Robert Downes 2/23/09
Sara Dakoske looks like shes having the time of her life at her job, and why not? Her day is spent designing imaginative, creative kitchens and baths for new residents at Building 50, the massive renovation project at the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City.
I thought it would be awesome to get involved with the Building 50 development and its been very interesting so far, she says. Designing a kitchen or a bath here involves keeping the historical feel of the building, and also working with exposed conduit and duct work, the old windows and the dimensions of each space.
For those not in the know, Building 50 is the former Northern Michigan Asylum just south of Munson Medical Center. The building has been wildly popular with condo purchasers, but offers significant challenges, considering that its small spaces and wide-open dormitory areas were once the home of mental patients. There are 14-foot ceilings throughout the residential areas, which occupy the second, third and attic floors of the building, as well as the aforementioned exposed ductwork and conduit.
But Dakoske, 27, finds the challenges of working with Building 50 to be one of the most interesting aspects of her job. So far, shes completed roughly 30 kitchen and bath projects at Building 50, working with three other designers as part of the Shoreline Kitchen & Bath team.
A 2000 graduate of Traverse City West High School, Dakoske studied interior design at Michigan State University. Upon graduating in 2004, she landed a job in Rochester, working with a specialty lumber and building center. One of her specialties there was working with fine cabinetry.
With the economy down in the Detroit area, I decided to move back up north, she recalls. I had known about Building 50 since the time I was a child, and it was great to get involved in its renovation.
Her job involves working with numerous contractors, all of whom deal with the engineering concerns of working with a 124-year-old building with walls ranging from 12-18 inches thick.
Then there are the spaces themselves: Dakoske has created mini kitchens and baths to fit into 260-square-foot efficiency condos which sell for $60,000. One such unit features a loft above the kitchen and a bookshelf that folds into a Murphy bed.
At the top end, shes had the luxury of working with a 3,800-square-foot unit that sold for $500,000.
There are definitely people who want to go very contemporary in their approach and then there are those who want a traditional, historical feeling, she says. Everyone wants a space thats homey and feels like their own.