Old School Charm In A Brooklyn Railroad Apartment

by Maxwell Tielman

When I came to photograph the Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment of Jeffrey Renz and Irene Blazquez a few weeks ago, it was a blisteringly cold winter day, one that New Yorkers have sadly grown more than accustomed to this season. Inside this 1900 railroad flat, however, one would never know. With tall windows, incredible natural light, and the charming hallmarks of a timeworn New York apartment, the space has enough warmth to make the cold seem far away.

By day, Jeffrey works for BOWER, a New York-based home design company; Irene is an architect and photographer. Together, they have crafted a home that combines both of their sensibilities. It’s a home that melds new concepts in design with vintage pieces, one that embraces all the spacial peculiarities of railroad-style living. “We loved it immediately,” Irene says of the apartment. “The neighbors seemed lovely and the space was big and extra white. It had more closets than we knew what to do with, cabinets that had been painted over a million times and molding that gave the space its unique character.” From the couple’s plant-filled kitchen to the living room that comfortably sits gatherings of 10 friends, Jeffrey and Irene have been able to attain what I think is one of the highest achievements of any nesting endeavor: a home that you never want to leave. It’s the sort of place that makes this winter’s stay-inside snow days bearable — even welcome. —Max

Source List

Living Room

  • Planter, Ring Shape Mirror — BOWER
  • Glass Terrariums — ABJ Glassworks
  • Table Linens, Curtains — Made by Irene’s mother
  • Coasters — Made by Irene and Jeffrey
  •  Other Coasters — From the Frank Lloyd Wright Collection
  • Wool Dhurrie Rug — Steven Alan
  • Mid-Century Arm Chair, Dining Chairs, Record player and stand — Furnish Green
  • Framed photographs — Taken by Irene
  • Danish Mid-Century Sofa — Krrb.com


  • Polaris Desk Lamp and desk accessories — BOWER
  • WWII desk chair — Furnish Green
  • Navajo pillow — Vintage
  • Framed photos — by Jeffrey and Irene


  • Pyramid Shape Mirror and Pickup Stools — BOWER
  • Bedside rugs and blanket — Joinery
  • Small shelves — made by Jeffrey and Irene
  • Framed photographs — by Irene
  • Bedside table lamps — West Elm
  • Industrial pendant lamp and crates above the bed — Furnish Green


The living room. Photo by Irene Blazquez.
"The glass terrariums were a housewarming gift," Irene notes, "and the plant in the back even has a name, Nola."
"[This is] one of the few spots that is filled with Jeffrey's treasures," Irene says. "The vintage record stand and turntable produce a really nice sound."
The dining nook at the back end of the living room. A window with wavy glass lets light into the office behind it.
A mirror by Bower hangs behind the dining table.
The dining table. The table square was made by Irene's mother; the coasters by Jeffrey and Irene. The copper planters were picked up on a trip to The Brooklyn Flea.
The home office. "From editing photos to sewing a pair of jeans, this room can sometimes be a bit busy," Irene says, "but is always a cozy place to get things done."
"This photo shows the shelves that are home to our film and digital cameras, as well as other work and office tools," Irene says. "The bag shown once belonged to [my] father back in the 1970s."
Jeffrey's side of the bed. Pyramid mirror and stool by Bower. Rug by Joinery.
The bedroom features pocket doors that open into the kitchen.
The opposite wall of the bedroom features numerous built-in drawers and closets. "One of the big reasons why we wanted to live here," Irene says.
The kitchen features large windows that look out onto the backyard. "This drafting table is one of our favorite pieces," Irene says. "[It] was even refurbished for many, many hours by a good friend of ours."
Jeffrey and Irene repurposed an old dresser by painting it white and using it as a kitchen counter.
The kitchen corner is home to numerous plants.
"We have painted this china cabinet many times," Irene says. "Now it sits in a shabby white and houses a few towels and all of our dish ware."

Suggested For You