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At Home With: Nicole Cohen of Sketch42′s House Tour, BEFORE & AFTER!!

Nicole's Upper East Side home gets a refresh and Rue has the inside look and exclusive interview.

Copy: Crystal Palecek , Interior Design: Nicole Cohen , Photography: Emily Johnston (Before) and Patrick Cline & Nicole Cohen (After)

If you’re a regular to Rue, then you know we’re big fans of the fiercely talented Nicole of Sketch 42. A true triple threat – visual artist, formidable decorator, and blogger extraordinaire - this New York City gal has no shortage of inspiration when it comes to creating beauty.

In January 2011, Rue debuted the airy and art filled Upper East Side home Nicole shares with her husband and two children. It was an instant reader favorite and, many pins later, proved itself to be one of Rue’s most loved home tours of all time. When we heard from Nicole that she was decorating and giving her home a refresh, we knew we had to snag the tour!

Tell us, what inspired the new direction for your home?
I’ve always been a decor addict, and over the years I just kept collecting things I couldn’t pass up and my place was starting to look like an antique store (aka I was collecting and hoarding chairs). Around a year and a half ago I found those two amazing Tobia Scarpa chairs sitting on a street corner in the UES in a heap of garbage. I dragged them home and checked them for bed bugs with my super. Eventually I came to love the ugly/pretty vibe they were throwing so much, that I kind of redid the apartment to accommodate them. Five years and two kids had not been kind to my space-  the paint in the living room needed refreshing, and the furniture was looking worn. At the point that I actually went and bought the new furniture I had been contemplating it for about two years.

How would you describe the “before” look and the “after” look?
The before is definitely glam hollywood regency. The after…is cozier? I knew I wanted a bigger coffee table, and a cozier sofa. I needed a closed bar because the kids were knocking over bottles. So I guess we call it cozy hollywood regency meets midcentury meets art hoarder.

What is your favorite change to the space?
Getting a sectional, and the white oil paint on the walls! So glossy. So crisp. And the sectional, which I normally have an aversion to is amazing. I also regularly caress that coffee table, and use it as a backdrop for shoots pretty much every day. It makes all my stuff look so much prettier.

As an artist, how do you keep inspired through the art in your home? Any tips for rotating art or creating a collection?
Ah, I change the art around all the time, pretty much based on what I’ve just made… Once I hang something and get used to it, someone usually wants to buy it and then I feel sad and miss the piece. But I look at that as my challenge: make a new piece that I love enough to hang on my own walls. The Golden Globes series , as well as Cameraderie were both created specifically for me to hang on my own walls. I also love getting art gifts from friends, I recently did an art swap for christmas with a bunch of my creative friends. I so much believe in the power of the group, and that our generation is rising and starting to create an influence, and I love having the work of people that inspire me surrounding me.

I also move stuff around my apartment on a daily basis. It’s an addictive fun way to make your space feel fresh. Its why there are pieces leaning everywhere- looks cool, and it’s easy to move around! The rest of the time I swap things out with other people. But when purchasing art, I find the best thing to do is to go for something that moves you. If you can’t walk away from it, take it home.
What were the biggest changes to your home?
I pretty much changed everything in the living room. I kept the special pieces that I was attached too, like the vintage media console, and the custom made bench. I swapped out the coffee table, that I always felt was too small, the sheepskin rug that was accumulating tons of crumbs and cereal because of the kids, and the sofa and chairs, which were not making the most of the space. I was considering that I might have another kid in the next few years and wanted to make the living room a room we wanted to hang in (we previously only really hung out in the den/playroom area which will one day maybe be converted to another bedroom. And I didn’t want a “fancy room” anymore. I also thought that because I have so much random stuff in the apartment that a big cream sectional would create something solid for the eye to rest on, letting everything else- like the coffee table, pattern on pattern with the rug, and vintage collections shine. I purposely didn’t settle or compromise at all, and was adamant about every piece being sculptural, simple and special to me.
Biggest challenge?
Finding the actual stuff I wanted to buy! As I said, I refused to settle. I trolled 1stdibs for years searching for the perfect statement coffee table. I even tried to DIY paint 4 CB2 white cubes to make a Milo Baughman lookalike checkerboard coffee table. I couldnt imagine spending $10K on a real one when my kids would definitely destroy it. When I met Sasha Bikoffafter shooting her portfolio – she came up with the genius idea of making a table out of marble- indestructible! Within two weeks I had it in my apartment. And that’s after months of searching. She also pointed me toward Wolf Home for the sectional. I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like, but I was super indecisive about actually pulling the trigger on a sectional (so scary, so big!) before I met Sasha. The fabric is some kind of kid resistant blend, and the entire fabric component of the sofa can be removed, washed and even replaced!
You recently collaborated with Intermix. Tell us about that!
I’ve had a great relationship with Intermix ever since I did a little show with them a few years ago. They approached me again about creating a limited edition shopping tote to commemorate the renovation of three of their NYC stores, and I jumped at the chance. We also had an art show in the original 5th avenue store to celebrate its reopening, which was super exciting and fun! Narrowing down my creative vision to just a few pieces was really hard! It was also the first time that I was showing my photography in public, which was thrilling but terrifying, not in the least because I have thousands of photos to choose from! The photos were printed and framed by UPLO, and they were so pristine, that I literally told the printers, only half jokingly – you guys make my shitty photography look good! It was great to be able to show that to people, and the exercise of culling down my work to just a few pieces was a good one. I found that my photography let me do things I couldn’t do with paint- be simple. I’ve realized that I take simple, graphic and nostalgic photos. I work hard at trying to idealize life, but the photos seem sad to me later on non the less.
I also loved having all my NYC artist peeps and friends come out and meet each other. Look out for the tote around NYC, and you can see the photos I put into the show here.
What’s next in the life of Nicole Cohen?
I’m begging Patrick Cline to do a book with me. We collaborate non-stop on things, and I feel like I have a book in me in some way, and that would be the ultimate collaboration. But basically, to just keep on keeping on. “Make something every day” is my motto.
Want to learn more? Check out Nicole’s post for my photos and details!
Shop the art and photography in Nicole’s home: 1. All painting here // 2. The Golden Globes (on the kitchen wall) // 3. Cluster of Cameras // 4. Shoulder (behind sofa) // 5. Leaves (in front of TV) // 6. Adidas (in the bedroom) // 7. Be Cool Baby // 8. Intermix Gallery // 9. Palm Spring Gallery  

*Read more At Home With stories over here!

  • natacha valiente

    Liked the before too..! ;)

  • JLATSTERLINGCOOPER

    way too much going on.

  • Comfy Cozy Couture

    Amazing….all of the art…I’m dying!

  • http://inredningsvis.se/ Maria – inredningsvis.se

    I think it was MUCH more stylish and lovely Before…sorry :)

    Check out my Swedish decor blog you guys :)

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis – inredning it’s, Swedish for decor :)

  • Deb

    Like the new couch but otherwise liked the before better! Sorry.