Row houses and condos aren't generally known for their bright and airy interiors, a necessary evil (or so it's said) of attached housing, except for these two projects. With innovative solutions drawn from outside the attached realm, both of them sidestepped conventional wisdom and made the most of their tight sites. In their lofts in San Francisco or their townhomes in Alexandria, Va., the owners feel like they are living in detached dwellings, boosting the value of their living environment, as well as their properties.

Project: The Lofts at Haight Street, San Francisco; Entrant/Architect: Tanner Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, San Francisco; Builder: Stokes, Russell, Hayden, Berkeley, Calif.

SIDE-YARD STORY: Featuring private entrance porches and courtyards akin to Charleston, S.C.–style homes, The Courtyard Homes at Old Town Village (above and right) in Alexandria, Va., a grand award winner in 1998, brought an extensive natural light source to the interior spaces of attached townhomes, giving them the appearance of detached houses and generating a profit that exceeded projections by 20 percent.
SIDE-YARD STORY: Featuring private entrance porches and courtyards akin to Charleston, S.C.–style homes, The Courtyard Homes at Old Town Village (above and right) in Alexandria, Va., a grand award winner in 1998, brought an extensive natural light source to the interior spaces of attached townhomes, giving them the appearance of detached houses and generating a profit that exceeded projections by 20 percent.

Project: The Courtyard Homes at Old Town Village, Alexandria, Va.; Entrant/Architect/Land planner: Lessard Architectural Group, Alexandria; Builder: Eakin/Youngentob Associates, Arlington, Va.

CENTER CUT: The Lofts at Haight Street (top) in San Francisco, a merit award winner in 1996, feature a center courtyard between two rows of 10 attached condos, skylights, and an abundance of reflective steel panels and glass (some of which was reclaimed from the site's original structure) to leverage light into the project, as well as reduce the buildings' overall mass. At $95,000 a unit, the project sold out in a month.
CENTER CUT: The Lofts at Haight Street (top) in San Francisco, a merit award winner in 1996, feature a center courtyard between two rows of 10 attached condos, skylights, and an abundance of reflective steel panels and glass (some of which was reclaimed from the site's original structure) to leverage light into the project, as well as reduce the buildings' overall mass. At $95,000 a unit, the project sold out in a month.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA, Washington, DC.