FUTURE PERFECT A DESIGNER HELPS OUT-OF-STATE EMPTY NESTERS TURN A RED BANK CONDO INTO THE RETIREMENT RESIDENCE OF THEIR DREAMS.
Design by SHEILA RICH
Photography by LAUREN HAGERSTROM
SOMETIMES, WHEN IT COMES to interior design, you need to plan for the future. Such was the case for an empty-nester couple who purchased an outdated condominium in Red Bank hoping they’d retire there after a complete renovation. It was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom corner unit on the seventh floor with waterfront views and tons of potential. So the out-of-towners, who have New Jersey roots, found Sheila Rich of Monmouth Beach-based Sheila Rich Interiors online and hired her to bring their vision to life.
“They sent me pictures of what they liked, and I wanted something timeless,” Rich says of the semi-long-distance project. “The touches of orange are easy to change if in ten years they don’t want orange, but all the other colors are standard and neutral. It’s a good palette to jump off from.”
With the color scheme set, Rich and her team got to work, first opening up the walls to get more mileage out of the waterfront views and make the kitchen the center of the living space. But what ensued were myriad structural issues that made things begin to resemble an episode of Property Brothers. “We discovered a gas pipe going through the wall over the stove,” Rich says. “We needed the gas line and also wanted the wall open, so we took the gas line and elbowed it to the right, put it up that small wall, built a soffit above the island (which also became a great place for lighting) and then elbowed it back into the apartment above them.” Cement ceilings throughout the apartment made light installation difficult too, so Rich and company built coffered ceilings in just about every room and added recessed lighting. Crisis averted.
Another clever trick was adding in four built-in pantries in the large corridor for storage, painted a darker charcoal gray to visually separate the entry hallway from the living space. A “symmetrical” small dining area with a Hubbardton Forge ribbon chandelier and a homey living room round out the main area. “Most people would have had the sofa under the window, but we did the sofa facing the view,” the designer says. “The custom console has a hydraulic lift, so the TV can go back in its place when not in use and the view is unobstructed.”
Rich also overhauled the master bedroom and bathroom as well as the guest room and guest bathroom, using the same cohesive theme as the rest of the home and cleverly maximizing space. For example, says Rich, “In the master they have two decent closets but there was no room to put a dresser, so I put in two bedside chests from Vanguard Furniture, each with three drawers that, with the closets, gave them enough storage.” Crisis averted again.
During the reno, the six-hours-away homeowners would pay a visit to the Jersey Shore every five to six weeks to meet with Rich and make sure things were on track. They were thrilled with the end result. “Once we worked together and they had confidence that I was reading them,” says Rich, “it just worked.”