Boston Brownstone Goes Green

This recently completed renovation updated a Kitchen and 4-season Porch to improve circulation, function, and connection to the rest of the home. Relocating the entry from the Hall to the Dining Room wall allows light  and people to flow naturally between rooms while improving counter  layout and work space. The original entry became a niche for shelves and cabinet for storage and display.

We worked with Terrene of New England to incorporate sustainable  materials such as PaperStone counters, Trend recycled glass mosaic, Cali Bamboo flooring, and Crossville tile. Paints from safecoat and PolyWhey from Vermont Natural Coatings met the owner’s standard for low-VOC and low environmental impact finishes.

Longleaf Lumber was the source for reclaimed  antique oak for the custom reclaimed wood table. Inspired by nautical furniture design, the table is hinged to store against  the exposed brick wall when not in use. The same antique oak was  used for a display shelf which frames the opening between Kitchen and  Porch.

The maple veneer bench is treated with water-based aniline wood dye for rich, saturated color which enhances the natural wood grain. An open shelf below the seat neatly stows bins for plant supplies, recycling, or odds-and-ends. A 10″ deep continuous PaperStone sill provides ample space for plants (and cats) to soak up the sun. With the table down this is a cozy spot for dinner for two or a simple cup of tea. Storing the table against the wall allows friends and family to gather and sit or work at the Kitchen counter which extends into the Porch.

Final photographs by Patrick Rogers Photography. Existing conditions photographed by aMortonDesign.

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Reclaimed wood table inspired by nautical furniture design

The challenge of providing informal eating space and flexible seating in a high-traffic corner is met by a table designed to hinge for storage against the wall. Reclaimed antique oak was obtained locally from Longleaf Lumber. The unique patina is enhanced by a “skip plane” finish on the top. The underside has been sanded for a lighter and more uniform appearance.

A continuous piano hinge secures the tabletop to a block bolted into the existing brick. The tabletop is secured to the wall with a double-jointed hook commonly used for cabinet doors aboard sailing vessels. The leg is attached with a Posi-lock Folding Leg Bracket which locks in place for table support and then again flush against the underside between cross-planks when stored against the wall.

Reclaimed antique oak was also used for a box shelf which spans the existing brick opening between the Kitchen and Porch. Due to the thickness of the plank and the intention to use the shelf for decorative display, no intermediate supports were required to prevent the shelf from “bowing” across the opening.

All the reclaimed wood will be finished with a semi-gloss coat of PolyWhey from Vermont Natural Coatings. The use of recycled whey proteins provides a durable and low-VOC finish and an outlet for whey as a byproduct of local Vermont cheese production.

Super-charge your Prius (or Ford Escape)

If hybrid fuel efficiency isn’t enough eco-consciouness for you there are now plug-in kits to add battery power and life and further reduce fossil fuel consumption. This is just one of the many technological advances presented at the Solar and Wind Expo this past weekend in Marlboro, MA.

ConVerdant is a Concord, NH-based business that provides plug-in conversion kits for some hybrid owners. At the moment they are only compatible with Prius and Ford Escape hybrids but more are in development. Residents of Western MA who are still out of power from the freak October snowstorm may want to look into their plug-out kits which allow the vehicle to act as an emergency generator with minimal fuel consumption.

A plug-in Prius is slated to roll out “around Spring 2012” in 14 states but who knows how long it will be until that is a widely available option. According to the ConVerdant rep at the Expo, their product is compatible with the existing computer software in the Prius and Escape and plugs into a standard residential outlet.

Halloween ready: this new porch is all treat – no trick.

This recently completed front entry porch in Arlington provides a  gracious covered landing for guests as well as a sunny spot for the  owners to enjoy a morning cup of tea.

Two new granite steps connect with the sidewalk and introduce the new walkway. The flagstone modular pavers from Belgard Harscape Mega Lafitt series are set in a bed of stone dust. The decking is mahogany and craftsman style tapered square columns and painted wood trim blend with the existing house style. The owners started a recent dinner party of this landing with a toast to the new porch and the fine craftsmanship of contractor David Picazio of Arlington.

Arlington Front Entry Porch nearly complete

Roof, deck, and low walls are complete and awaiting delivery of columns. Mahogany decking and stair treads add richness and color to the entry. Stone dust on the walkway in preparation for setting of granite pavers.

Brewer’s Row fermenting in Everett

Permit and Construction drawings are complete for Night Shift Brewing, a Somerville-based and Everett-bound microbrewer. Although the space is still raw the installation of tenant walls and doors is underway and the floor has been cleared since photos in early August.

See more recent images and read commentary by Night Shift at their own site. Drawings were handed off yesterday and then we went next door to toast this milestone with the lastest brew from Idle Hands. This new libation is the only form of Patriarchy that I would consider refreshing and is well-worth a trip out to 3 Charlton Street for the weekly growler fill.

Someday soon it will be possible to hit the walls at Metro Rock and then head over to Brewer’s Row in Everett to sample and buy some great up and coming Boston area brews. If you are really smart you’ll move into the Charleston Lofts and not even have to designate a driver for the evening.

Somehow when we weren’t paying attention, Everett, MA became hip and happening.



Kitchen emerges with bamboo flooring, tile, cabinetry, and custom bench installation

Great progress has been made in the Allston Kitchen-Porch renovation.

The bamboo flooring is a rich contrast to the maple cabinets and  Paperstone counters in “chocolate” will soon be installed. The bamboo  floor material will be applied to the toe kick to give the impression  that the floor turns up and the cabinets float above a shadow line of  darker material.

The custom bench is made of maple veneer plywood and solid trim. The clear space below the seat is designed to accomodate baskets for storage. The wood will be finished with a dark aniline dye which will provide a rich saturated color without obscuring the wood grain. A 10″ deep Paperstone sill is installed around the porch to allow the clients many plants to soak up the natural light. Radiant heat has been installed under the tile in front of the bench for supplemental heating and added comfort for cool mornings. The client’s cat will undoubtedly make the most of this feature when not taking advantage of the deep sill for surveying bird activity in the nearby treetops.

Answers to all your sustainable design questions in 60 minutes or less…

aMortonDesign will be presenting at The Solar and Wind Expo on Saturday, November 5, from 11am-12noon. Come check out all the exhibitors and speakers and leave inspired to incorporate sustainable design materials and methods into your next project.

Arlington Front Entry Porch renovation progress photos

Construction is underway for the new Front Entry Porch in Arlington. Check out the existing conditions here:

And see how it looks with the Porch removed and new piers about to be poured to support the new stair and landing. The increased light to the interior will be significant.

Another objective was to make the front door more open and welcoming which will become more clear when the new Porch is framed.