Designer SpotlightJan 22, 2020

Designer Spotlight: Nicole Cohen

Written by All Sorts Of
Photographed by Nicole Cohen

Nicole Cohen is the epitome of a boss. Her designs are just the right amount of edgy, just the right amount of sleek, (take a peek at any of her photos to see what we mean) and she is a (wo)man of many talents. Not only is she the mastermind and eye behind the designs, but she’s behind the lens as the photographer, too.  Her path to design hasn’t been a linear one, and there’s so much to learn from her. That’s why we’re the luckiest to have gotten to sit down with her to pick her brain on all-things-creativity and hear more about her most recent project, a rebuilt colonial from the 1930s. Alright now, take a seat, and scroll on down!

Nicole Cohen
a conversation with nicole…

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey and how you got your start as a designer.

I took the long road to interior design! I started as a blogger who was just obsessed with interiors back in 2008. From there, I started shooting a lot for my blog, and it was through some mentorships with some great interior photographers that I began to shoot and style interiors. I occasionally took on very small projects, which I was perfectly happy doing. When a childhood friend approached me and asked me to “consult” on their remodel in 2016, it all kinda just blew up from there and there was no looking back!


What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started or make a transition into this world, but is feeling stuck?

I would say go work for another designer. That is something I wish I did, but since I wasn’t actively looking to get into interior design, and was always planning on staying on the periphery of the industry, I didn’t really get the chance. I would also say, training your eye and developing your taste is the most important thing you can do. Consume as much design media as possible (and not just from Instagram) and build your world. Another thing that I’ve seen a lot of designers do to jump start their career is to make your own house really really amazing. It doesn’t have to be an expensive remodel, but using your own home to showcase your ideas is a great way to put your design aesthetic out there.


What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?

I’ve worked with a lot of my acquaintances, friends, and peers, and I find that to be challenging. In some ways it makes the relationships relaxed and easy, and in other ways it puts a lot of pressure on the relationship because work and life have melded into one. I have also found it hard to achieve a balance between photography and design. Ideally, I would do both so I don’t feel stale creatively, but finding time to do both and promote both is not so easy.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Cohesiveness and simplicity are the key in all things.


Where do you find your inspo?

Design books, historical rooms and homes, magazines, and of course tons of Instagram consumption. Every Sunday I’ve been sharing my saves of the week. I only post my own work on my own feed, so the Sunday Inspo is a chance for me to share the inspiration that I am consuming.


You’re a photographer and an interior designer. How do you do it all and what’s your definition of balance?

Design is obviously a REALLY long process in which it takes years to make something come to life. Photography is the opposite. It allows me to appreciate the moment I’m in and actively look for beauty in the world around me. These two are somewhat of a dichotomy, but I’m lucky that I have passion for them both.
Balance for me is not feeling bored or stressed by any one thing, and it’s being able to shut down at 5/6pm and not think about work.


What are five things you can’t live without right now?

Instacart, chairs, affordable art, sunlight, very, very, very bad reality tv.

You recently finished a remodel of a charming colonial built in the 30s and we’re completely obsessed. What is the story behind the house?

My clients inherited the property from the grandparents — the home was originally built in the 1930’s and then remodeled in the 70s. It was featured on the cover of House and Garden way back, so it is a pretty special place.


What are some of your favorite aspects of the house?

My client is a culinary instructor so the kitchen was obviously EXTREMELY important. We used super durable quarry tiles (basically they’re usually used for the back of house in commercial kitchens) as flooring, and paired it with painted cabinets in Farrow and Balls Dimity. The room is filled with sunlight from adjoining breakfast room and has a stainless steel prep kitchen and pantry attached.
The living room features a lot of furniture we restored: all the chairs, a custom terrazzo table that the client and I literally smashed and assembled together at the fabricators, and a giant wood horse, that hung in the original home. The husband is whiskey collector so the cane and linen wrapped bar had to be extra special to showcase his collection. He also has an adjoining wood paneled study which we adore.


How did you keep the history of the house alive through the remodel process?

We built the current house taking TONS of inspiration from the design of the original home. We even restored and used lots of the original furniture and hung the homes original plans and the remodel plans (which had each bedroom sweetly labeled with the clients parents and aunts names) as art. My concept for the home was “what if they really had inherited this exact house?” I imagined that any young couple would update and restore furniture and give the home a clean look, but that the bathrooms, kitchen and hardware would have more of a period/old world feel. I also gave the home all sorts of deco details and moldings throughout. The house is extremely large, and so we plan on adding layers of accessories and art as time goes on. We tried to keep the home simple but special.


What’s next for Nicole Cohen?

I have a lot of projects from the 2019 year that I cant wait to finish and shoot (like 6!!!)  and we have a few very exciting projects upcoming. I plan to shoot more in this year, produce more art, and I’ve made a bunch of custom furniture for clients and Im looking into how to make some custom furniture available to non clients.

Nicole Cohen
Nicole Cohen
Nicole Cohen Nicole Cohen Nicole Cohen


  • Debra hershmsn

    Thanks for sharing this update on Nicole. I have followed her career for years and I lost touch with her current situation. I always knew she would be successful as an interior designer based on how fabulous her New York apartment was decorated. She is truly a inspiration ,her eye for clever and unique details is what sets her apart from so many.

  • Lauren

    I’ve been following Nicole since her Sketch42 days and own one of her paintings from 2011! She should be very proud of all that she has accomplished so far in her career. Can’t wait to see what she does next!

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