If you’re a bibliophile who loves cats, prepare to swoon over this light-filled row home in New York City. Barker Freeman Design Office (BFDO Architects) transformed a row house in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn into the House for Booklovers and Cats. The renovated dwelling was built with materials recycled from the original architecture wherever possible, and features an expansive built-in book wall and special cat accommodations.
The clients, a pair of poets, asked BFDO Architects to infuse color and light into their old Brooklyn row house, while creating a live/work arrangement with room for their extensive collection of art and books. The literary couple also requested that the renovation include special circulation for their two shy cats that like to hide in high and small places.
The architects began the renovation process by sprucing up the facade and painting the front door a vibrant shade of red. They gutted the interior—originally dark, musty, and narrow—and knocked down walls to create an open and airy space and repainted it with bright white walls. Full-height rear windows and a skylight flood the interior with natural light. The main floor comprises the 20-by-50-by-10-feet tall primary living space with an eye-catching full-length bookshelf on one end integrated with special pieces that allow the cats to circulate through the room. “Shelves project to create steps for the cats to climb up to a continuous open ledge where they can observe activities from a high vantage point,” said the architects. “Trap doors allow the cats access to rooms above at either end of the house.”
In addition to the living room, the main floor includes a media room, dining area, and kitchen. The upstairs houses the studio with a balcony, as well as a concealed skylit “nest” built from timber recycled from the home. The bottommost level is a “cat-free zone” comprising a workout space and guest suite. Playful pops of color punctuate the modern space, from the yellow-hued columns and melon-popsicle shelf niches. Materials in the home were recycled when possible; the architects reused the existing paneled wood doors, doorknobs, and hardware, and also refinished the pine flooring.
Photo credit: Francis Dzikowski/OTTO