Dwell Profiles a Budget-Conscious Boerum Hill Reno


Dwell recently profiled a beautiful reno of a Boerum Hill townhouse owned by the founders of One Girl Cookies (also in the neighborhood). After searching for a home that felt open and lofty, the couple settled on an already-gutted corner brownstone a few blocks away from their shop. They put the design firm MADE to work, who relied heavily on salvaged materials to create pieces like a kitchen island and cabinets from remilled Douglas-fir beams. (Another great idea to cut costs on display in the bathroom: using slim sections of tile, previously cut for transitions and corners, to create an irregular wall pattern.) Splurges like the hand-finished wallpaper in the entryway are well-placed throughout the home. Like it? Love it?
A Budget Friendly Brownstone Renovation in Brooklyn [Dwell]
Photo by Matthew Williams via Dwell

69 Comment

  • No to soviet-bunker style bathroom, but aside from that nice and clean and ‘natural’ looking -

  • in reality without the actual $ spent there is no way to really judge. If they re-did the whole house for $125k its brilliant. If it was $400k then its awful

    Not a fan of most of it…it looks ‘budget’

  • looks like a nice, clean reno, not over the top. refined in a Ikea-meets-Wolf-range sort of way. But it reminds me why I canceled my subscription to Dwell: It’s not realistic for me to look at a million-dollar starter home that needs 500k in renovations. They just don’t exist in where I’ll be potentially spending the rest of my life and I don’t plan on being a janitor to my possessions till I retire.

  • no-permits

    this is a brownstone? i would have never known. it looks like a cheesy modernist-stupid-industrial-country house. way to destroy a brownstone.

  • I really like the laser cut screen, and how it was mounted as a sliding door.

    I don’t get the complaint about “budget.”

    Modern clean lines and minimalism often don’t look as expensive as a more traditional look, depending on how it’s done. They spent a lot on some of those bespoke details, and anyone who buys furniture at ABC has some bucks to spend. They may have saved on some tile and Ikea fixtures, but this isn’t a budget house.

    OK, you can certainly spend more, but this isn’t a cheap reno.

  • Does it actually list the reno budget? I didn’t see it!

  • The bathroom is freaking horrible. The grout lines would make me want to puke. I felt dizzy even looking at it.

    I rather have more counter space than have double sinks, which to me are totally un-necessary. I don’t want to share the bathroom with anyone. If you need a sink that badly, there is the kitchen sink. Besides that bathroom doesn’t look like 2 people should be in there at the same time anyway.

    I do not like the exposed duct work. Other than the table and chair area, Not really loving it.

    actually had to look at it again, now I realize the tile in the bathroom are all different sizes, now I really hate it.

    Does not look like home i would want to be in. It is very cold looking, and personality less.

    basically, I hate it.

  • daveinbedstuy

    Some of you people have no class and more importantly, no manners. I’d love to see what sort of dumps you live in.

    Besides, their cookies are great and none of you could even come close to that sort of creativity.

  • It doesnt look budget to me because it is minimalist it looks budget because the kitchen cabinets look unfinished, because painting all the brick white and then adding a couple of ikea shelves looks cheap to me, as do the floors which look more like linoleum than the wood I assume they are (this could be the photography).

    Anyway my point is, it all depends on the budget. They are touting this as an affordable renovation. If it was truly affordable than my criticism maybe stupid (if they got their house this nice for 125k for example then I am totally wrong) but since there is no published cost, I am assuming this isnt really all that budget and then in that case…it isnt all that nice,

  • Oh and exposed HVAC is fine in some restaurant decor or possibly some 10K sq ft loft but here it is simply awful

  • brooklynbemused

    “rather have more counter space than have double sinks, which to me are totally un-necessary”
    You either don’t have kids or you are a dad. I haven’t cleaned my teeth alone in the morning in years. I can totally see why mothers of young children want a double sink.

