Cobble Hill Broker’s Condo Renovation: Smart Designer Tips for Your Biggest Investment


This is part 3 of Julie Cohen’s renovation project — where design, real life and real estate come together. Julie is a veteran broker at Compass and is excited about the improvements she’s made to her home. Now that the main work is done, she’s adding the finishing touches to her project — and is happy to share where she sourced her design ideas and how they improved the final look.

Adding depth to your space with art

Julie believes there’s no quicker way to make a space come alive than by displaying art. With the installation of 10-foot-long custom wrought-iron art shelves in her entrance area, the apartment remains minimalist, open and allows her the flexibility to switch up the art.

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Shelving by Wilman Custom Design

“Art adds a point of interest and depth to a space,” said Julie. She sees art as the anchor of a room. In the bedroom, she likes art that clears the mind. In the living room, she is attracted to an interesting piece that draws in the viewer — and she thinks kitchen art should be whimsical.

Brooklyn condo renovation

Rafael Bueno in his Red Hook art studio

In the dining room, however, art should set the mood. Above Julie’s dining room table is a large painting by Rafael Bueno, who is known for his organic Impressionist style. “What I love most about Rafael Bueno’s piece is his use of color and texture,” she said. “Just like the food you are eating, it has a ‘touch me-feel me’ quality.” Bueno’s painting also plays beautifully off the plants and organic elements Julie has brought into her home.

Brooklyn condo renovation

Commissioned piece and book illustration by Rafael Bueno. Photos by Julie Cohen

Hunting for art

To find art, Julie regularly visits artist studios, openings and local exhibitions. “Antique shops and thrift stores are gold mines.” One of her favorite art fairs is the Affordable Art Fair in Manhattan. In Brooklyn, Julie supports local artists and she suggests visiting Pioneer Works Exhibitions in Red Hook, the DUMBO Arts Festival, and Open Studios in Gowanus, Dumbo and Bushwick. Enamoo on Smith Street is also a local shop Julie frequents often.

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Paintings by Michael Schade at Enamoo; painting by unknown artist at Gowanus Open Studios. Photos by Julie Cohen

Shade theory

Julie decided on new window treatments from The Shade Store. After several visits and looking at swatches and renderings, she went with light-filtering solar shades, which give a luminosity and transparency to her space. She added another layer of black-out shades for extra privacy and darkness. “In perfect harmony with my organic modern aesthetic, I decided on neutral colors evoking sunlit sand and crisp linen.”

Brooklyn condo renovation

Photos by Julie Cohen

Design under your feet

“From the moment you step into a home, rugs impact how it looks and feels,” said Julie. She discovered a local store comprising three storefronts on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill specializing in a unique mix of rugs, home furnishings, and décor called Collier West with a rugery and an art annex — a one stop shop for all home-shopping addicts. The rugs are affordable, high quality, hand crafted and they have a great selection.

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At Collier West

Finding inspiration

Here are Julie’s favorite online websites, blogs and shops for sourcing home furnishings and décor. She follows many interior designers on Instagram too. The Citizenry, Remodelista, Emily Henderson, Dwell Magazine, Design Sponge, Rejuvenation, TRNK, Hygge for Home, Apartment Therapy, Studio McGee, Hunted Interior, Eye Swoon, Savvy Home and Apartment 34 are some of her favorites.

For art, Julie suggests going online and visiting Minted, Society6, 1stdibs, Uncoverly by Etsy, Tappan Collective, Artfinder and Saatchi Art.

Lessons learned

Julie believes the process of updating and personalizing your home is both an artistic journey and a smart investment.

“This process has taught me so much about myself,” she said, “and I’m happy to be the go-to for friends and clients.”

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[Photos by Jonathan Grassi unless otherwise noted]

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