Beer and Ice Cream: not just for breakfast anymore

Several Boston-area brewers have worked out a sweet deal with a local dairy farm. Maple Valley Creamery trades their delious ice cream for spent grain from aMortonDesign clients Night Shift Brewing and Idle  Hands Craft Ales among others. The cows eat the grain, the brewers eat the  ice cream, and the public gets great beer. Everybody wins.

Night Shift Brewing’s Mike Oxton taking an ice cream break.

Night Shift Brewing is firing the burners and staying up late to bring you great beer

The reward for months of hard work and planning is the kind of hard work that these guys live for. Night Shift Brewing has cleared all the hurdles of licensing, code review, and recipe approval and has started their first professional batches in their new space in Everett. Congratulations guys!

This great 360 shot of the brewery shows the three founders hard at work in a session that ended at 4:36am, proving that they take their name seriously.

Raise your glass: Night Shift Brewery construction nearing completion

It has been a big week for the brewers at Night Shift Brewing. First their Massachusetts Farmer-Brewery license was approved.

If you have been following any of the upheaval around this issue you know there were big changes and lots of lively discussion when it seemed that the state licensing agency might change the entire landscape which had allowed Massachusetts to flourish as a center of great beer-making. So this latest license approval is especially wonderful news for Night Shift Brewing and the nano- and micro- and craftbrew loving citizens of our region.

And if all that wasn’t enough, their commercial brewery space is nearing completion. Night Shift Blogging has a great new post about their journey with some nice artistic shots of the aMortonDesign Permit Set on the construction site (thanks for the shout-out guys!).

Our contact during this process was Mike O’Mara, a one-time architecture student who has turned his creative talents to being part of a team that figures out how to combine familiar ingredients in unexpected ways. Consider the Tripel Tangerine Turkey centerpiece of last Thanksgiving to get a sense of their culinary range. And, of course, there is a Taza Stout in the mix since their roots are in Somerville. Looking forward to trying all the Night Shift Brews soon and guessing which unique local ingredients are in the mix.

Old house learns some new tricks

This renovation was undertaken to provide more work, play, and storage space for a growing family. With both parents working from home and caring for an active toddler, every inch of space is valuable and multi-purpose. The existing Living / Dining / Playroom were open to the Kitchen but felt disconnected due to a high peninsula capped with granite. Within the Kitchen storage space was limited and the dark green paint color and cherry cabinets absorbed the ample natural light making the space feel dark and heavy.

We reconfiguring the peninsula to provide a usable work surface of bamboo counter at a lower height. The box shelf above is open to provide display space and allow light to move through. An existing built-in hutch was flipped into the back hallway to serve as linen and towel storage with bookshelves above. This enabled us to extend the peninsula to the wall, providing cut-outs in the baseboard for heat, and gain a full-depth storage cabinet. A custom hinged tabletop will be added to the back of the peninsula to provide additional space for work, crafts, or overflow  seating for large gatherings.

The next step is installation of puck lights below the box shelf and baseboard for the peninsula. Additional scope includes a bench seat with storage below for the Dining Room bay window; installation of a locally designed and manufactured pendant light by Tesselight; and new paint to pull everything together and provide a backdrop for the owners’ eclectic and bold collection of art and found objects.

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.