“The home is located within the storied New Jersey beach neighborhood of Bay Head,” photo artist-turned-interior designer Nicole Cohen tells us. “The town is known for being one of the nicest collections of shingle-style homes in New Jersey dating to the turn of the last century up to World War II. The town had humble origins, and the homes are largely free of excess ornamentation. We aimed to create an interior that felt relaxed and East Coast casual without being too ‘coastal’ or on the nose.”

Nicole says her clients were looking for a weekend and summer retreat from Manhattan to raise their children, swim at 6am before work, and plant vegetables. As an added bonus, their mother lives nearby. “This was their little weekend dream house,” the designer smiles. The project did begin right at the peak of the pandemic lockdowns, and while Nicole was pregnant with her fourth child. “With restrictions in mind, my team and I were on site at individual times at least two to three days per week. Since it was too dangerous to host in-person meetings, one team dropped off photos of the materials they selected for the other person at the house to pick up,” she says. “The logistics made for a lengthy and confusing design process to navigate.”

Complications aside, the space turned out beautifully –cozy, informal, inviting, and collected. Nicole and the clients reimagined a lot of the details but kept a few of the original things that were left and enhanced them. For example, the staircase and window casings remain the same, but they upgraded the windows to match the style that is consistent with the town as they had been replaced previously. The fireplace and sitting room have built ins that match that vernacular but are entirely new. “The home is elevated coastal grandmother style. We loved Gil Schafer’s work, all of Nancy Meyers movies and that general aesthetic,” Nicole says. “So much was influenced by the client’s personal aesthetic. She’s always wearing blue and white stripes, so the home’s coastal aesthetic speaks to who she really is.”

See more in the slideshow.