DESIGN by SHEILA RICH INTERIORS
PHOTOGRAPHY by LAUREN HAGERSTROM
TEXT by DONNA ROLANDO
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and a Matawan family had necessity times three. That’s three school-aged boys for a colonial that suited a young couple plus one baby.
“We thought that this was going to be our first house and then we would move,” says their mom. They just didn’t count on falling deeply in love—with the house, the neighborhood and the small town where she grew up. “We had sentimental feelings toward the house,” she explains, “bringing my children home when they were born and everything like that.”
Instead of packing it up, they reached out to Sheila Rich, of the eponymous Monmouth Beach design firm. She found the secret of reinventing the center-hall colonial and, in doing so, reinventing this family’s lifestyle.
As Rich transformed the space, she encouraged the lady of the house, who is not ultra-modern in taste, to expand her horizons just a bit. The redesigned five-bedroom home is transitional with clean lines, soft gold hues and an occasional contemporary accent.
Rich quickly realized that for this family to function, in everyday life or in the parties they love to throw, walls had to crumble. The old layout’s fatal flaw: “The rooms were standard rectangles next to each other,” says Rich. Sacrificing a load-bearing wall posed a challenge, but Rich forged ahead with a steel girder for structural support. Today, the kitchen, dining room and family room all flow together, and “everything is just light and airy and welcoming,” says the homeowner.
The couple naturally gave priority to an island big enough to seat the entire tribe. No longer would the family have to wrestle with a tiny island and dinette, as the quartzite slab-topped island (PMI International) welcomes five Vanguard stools in kid-friendly fabric. Removing the dining room’s step-down feature ties these rooms together and eliminates the need for a kitchen table.
In place of a dated dinette, Rich provided a kitchen bar alcove with a beverage center, spotlighting the distinctive angled space along the new bay windows. The setup also makes room for a 4-foot Galley sink to slice and dice in a jiffy. To maximize the treetop view, Rich confined her upper cabinetry to one stove area wall but made sure to give this family with growing boys a full pantry, also on the wish list. Limited wall space didn’t knock down another request: two Wolf ovens. Rich just got creative with under-counter space.
“They love to entertain around the holidays,” says Rich, who was up against a deadline to complete the work before Christmas of 2022. “This kitchen works perfectly. The cooking is concentrated in one area with access to the Sub-Zero and sink. Everything else is available and open.”
But what’s a kitchen design, however functional, without stunning style? One of the highlights is the Fantasy Macaubas quartzite countertops, which offer “character,” says Rich, with blue and gray veins, while contrasting with the high-gloss, white crackle of the subway backsplash. White Shaker-door cabinets (Medallion) with thick crown molding find their contrast in the island base, which resembles furniture in a Biscotti wood stain, harmonizing with the dining-room table, chairs and island stools.
Soft gold-tones add oomph to a “picture-frame” accent at the Wolf stove, which features a handy pot filler.
Echoing the aureate effect are dual lantern pendants—a classic look from Visual Comfort—over the island and a big single lantern in the dining room. Not only the Newport Brass faucet and cabinet hardware, but also the brass nailheads on the counter stools all join in celebrating the look of gold. Yet another focal point is the whitewood hood, born to be noticed.
In the nearby dining room, the two-leaf table (Vanguard) won’t disappoint at big gatherings. Practical, yes, but its pedestal base also delivers style points, while the flower triptych by Wendover Art Group stands out against Benjamin Moore’s Reflection gray. “It looks very three-dimensional,” says Rich. As she strove for serenity, she infused warmth with a flat-weave wool rug in a geometric pattern (Creative Touch).
To transform the sunken family room, Rich again demolished the walls for an open, airy atmosphere. Because parties can spill over into the family room, Rich maximized seating with a gray tweed sectional and two geometric club chairs. The gray-leather double ottoman gets “a little pizzazz” from nailhead trim, while an ultra-modern martini table offers soft gold tones and convenience. For the room’s pièce de résistance, look to the fireplace, a sleek, white combo of marble and wood. “We redid the fireplace completely,” says Rich; it was previously green marble. Another style home run is the 3D string art (Uttermost) that “really makes a statement” –times 12, she says. A charcoal geometric rug on dark-stained wood defines the space, while soft, sheer panels offer motorized convenience—and a gold effect in the curtain rods.
“I think we took a very standard house and gave it entirely new life,” says Rich, reflecting on the award-winning design.
The homeowner is more sentimental: “She made us fall in love with our house all over again.”
To see this and more New Jersey home design projects, check out the February/March issue of NJ HOME now.