A Budget Friendly Brownstone Renovation in Brooklyn
In 2009, Dawn Casale and Dave Crofton faced a quandary: With the arrival of their son, Nate, they had outgrown their apartment in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. And though unwilling to stray far from nearby Boerum Hill, where they opened a boutique bakery, One Girl Cookies, in 2005, they were largely immune to the charms of the neighborhood’s brownstones, which they viewed as being long on period detail but short on light and space.
So they set a less-than-realistic goal of finding something close by with an open, loftlike feel. "We gave our realtor a somewhat impossible task of finding us a place that probably didn’t exist," Casale acknowledges. Then they saw a three-story brownstone just a few blocks from their shop. Its location on a corner lot let ample natural light penetrate the building’s core. Even better, it had been completely gutted, giving Casale and Crofton a blank slate on which to create their living space from scratch.
For help, they turned to MADE, the Brooklyn firm that designed their bakery. A team led by MADE principal Ben Bischoff replaced the front-to-back stairway with one that coils beneath a skylight. The move freed space at each end of the house and allowed for an open plan on the main level. The new layout encourages an easy flow of conversation and foot traffic across the dining, kitchen, and living areas.
Bischoff and his crew made ample use of salvaged and surplus materials in the 2,400-square-foot house, creating wiggle room in the budget so Casale and Crofton could afford a few splurges on wallpaper and custom finishes. A product of serendipity and creativity in equal measure, the house hits the elusive sweet spot that these Brooklyn bakers were seeking.
Will Lamb is a writer and editor based in Jersey City, New Jersey. He served as a senior editor at Dwell from 2013 to 2015.