A Cobble Hill family enlisted Brooklyn design-build firm MADE to renovate a brownstone using surplus and salvaged materials for a budget-conscious patina.
The island and cabinets, fashioned from remilled Douglas-fir beams salvaged from upstate New York, sport inexpensive drawers from Ikea. The Carrara marble for the sink surround also came from the firm’s warehouse, from a section of slab orphaned from an earlier commission. A Viking chimney wall hood tops a free-standing range by Bluestar.
A few big ideas—and some careful workmanship—transformed the very small kitchen of a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment into an expansive space suited to a young professional with a taste for design.
The kitchen renovation was architects Stefanie Brechbuehler and Robert Andrew Highsmith first job together, and with a construction budget of just $17,000, it was not easy. “This project required a lot of love. There was a lot of research involved,” says the Swiss-born Brechbuehler. “The way to keep a project’s cost down is to have really good communication.”
It took just five months and $4,000 for Serban Ionescu, Jim Dreitlein, and Justin Smith to build the warren of five sleeping units inside a Greenpoint, Brooklyn, live/work loft that was selected for being big and affordable. (They slept on mattresses scattered across the floor during construction.)
Named for the abstract faces the architects found in the front facade, the Miner and a Major’s painted oriented strand board (OSB) exterior conceals five small bedrooms, each outfitted with a desk, bed, and storage space. Idiosyncratic openings and operable skylights offer ventilation and bring illumination from the loft’s large industrial windows into each cell.
Architect Jeff Sherman of Delson or Sherman Architects has more guts and gall than your average home renovator. In 2000, strapped by a “very finite budget,” he bought a wrecked row house in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Over the next ten years, working as his own general contractor and builder, he transformed the building into a high-design home, all for about $100 per square foot.
“I’m a little wary of the construction-on-a-dime myth trumpeted in the press,” says Sherman. “Construction is ridiculously expensive. But yeah, I wound up doing a house for next to nothing.”
In the scrappy neighborhood of East New York, the design firm Della Valle Bernheimer built five buildings for low-income homebuyers.
The homes were built for $108 per square foot using cedar paneling and corrugated aluminum arranged horizontally to correspond with the vinyl siding of neighboring homes.