This Airy Townhouse Is Actually Only 11 Feet Wide

A new architecture firm’s first project: an extremely narrow Fort Greene home.

Photo: Nicole Franzen
Photo: Nicole Franzen

Architects Tal Schori and Rustam-Marc Mehta, who founded their firm, GRT Architects, in 2015, have been friends since the third grade. They went on to attend the same university and architecture schools before setting out on their own careers: Schori working for Deborah Berke Partners, most recently, and Mehta for Cesar Pelli. But after seven years, they decided to go into business together, setting up shop above a gin distillery in Brooklyn. Here, their first residential project, the renovation of a very narrow townhouse in Fort Greene.

“Maybe starting with an exception was a blessing in disguise,” architect Tal Schori says of the townhouse’s narrow footprint — only 11 feet wide — coupled with the fact that its staircase was plopped in the middle of the building. The charming entrance foyer, seen here before the renovation, also needed some perking up. Photo: Courtesy of GRT Architects
GRT changed the rectangular vestibule ceiling into an arched space to echo the entry doors. They worked with Calico Wallpaper to customize an ombré design that morphs from orange to lavender. “This was not only our first residential project,” Schori says, “but also our first renovation.” Photo: Nicole Franzen
The narrowness of the house is evident in the living room, shown here before GRT got to work. Photo: Courtesy of GRT Architects
The room comes to life with a few simple additions: The built-in window seat conceals the old radiator and offers additional cozy seating, along with a BDDW sofa and Hans Wegner lounge chairs. The pendant lamp is Areti Mimosa and the coffee table is the Hagit Pincovici Eclipse X Table. Photo: Nicole Franzen
Here, the original staircase. Photo: Courtesy of GRT Architects
Natural light filters down from a skylight that Schori says “was existing but illuminated only the staircase, not the rooms on either side of it.” The most important change they made, he says, “was to enclose both sides of the entire stair in a fluted glass and steel partition.” Photo: Ithai Schori
This rather forlorn-looking space off the kitchen downstairs in the basement served as a makeshift dining room. The kitchen was the one area that GRT didn’t renovate. Photo: Courtesy of GRT Architects
Forlorn no more! As the area gets no natural light, GRT gave the space a fresh coat of white paint to freshen up the walls and installed Roll & Hill’s Bluff City pendant lights. The leafy-green density of Papermills’ wallpaper on the back wall and doors, spiffed up with E.R. Butler hardware, changes the space completely. The table and chairs are from Design Within Reach. Photo: Nicole Franzen
Wainscoting is one of those transformative details that takes a room into another era. Here GRT added it to the master bedroom walls and gave it definition with Farrow & Ball paint. The color appears to vary as the northeast light changes during the day. The bedside lights are by Gubi, while the bed is from Design Within Reach. Photo: Nicole Franzen
The master bath was a bit of a dour affair before the architects got their hands on it. Photo: Courtesy of GRT Architects
Gorgeous round tiles from Waterworks brighten the room and are used in an inventive zigzag pattern, defining the sink and bathing areas. The Brizo fixtures punctuate in black. The lights are from Areti Ilios. Photo: Nicole Franzen
This room was a languishing diamond in the rough, destined to be the couple’s daughter’s bedroom. Those little dormer windows held promise. Photo: Courtesy of GRT Architects
The transformation came about thanks to a good helping of Farrow & Ball paint covering the floor, Ferm Living wallpaper, and a buttercup-yellow Saarinen Womb Chair opposite the Oeuf crib and custom Irving Feller curtains, which made those dormer windows come to life. Photo: Nicole Franzen
The jewel in the crown here may just be one of the sweetest kids’ bathrooms, ever. It’s a small room embellished with Daltile Penny Tile used in two tones. The fire-engine-red faucet from Vola echoes the orange-painted Chiaozza custom A-frame shelf unit. The mini Glo-Ball light is from Flos. Photo: Nicole Franzen
This Airy Townhouse Is Only 11 Feet Wide