  • BoerumHill

    Love it. Very beautiful home.

    re: exposed ductwork – HELLO

    You want central air in a 130 year old house, you have to use external ducts. You could shroud it in drywall or leave it as is. Personally I love the look, and anyone who has seen the bulky alternative should realize it’s a no-brainer.

    • Incorrect. We installed a central air system during our renovation with no exposed ductwork nor any hidden behind dropped ceilings, soffits or drywall. Our architects, Baxt and Ingui (who I recommend) were adamant about this.

      We did not do a gut renovation, either. For the top floor, the ducts were dropped through the roof from the main compressor unit and into the walls. For the bottom two floors, we installed an air handler in the cellar and then distributed the air up through ducts in the wall in the middle of the brownstone and then to each room. The system works great.

      The renovation is not my style, but without the costs, its not clear how budget conscious (and then of course it depends on whose budget).

  • expert_textpert

    I think it looks great!

    But I’ll agree this isn’t a “budget-conscious” reno.
    A townhouse budget-conscious reno doesn’t have:
    -radiant heating
    - designer light fixtures
    - hand-finished wallpaper
    - ductwork
    -custom made screen
    -furniture from abc (outlet store)

    A budget-conscious reno has:
    - the existing radiators
    - home depot light fixtures
    - existing 50 year old wallpaper or paint the walls
    - AC units in the windows that you take out every winter
    - old wood doors that you found on the street and hinge together to use as a screen
    - hand me down furniture for relatives and friends

    • Pains me to agree with ET to no end, but I actually really like all the aspects of the budget-conscious reno ideas she posted, except for the Home Depot light fixtures. My old house had all HD light fixtures, but this time around I couldn’t find any at HD that I liked – a couple from Lowe’s, but the rest at lampsplus.com, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware.

    • Expert_texpert – they bought a shell. I’m still curious about what they spent to finish it. I suspect it wasn’t as budget-y as “budget” might imply, I say having just done a “budget” reno on our house. But I like the space. I saw it in Dwell a few weeks ago.

  • expert_textpert

    I’ve been thinking about doing the chalkboard paint.
    But i’m afraid my kid will then think that all the walls are for writing on.

  • daveinbedstuy

    I’m bored with this storm. Anyone want to go drinking. No kids allowed.

  • expert_textpert

    I love the exposed ductwork. I think it works in this house. It won’t work in a house with heavy mouldings and period furnishings.

  • expert_textpert

    I think the concept of the white tile bathroom is great. And I like the different sizes. I just think, they should have used other tile colors also.
    The all white with dark grout, makes it look like a prison cell.

  • cgar – I havent seen any hateful comments but let me say (for my own criticism) ….if you are going to have a national magazine come and do an article about your renovation of a million dollar brownstone (much less tout it as ‘budget’), then people are going to offer there opinion and just because those opinions arent all the aggrandizing praise and envy that the owners obviously crave, it isnt classless or wrong.

    Actually the way I was raised putting your super expensive home (which is fine btw) in a national magazine (especially with your name) is actually bragging and really classless.

    • Look above at lalaland’s and no-permits’s and stargazer’s comments: Soviet-bunker? Cheesy modernist-stupid-industrial-country house? Freaking horrible? Perhaps you and I have a different definition of “hateful”.

      • unduly Harsh yes – but they are directly related to the house – so I think hateful isnt appropriate adjective.
        Again – you put your house out there like -’Look at me and my stuff and my great taste’…its inevitable some people are going to disagree.

  • This is a beautiful renovation, but between the purchase of a corner house in Boerum Hill (some of the most expensive real estate in the entire city) and these so-called budget renovations she must be charging $100 a cookie!

    She is either a trust funder cashing in some capital, or has got a husband in financial services.

    In other words, this is not the real world; typical Dwell.

  • Dang, you can own a little cookie shop and make enough coin to buy and rennovate a brownstone?! I’m in the wrong biz.

