Brooklyn Broker Applies ‘Organic Modernist’ Style to Her Cobble Hill Condo Renovation

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    We are at the second phase of Julie Cohen’s renovation of her loft-like condo in Cobble Hill.

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    In our previous post, Julie, a licensed associate real estate broker at Compass, optimized her vertical square footage with a floor to ceiling walk-in closet in her bedroom, added needed storage space above her kitchen and designed double floating shelving units in her living room.

    Additional upgrades included the installation of engineered oak wood floors and a fresh coat of paint. Now that the hard stuff is done, Julie is figuring out how to decorate her home with practical pieces that not only look good but also fit in the space. “This is where personal style and utility come together,” she said.

    Custom Tables

    Julie designed her own dining room table after a fruitless search for solutions among the custom furniture builders of Red Hook, DUMBO and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In the end, the farm table and a matching coffee table were custom built by her contractor, Wilman Custom Design, using reclaimed wood from a demolition in a Park Slope brownstone.

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    Trending: Reclaimed Wood

    The reclaimed American pine is more than 100 years old and was planed, sanded and oiled to perfection. Julie said, “With the nails, pits, and knots, it has that character of time.” She liked the idea that the reclaimed lumber had a past life and that it’s environmentally friendly, “reducing the demand for newly sourced wood, which helps curb deforestation.”

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    Photos, from left: Guillermo Grasso; Julie Cohen; Julie Cohen.

    Bringing It All Together

    Julie considers herself an “Organic Modernist.” “I am going for a balance of modern lines and white surfaces contrasted with natural forms and neutral colors,” she said. Put simply, she wants to bring nature indoors and does so with her collections of driftwood, rocks, shells, horns, sea glass, vintage glass bottles, carvings and pottery.

    They work in perfect harmony with the worn antique doors, salvaged custom tables and vintage mid-century furnishings. Julie said that “everything needs to work together” and that all these pieces add a natural depth and yet don’t detract from the apartment’s minimalism.

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    Julie’s Top 10 Tips for Getting the Organic Modern Look:

    1. Light affects your mood and stimulates emotions so let natural light flood your home when possible.
    2. Decorate with objects found in nature to bring the outdoors inside.
    3. Bring in plants and fresh flowers – Julie loves orchids because they are beautiful, rebloom and work in any room.
    4. Seek out handcrafted pieces made from sustainable and reclaimed materials.
    5. Create a calming palette with complementary whites and neutral earth tones.
    6. Go for texture with heirloom-quality blankets, artisanal rugs and a collection of artfully decadent pillows.
    7. Choose minimalist furniture with clean lines and sleek silhouettes.
    8. Find organically shaped light fixtures which will set the tone for an entire space.
    9. Acquire original art – go to local galleries, studios, thrift shops and art fairs.
    10. Be true to yourself and be authentic.

    brooklyn condo renovation

    Photos by Julie Cohen

    What’s Next:


    Custom wrought-iron art shelves, window treatments, rugs, a new painting and finally a sit-down dinner party to celebrate her journey.

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    There’s more to come from Julie. Stay tuned.

    [Photos by Jonathan Grassi unless noted otherwise]

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