Just a block away from the beach on the Jersey Shore stands a large 1920s colonial house. The kitchen was once drab, the bathrooms were dated, and the floor plan felt disjointed. But amid the flaws were big, beautiful arches and stucco walls, enough to convince a young couple in their 30s that this could be the perfect home for themselves and their five children, aged 2 to 11.
The couple handed interior designer and photographer Nicole Cohen inspiration images of Moroccan tile, floral wallpaper, and shaker kitchens—just the right elements to spark her imagination for a total overhaul. The house is now bold, bright, and punctuated with her vibrant custom touches, from seafoam mosaic floors to terrazzo dining tables.
The designer had worked on many of her own homes, as well as small-scale projects for family and friends, but this was her first major renovation, completed with the help of Monmouth Custom Builders—and by the looks of it, we’re guessing it won’t be the last. Here, she shares her top remodeling tips:
If It Doesn’t Exist, Make It
While the couple brought over a few pieces of furniture from their previous home, this house begged for some newness. Cohen went shopping, picking up everything from Restoration Hardware sofas to pottery from Moroccan brand LRNCE, but a few pieces were still missing. Rather than settle for something that was just OK, Cohen went the bespoke route. “We created the custom dinette table from a custom terrazzo blend,” explains Cohen, who also designed a plaster table for the foyer and onyx tables for the den, terrazzo table in the dinette. “Each piece we created for the house feels great.”
Let the Architecture Guide You
“The arches and stucco walls helped inform our mood and palette,” says Cohen, who opted with a breezy Mediterranean vibe throughout. “The couple loves blue and green, so the home has a mix of both. Ultimately, we wanted to create a place that felt easy to live in. We used textiles and textures like terrazzo, onyx, linen, and plaster to give the home a relaxed mood.”
Shop Without a Plan
Yes, you read that right. While Cohen loves being organized, she swears that some of the home’s best details were conceived on the fly before the details were fleshed out. “I’m always inspired by what I see,” she says. The kitchen’s statement green mosaic floors, for example, were discovered early on in the project while shopping for something else entirely: bathroom materials. “We were at the showroom to pick cement tile and fell in love with this one,” remembers the designer. The bathroom palette was also a happy accident: “I actually came up with this color scheme in a tile store. I had the black-and-white one-inch check near some faux wood tile and loved it. I didn’t want to use faux wood, though, so I came up with the idea of cedar paneling.”
Design With Easy Living in Mind
Overall, the designer wanted to create a practical, laid-back home for a growing family of seven—no easy feat! That meant a spacious kitchen with multiple gathering spots (it’s where they spend most of their time) and maximizing the house’s backyard. “The family loves to cook and entertain, so we added multiple outdoor living spaces: a lower and upper deck, as well as a pool and fire pit,” says Cohen. “They wanted a fresh, happy, family-friendly space big enough for hosting large parties.” With those clever tile moments and sturdy custom furniture, the home is now exactly that.
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