This Railroad Apartment Has Over 11 Different Paint Colors


Name: Jackie Cantwell
Location: Bushwick, Brooklyn
Type of home: Railroad Apartment
Years lived in: Almost a year, renting

Jackie is a sound musician, artist, teacher, meditation leader, and an absolute expert in making small spaces stunning. Her last apartment was only 400 square feet, but she filled it with color, pattern, and energy. Recently she’s transformed another space, this time a bit larger, and the journey to her current home was no easy feat.

“Once I decided it was time to leave my last apartment last summer, I began the NYC apartment hunt,” Jackie says. “I realized quickly that with shit credit, not much savings, and no guarantor it was going to be a tough look. A broker I was working with named Daniella and I grew a special bond—but my applications were weak, and getting an apartment was looking like a no.”

Six months into her search Jackie still didn’t have a new apartment, but Daniella sent her a text with this address. “I met her and because of her friendship with the owner, I was approved on the spot,” Danielle explains. “When I walked into the place, I fell in love with its character. There are little tiles in the kitchen with kitschy illustrations of weird combos like lobster, beer, and eggs and in the bathroom there are oddly placed red rose tiles. I pulled all the colors for the kitchen out of those tiles.”

You can just tell this is the home of someone bursting with creativity, and Jackie uses her home not to just live in, but also to make things. “I make weird and educational videos about sound, mental health, and self-love for my IG, cook up delicious meals, and make music and sounds in The Rip Room,” admits Jackie. “And there’s always another wall to paint.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I asked some pals about this, I got: “Acid Mod,” “Spiritual Sherbet Soul,” and “Groovy Eclectic.” I don’t know, it’s Jackson (my nickname.) I like to hope it’s like if Aretha Franklin, Blondie, Frida Kahlo, Ram Dass, and Parliament-Funkadelic had a baby. 

Inspiration: I’m inspired by ’60s/’70s color palettes, Hollywood Regency with its golds and mirrors, old soul music, mid-century modern lines and minimalism, rock & roll, great chefs, big personalities, love, and quiet. 

Favorite Element: I love the big eat-in kitchen and all its character… the tin ceilings, the weird pull-down ironing board turned shrine, the old textured walls and molding, and the wobbly floors. How I can hear the mariachi band that lives across the way every Friday out my window. I love places that feel like they’ve got some history or a story to tell. 

Biggest Challenge: I’ve never lived in a railroad apartment before. Figuring out how to make the thing flow and feel open was a cool challenge. Moving in right before quarantine gave me lots of time to figure that—and painting the 10-foot ceilings—out.

Proudest DIY: Painting dollar store stools to match the walls in the kitchen, and turning the ironing board into a little bar is a proud moment. The shrine inside pays homage to some really important men in my life that have passed away, mixed with special memories. 

I built a few things in the house (gotta let ‘em know!), but I’m also proud of the little counter top table I built to marry the space between the stove and the counter. I had to make little risers because the floor is mad slopey—but it’s a vibe.

Biggest Indulgence:That big blue couch in the back was def a big blue purchase. I’d never bought a really nice piece of furniture, and I wanted the kind of couch I could just fall onto all loud like an angsty teen. It’s hard to find comfy big and stylish couches, but this felt like it fit the bill. 

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Mid-way through is that smaller room that all railroads seem to have. I think it’s usually used for a small office or a closet, but in my place I call it The Rip Room. I’m a sound musician and meditation teacher  and moved in here right before the quarantine hit. I set this room up to house all my instruments and to use as a backdrop for virtual experiences. I call it The Rip Room, ‘cause it’s where I rip (play) my sound bowls. I also meditate in there, so it’s got GREAT vibes. 

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