Transforming A West Orange townhouse with a swanky lounge and a chic, modern kitchen was a treat for two empty nesters—but it was more as well. In 2020, the timing was right, as homeowner Joel Sherman put it, “to do something for ourselves,” yet he and his wife, Dr. Ronna Sherman, had raised five children. It was inevitable that family would factor into this remodel as much as aesthetics.
With designer Blanche Garcia of the eponymous Montclair firm on board to swap the dining room for a lounge and elevate the kitchen from builder’s basic, she “changed our whole lifestyle,” says Joel. For instance, he dreamed of serving flapjacks to his six grandkids on Sunday mornings. At the new, 18-foot island with black leather chairs for six, it’s a snap with the griddle feature of the Wolf stove, one of several stainless-steel appliances.
Family may also have been at the heart of Ronna’s wish for a prep sink for her baking—after all, who eats all those treats? It was certainly a force in what Joel calls the “big test:” a bridal brunch for the wedding of the couple’s youngest daughter, with roughly 100 guests in the new space. The March 2022 event aced it, after Garcia re-sourced some of the furniture due to COVID delays. COVID wasn’t the only challenge facing the project. The elongated galley kitchen required a masterful approach to reflect an open feel and satisfy a lengthy wish list. A double-tiered island ticked two boxes: seating for six grandkids—all at table height— and an elevated prep area for the baker in the house.
But the major wow is the sculptural Unity chandelier by ET2. “That’s like the signature at the end of a story,” Garcia says. Another big lifestyle change in Garcia’s design was her creation of a lounge as a “moody, sexy space,” she says, with a mirrored wall-to-wall bar by Cabinets Direct USA.
The couple had lived in the three-bedroom townhouse for four years before deciding to redesign the dining room. It was Garcia who drew them outside their comfort zone to “go big” with the bar, which anchors the room with a sink, two wine fridges by XO and a dishwasher by Fisher & Paykel. The other star in the room is the custom gold-and-wood table by Old Biscayne, a round table that opens to an oval for company.
“People walk in and their jaws drop because the space is so sleek and fun,” says Joel. “It’s a wow feel. I walk into the house, and I feel that way too.”
TEXT by DONNA ROLANDO
DESIGN by BLANCHE GARCIA
PHOTOGRAPHY by JUSTIN COLE