Before & After: A Designer Brings an Unexpected Pop of Green to a Relaxed, Coastal Family Kitchen

published May 15, 2022
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Credit: Courtesy of Nicole Cohen
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Sometimes a bold pop of color is what it takes to transform a vanilla kitchen from drab to fab. Artist-turned-interior designer Nicole Cohen found this out firsthand in one of her recent projects, a New Jersey cook space with a fairly disjointed floor plan. The front door of her client’s 1920s Colonial basically opens up to the kitchen, and in its current state, the room was falling flat, especially for a vibrant young family in a home just a block away from the beach. “When we first saw the original kitchen, it was too small, in bad condition, uninspiring, and lacked color,” says Cohen.

The homeowners wanted a showstopper that would be super-functional for entertaining, so they enlisted Cohen to transform the space, from footprint to finishes. “The family spends most of their time in the kitchen, and they are huge foodies, so we wanted to make it a standout room for them,” says Cohen. “We knew the kitchen had to be open with multiple places to sit and hang out so everyone could be in the space without it feeling crowded.”

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole Cohen

Cohen’s game plan? Kick things off by gutting the space then reconfigure the layout to incorporate a large island for cooking and eating while channeling the airy, relaxed vibe of the nearby seashore into the color palette, which makes use of white and cream finishes, warm wood accents, and — the pièce de résistance in the room — bluish-green Moroccan style mosaic tiles from Mosaic House. “The couple share a love of green and blue so we wanted to incorporate that in a big way,” says Cohen. “I found this tile when shopping for other materials for the project, and it felt like it was meant to be.”

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole Cohen

To open up the space and make it feel brighter, Cohen chose Benjamin Moore’s Simply White for the walls and ceilings and paired Shaker-style cabinetry from Castle Woodcraft Associates LLC with open shelving. Though the windows in the room stayed roughly the same size and in the same spots (save the now slightly smaller casement above the sink on the kitchen’s back wall), the natural light that pours into the space is now far more apparent, thanks to all of the reflective surfaces and transparent blinds from The Shade Store.

Decorative wooden beams add character and warmth to the space, echoed by the choice of a wood finished island and counter stools. The dramatic gray veining in the white marble backsplash and countertops creates a strong focal point in the room that doesn’t compete with the flooring and even ties in the gray dinette table, which is located in the same area as the original dining table.

Credit: Courtesy of Nicole Cohen

Speaking of that dinette table, Cohen actually created the sculptural, one-of-a-kind design herself out of a bespoke terrazzo blend. “In each of the projects I work on, I always try to create one piece of furniture that can live on in the client’s home,” says Cohen. “We custom-made the aggregate and shape.”

The composite nature of the terrazzo subtly references the sand, rounding out the soft, beachy undertones of the space. The rest of this area was furnished with bench banquette seating upholstered in durable, outdoor fabric by Perennials and vintage textiles on hooks for the back of the cushions.

To keep the bright, airy look going well into the night, Cohen mixed white pendants from deVOL Kitchens with bronze flush mounts from Schoolhouse, which coordinate with the cabinet latches and pulls. This combination provides ample task and ambient lighting throughout the space, providing illumination for whatever the family is cooking up with their new appliances.

The project took about eight months to complete, and it was part of a larger renovation that also included a basement buildout, a pool, a porch, and an extension off of the kitchen. “My biggest piece of advice is to start with a vision and assemble all of the ingredients to make that vision happen,” says Cohen. “Throughout the process, make sure you have patience and a sense of humor. Lastly, always plan for the unexpected when embarking on a renovation project. You never know what discoveries you will make and what will need to be upgraded when renovating an older home.”

Now her clients couldn’t be happier with their kitchen. They love spending time in the space, which feels like both a breath of fresh air and a calming oasis — their very own jewel by the sea.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A Designer Brings an Unexpected Pop of Green to a Relaxed, Beachy Family Kitchen