of mulch straight to homes. The staff also holds regular do-it-yourself seminars, reviewing various projects so homeowners don't have to rely on the shoddy advice of garden gnomes.
Furniture from more than 15 national and international sources fills Northeast Furniture Direct, a store that sells home furnishings at factory-direct prices. Shoppers can peruse memory-foam mattresses, leather sofas, formal dining sets, and more, all still wrapped in their factory packaging and bearing their manufacturers' full warranties. Each week, the store announces its public business hours; patrons can also visit during scheduled one-on-one appointments.