Pretty Practical

A Lincroft colonial gets an elegant redesign, making it more functional-and fashionable-for a busy family of five. Photography by Lauren Hagerstrom.

The kitchen designed by Sheila Rich for a family of five in Lincroft now meets all their needs. The new open floor plan repurposed space to enlarge the kitchen without compromising the adjoining family room. The two were united by materials and a transitional style, featuring both traditional and contemporary elements.

When Sheila Rich took on the complete redesign of the home of a family of five in Lincroft, she was faced with working within the confines of an existing footprint while meeting the needs of a growing family—three children under the age of 10. And with a gourmet cook also in the fold, those considerations were particularly important when it came to the kitchen, which Rich said was “outdated and inefficient.”


The inclusion of an island invites more cooks into the kitchen, adding a sink and counter space for the preparation of meals. Footings on the sink and island create a furniture-like illusion.

“They wanted it to be a highly functioning workhorse, elegant and welcoming to guests,” says Rich, of Sheila Rich Interiors in Monmouth Beach.


Door pulls and the chandelier, right, are oil-rubbed bronze, while the distressed ivory wood barstools at the island feature vinyl seats and blue and ivory chenille backs. A planked, distressed wood table with a wrought-iron base seats six and separates the kitchen from the family room. “The areas are defined by furniture, not walls,” says designer Sheila Rich.

Standing in her way, first and foremost, was the wall of an adjoining family room and that room’s sunken floor. So Rich removed it and raised the floor to create one room measuring 40 feet by 14 feet. Then, she added three feet to the kitchen by “pushing the family room down” and adding an alcove to tuck in the sofa. The rooms are united by stained, dark-walnut flooring, crown molding, window trim, baseboard molding and Benjamin Moore’s Linen White on the walls. “It almost looks like it was always that way,” Rich said of the now-open space. “The areas are defined by furniture, not walls.”


In addition to reconfiguring the kitchen and family room, Rich enhanced an adjoining mudroom and powder room. The mud-room cabinetry is painted the same gray as the vanity in the powder room, which is the only restroom on the first level of the five-bedroom, center-hall Colonial. “We wanted the petite room to have a big impact,” she says. She swathed the walls in gray and beige tweed and laid 24-inch-by-24-inch pat-terned porcelain on the floor. In the family room, right, a swivel rocker and a matching brown-leather and dark-walnut ottoman (with casters for easy maneuvering) invite guests to sit and stay a while.

Although the owners favored traditional elements in design, Rich said she didn’t feel traditional was the way to go for such a young family. Instead, she combined traditional and contemporary elements to achieve what she calls a “transitional motif.” Nods to traditional design include the crown molding and millwork, the carved corbels on the island and cooktop hood, and the cooktop cabinet, sink and island footings, which make the pieces appear more furniture-like. Contemporary touches, meanwhile, include the island’s built-in Sharp microwave drawer, a Wolf Sub-Zero six-burner cooktop with two deep drawers beneath it; a Viking double-door oven and standard oven, and a 42-inch, double-door Sub-Zero refrigerator with freezer drawer concealed behind ivory wood panels.

Rich carried the hushed palette of these rooms into an adjoining mudroom and formal powder room, where even the vanity looks like a piece of furniture. With a little adjusting, Rich was able to add a door to a laundry room to close it off from the mudroom and then add a built-in to serve as a catch-all for coats, purses and footwear. In the powder room, the walls were covered in a delicate-looking fabric that’s really “as strong as kryptonite,” which combined with 24-inch-by-24-inch patterned tiles and a brushed nickel chandelier with crystals. “It gives it a very elegant look that matches the rest of the house.” 

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