See How a 1,100-Square-Foot Layout Looks in a Brownstone vs. a Bungalow

published May 28, 2023
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2 photos side by side. Left: Front porch of a brownstone in Brooklyn, NY. Right: Front porch of a bungalow in Venice Beach, CA

When cruising Zillow or searching for an apartment to rent, square footage is one of the first stats you look at. In tiny New York apartments, renters find ways to eke out a few extra usable square feet with creative storage solutions, while in spacious countryside homes, whole attics can go unused. But even in homes of identical size, not every square foot is alike. To get a better appreciation of how different the same square footage can appear, I took a look at two 1,100-square-foot homes: one a brownstone in Brooklyn, and one a beachy bungalow in Venice, California. 

In Brooklyn, this 19th-century condo comprises two bedrooms, a bathroom, a joint kitchen and dining room, and a grand living room. Over on the West Coast, the same square footage makes up a single-story standalone home including two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living and dining room, and kitchen. Although the home is legally 880 square feet, the owners have added an extra bedroom to the front and tastefully converted a single-car garage into an office. 

Credit: Compass

The condo’s front door enters into the 31×13-foot living room which is, in a word, glorious. Ornate crown molding wraps around the 12-foot ceilings, while white ash wood laid in a chevron pattern adorns the floors. The height and brightness of the room makes it look particularly cavernous, and the built-in shelves along one wall — positioned across from a marble fireplace and complete with a library ladder — carve out room for storage without cluttering the clean sight lines.

The California living room, meanwhile, is a combination dining room. The look is warm and simple with hardwood floors, pale gray walls, bright pops of artwork, and lots of sunlight streaming through the windows. 

Credit: Compass

Through the brownstone’s sliding pocket doors into the kitchen, the wood floors give way to herringbone brick. Their clay tones offset the bright white cabinets and marble island, blending a natural look with contemporary design. Across from the island is a roomy dining area with space enough for a dining table for several of your closest friends, canopied by more soaring ceilings and anchored by another marble fireplace.

The bungalow’s kitchen is delightful and more petite, scrapping an island for a dining vignette with barstool seating, light yellow cabinetry, and white appliances in place of stainless steel. My favorite feature, though, is the black-and-white tile flooring that gives the whole room a cozy, kitschy, and cool look. 

Credit: Compass

Both bedrooms in the Brooklyn home feel bright and modern, thanks to white ash flooring, crisp gray-white walls, and tall ceilings. 

The Venice cottage takes on a warmer look with soothing green walls in one bedroom and semi-sheer white curtains in all three, making for sunny sanctuaries that call out for houseplants and breezy linens.

Although the entrance to the brownstone is enclosed by a fenced-in front garden, the California home has a private outdoor space to itself. Complete with a retro orange chiminea and seating aplenty in the enclosed front yard (plus a narrow deck along the side of the home, perfect for repotting plants or sipping on a glass of white wine), the yard is a second living space in a warm climate — and that’s not even included in the square footage. 

Credit: Compass

But the West Coast bungalow owners renovated the home to maximize the interior footage, too. Just take a look at the garage, which is hardly recognizable as a stall for cars. Streaming with sunlight and furnished with a rug, art, mood lighting, and seating, it embraces that precious square footage and converts it into a creative workspace. Indeed, these two homes share the same size — but display very different floor plans.