Dezeen Magazine

Switchback House by L/AND/A

Eight Brooklyn townhouses that make creative use of small spaces

Brooklyn townhouses provide a blank canvas for creative renovations. US reporter Bridget Cogley selects eight diverse designs that include boldly coloured cabinets, pathways for cats and a huge slanted window.

The New York City borough stretches over 70 square miles with neighbourhoods including upscale Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg to more upcoming areas of Gowanus and Bedford–Stuyvesant.

A number of Brooklyn townhouses have been given new life in recent years, ranging from delicate upgrades that make the most of existing features to much more drastic overhauls. Read on for the full section:

Switchback House by L/AND/A

Switchback House by L/AND/A in Bedford–Stuyvesant

Shane Neufeld of Light and Air Architecture (L/AND/A) overhauled a three-storey row house to create himself a home. A new structural stairwell and steel beams were added to the structure, linking together the whole interior with the addition of painted white brick walls, wood volumes and pale wood floors.

A skylight was added at the top level, while a kitchen overlooks a rear garden with a large window and a sliding glass door. A central wooden unit separates the kitchen from a living room at the front while bedrooms are located upstairs.

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Prospect Lefferts Garden Townhouse by GRT Architects

Prospect Lefferts Garden Townhouse by GRT Architects in Prospect Lefferts Garden

Once a cramped and dark home, this townhouse was revitalised when GRT Architects opened up walls and reorganised the internal flow of rooms. Spanning four levels, the residence contains many original details like window moulding, intricate wall panels, parquet wood floors and bannisters.

Much of the house is white but green cabinetry enlivens the kitchen, and a softer lime shade features on storage closets upstairs. A new, white spiral staircase leads down to a lower level that joins a garden.

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Extended Townhouse by Vondalwig

Extended Townhouse by VonDalwig Architecture in Park Slope

VonDalwig Architecture retrofitted this townhouse in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighbourhood by extending at the rear and gutting the interiors almost completely. The result is a contemporary home with skylights, grey stone floors and black nets for railings upstairs.

A key feature is a workroom and children's playroom that occupies the double-height addition.

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Prismatic Bay Townhouse by Peterson Rich Office

Prismatic Bay Townhouse by PRO in Williamsburg

Located in Williamsburg, this townhouse is hardly a renovation project. Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich of PRO overhauled the original building and ripped down almost everything to create this new structure, which features an angled glass wall overlooking a quiet, residential street.

Other aspects of the home are a rooftop terrace and a patio off of a master suite. Upon entering is an open-plan dining room and kitchen, and a living room is in the rear. The two floors above comprise bedrooms and workspaces.

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House for Booklovers and Cats by BFDO Architects

House for Booklovers and Cats by BFDO Architects in Windsor Terrace

This two-storey townhouse was designed for a couple who loves cats and books. Barker Freeman Design Office (BFDO) included details like pathways, crawl spaces and hidden nooks for the felines. Another focal point of the project is the floor-to-ceiling windows that clad the black of the home.

The local firm was not shy with colour, using pink, orange and red to enliven the living area and green tiles and a soft yellow pillar elsewhere. Additional details are a painting and writing studio on the second floor.

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Brooklyn Row House 1 by Office of Architecture

South Slope Townhouse by Office of Architecture in South Slope

Office of Architecture (OA) was tasked to create a family home in this slender property near Brooklyn's Prospect Park, in the neighbourhood of South Slope. The property was completely overhauled and expanded a for a jewellery designer, architect and their two kids, and that family had lived there for eight years.

The studio doubled the size of the home on its narrow plot by adding two floors onto the original two-storey building. The top level accommodates a rooftop master suite and a renovated cellar. On the main level, a dining area is situated along a corridor that separates a kitchen and a living room.

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Coil + Drift and Cold Picnic style renovated Prospects Heights Townhouse

Prospects Heights Townhouse by Hatchet Design Build in Prospect Heights

Brooklyn build-design firm Hatchet renovated this 19th-century townhouse in Prospect Heights by painting historic moulding a crisp white and preserving original fishbone floors.

Fellow local design studios Coil + Drift and Cold Picnic were selected to choose furniture, fabrics and lighting for the home, which features several pieces from their collections. These art-like and structural pieces enliven the minimal residence.

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Fort Greene Townhouse by GRT Architects in Fort Greene

GRT Architects overhauled this townhouse in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighbourhood by installing a fluted glass stairwell with purple trim to bring natural light into the centre of the home via a window on the roof.

The three-storey home measures 11 feet (3.4 metres) wide, about the width of a parking spot, yet the local studio worked around this restriction to create a cosy yet fun residence that includes several intimate spaces for lounging and entertaining.

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