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What would one of Brooklyn’s leading architects do with a Warren Place Mews townhouse, those iconic but small Gothic workingmen’s cottages built by Alfred Tredway White in 1879? Three stories high but narrow and only two rooms deep, the houses challenge any designer to find space for an adequate number of bathrooms without sacrificing bedrooms or parlors. We’ve also never seen one with any original finishes or even a mantel.

Everyone wants one but no one can figure out what to do with them.

Architect Elizabeth Roberts is known for her modern-meets-traditional renovations of Brooklyn brownstones. In this case, documented in a New York Times story, she restored some of the historic charm with an old-fashioned wood staircase with turned spindles and two salvage marble mantels.

She squeezed in two bedrooms and two bathrooms, although we’re not quite sure how since the article doesn’t include a floor plan.

Most remarkable — and something for other homeowners to consider — is the trick of turning a powder room, big enough for only sink and toilet, into a shower with full-room waterproofing and shower apparatus on the wall and overhead.

She also maximized storage with built-in bookcases big enough to hold the owners’ record collection and record player.

We’re guessing room for a full size bathroom on the top floor was carved out of the second bedroom and the top of the stair.

The renovation cost $550,000. Click through to the New York Times story for photos. What do you think of the design? Would you adapt any of these ideas in your own space?

Spies Like Us [NY Times]
Photo by Corcoran

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We get pretty excited whenever one of these adorable but tiny Warren Mews cottages comes up for sale, since it doesn’t happen often. Unfortunately, this one has lost its original staircase, floors and baseboards, but the floor plan is well designed.

Space is always a challenge in these workingmen’s cottages, built in 1878 by visionary philanthropist Alfred Tredway White, because they have only two small rooms on each floor. This house has rather cleverly turned the bottom and top floors into bedroom floors, each with one bedroom and one bathroom. (The open top floor is currently being used as a sewing studio.) The rear room of the garden floor functions as a mudroom-slash-laundry room, and the kitchen is on the parlor floor.

We could do without the exposed brick and beams, which belong in a loft, but those can be fixed. There’s an open house Sunday, November 9, from 1 to 3 pm.

The ask is $1,400,000. Do you think they’ll get it?

8 Warren Place [Corcoran] GMAP

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This listing wins the prize for our favorite of all the Warren Place townhouses we’ve seen because of its wealth of original detail, mostly original layout, and a very nicely updated kitchen. The built-ins are great too. But as is the case with all these quaint yet teensy tiny one-time workers’ cottages (similar to a Philadelphia trinity), where to place the indoor plumbing presents a conundrum. We think they’ve made the best of a tight situation by locating a bath with shower on the ground floor and a toilet in an upstairs closet with a tiny sink just outside. The setup is not ideal for kids or roommates, but for a single person or a couple, it could work perfectly. The last time the townhouse sold was in 1977, according to PropertyShark. Now the ask is $1,400,000. Think it’s worth it?

22 Warren Place [Brooklyn Bridge Realty] GMAP

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One of the tiny neo-Gothic Warren Place workers cottages built by Alfred Tredway White sold for $1,300,000 after only three weeks on the market, according to Prime Manhattan Residential, which acted as the buyer’s agent. No. 2 Warren Place closed on June 6. That’s the same price No. 1 Warren Place sold for in May of last year after being on the market for six months before entering contract. You may recall it was asking an unprecedented $1,475,000. The ask at No. 2 was  $1,350,000.