  • brooklynbemused

    ET – I did the chalkboard thing on closet doors in my house. Everyone comments on what a great idea it is, but honestly my kids used it for about 3 minutes. It has been marginally useful for a list of long term house projects, but I could have used a piece of paper for that.

    • expert_textpert

      how old are your kids?
      my big concern would be the chalk dust getting everywhere.
      My son (2.6 yrs old) loves to ‘draw’. we have a white board that he uses.

      I think the concept of the chalkboard paint is cool, but not sure it’ll get much use here also.

  • BoerumHill

    Envy is best defined as a resentful emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior quality, achievement or possession and wishes that the other lacked it.”[1] Bertrand Russell said envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness.[2] Not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his envy, but they also wish to inflict misfortune on others

  • brooklynbemused

    ET – when I painted the doors, they were 3 and 5. On the rare occasions they chalked on the doors, it created a lot of dust. If you choose to go this route, put a strip of wooden trim at the bottom to act as a ledge. Better yet, get the free standing chalkboard from ikea that has a chalk side and a dry erase side, plus you can have a roll of paper attached. My kids still use that 6 years in.

  • Looks nice enough but painted hardwood floors make me want to barf.

  • I like it and I love their cookies.

  • Havemeyer

    I like the painted brick… as long as it was existing brick they had to work with, and not plaster they took down to get the brick to paint. I think there are a lot of good ideas in this reno. Real people ideas. The fact that it’s in a house that would probably sell for $3 million dollars makes the budget thing sad, as previously noted. But this is NY. It is what it is.

    I think the best design choices come from taking what you have on hand, or taking a few things you really like and building on them. This house does that. BTW, how do you hand finish wallpaper? Can I do it?

  • I’m curious about a couple of things – mainly what the insulation and noise situation is with all of that exposed brick? Even with insulation blown in to my walls near areas with two windows, it’s still pretty drafty. And the noise issue – in my building, I have a plaster wall covering the brick wall, and I can hear word for word conversations from my neighbors (I suspect they took down the plaster or sheet rock, and just have the brick). I would be wary of using so much of the building’s brick walls as interior, main walls like this.

    Other than that, the house looks nicely done – in a minimalist style. It’s not for me, personally – too much white, and too many hard surfaces – but if you like that aesthetic, then this is a dream home. On a budget though – would love to know what Dwell’s idea of a “budget” is.

  • BoerumHill

    This was one of my favorite listings from 5 years ago:

    09/17/2007 $1.75M
    04/03/2008 Listed @ $2.495M
    04/10/2008 Price decreased by 5% to $2.375M
    05/02/2008 Price decreased by 3% to $2.295M
    06/06/2008 Price decreased by 4% to $2.195M
    07/01/2008 Price decreased by 5% to $2.095M
    10/09/2008 Price decreased by 5% to $1.995M
    01/14/2009 Price decreased by 10% to $1.795M
    05/29/2009 Price decreased by 11% to $1.595M
    10/06/2009 Sold $1.4M

    Between purchase and list, the previous would-be-flipper got approvements from LPC and stripped the interior to the studs, replacing them with the steel studs, but work stop due to financing issues. Dude that sold it to the bakers took it in the shorts big time.

    Lovely house with cherry blossoms along the south side. 3-car garage – the previous owners had plans to build out another 1,100 square feet above it,but I don’t think that ever came to fruition. I liked the original exterior color better but what they chose looks fine.

  • Anyone know who makes that light fixture over the dining room table?

  • When we renovated, our architects warned us about exposed brick for insulation/sound issues. We had no plaster worth saving so put sheetrock!

  • it’s sunny and looks like a happy place to live in. it’s not what i’d do probably, but i think they did a good job. obviously not everyone likes tons of dark wood and heavy detailing.

  • Beautiful. But budget conscious? Sure, they skipped spending money on thermal insulation, but the heating and cooling bills will be piling up. At least we’re frying the planet in style.