new york city house homeowners standing on the stoop outside their home
Photo: Wendell T. Webber

Squeezing the Most Out of a Small Space

Urban living for young families is on the rise, but with it comes a need to think creatively about making the most of limited space. Karen Shen and Kevin Costello loved the extraordinary craftsmanship of their four-story 1904 Renaissance Revival brownstone in Brooklyn, New York, site of the current This Old House TV project.

But to save money, the couple is renting out one and a half floors of the house, leaving about 1,500 square feet of narrow living space for them and their three boys. "In New York City terms, this is a huge apartment," says Karen. "But with our growing family, we needed it to feel even bigger." Squeezing a family of five into a two-floor apartment posed several logistical challenges, but they managed to make a compact space feel like a roomy home. Here are a few of their best solutions for making a small house feel bigger.

Architect: Susanne Lyn, RA; Brooklyn, NY; 718-941-8596
Plumbing/HVAC: Aladdin Plumbing, Brooklyn, NY; 718-783-4621
Electrical Contractor: Super-Charged Electric, Staten Island, NY; 718-981-7173
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