Their Long Branch Future

Full of angles and wasted space, a family’s beach-house condominium needed a redesign to rate becoming a year-round home.
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Before a North Jersey couple made this Long Branch condo their year-round home, designer Sheila Rich came in and worked her magic, giving her clients a spacious, modern design that could accommodate their two children and four grandchildren. One key to a Shore house with kids is washable fabrics, as seen on the custom chairs and this microfiber motorized sofa by Cashmere Collection. Bonus: Each seat reclines.

Design by Sheila Rich
Photography by Lauren Hagerstrom
Text by Haley Longman

The owners of a Long Branch condominium had long-term goals for it: They’d eventually sell their house in North Jersey and live at this Shore home full-time. But to make that feasible, the space needed some reconfiguring for greater practicality, as the couple’s two kids and four grandkids would be spending a lot of time there.

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The banquette and legless table mean that anyone can easily pull up a chair at mealtimes.

“There was a lot of wasted space, a lot of angles,” says Monmouth Beach-based Sheila Rich, the designer hired for the job. “Some rooms were unnecessarily large and some were small, so the goal was to update the space and use it to the best of our ability.”

That took some serious creativity. With the help of Catherine Franco Architects of Atlantic Highlands, Rich and her team maximized the kitchen space by reconfiguring the cabinets, adding a double oven and making the peninsula counter height instead of bar height so that it would be more kid-friendly.

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The teal and opal stone on the peninsula inspired the color scheme and the décor in the living space. Designer Sheila Rich chose blue penny round tiles across the back kitchen wall and above the stove to add visual interest.

The “Blue Labradorite” countertop stone, with its appealing teal hue and glistening opals, served as the inspiration for the living room’s color scheme. “I like when each room has its own personality but it’s part of the whole,” Rich says. The custom chairs, all in durable fabrics, pull out the color from the stone.

Another smart design choice was a custom banquette, made by J & H Dinettes in Freehold, which is situated across the back wall in the dining area. A space saver, it accommodates more hungry family members. Rich chose a wide pedestal table without legs so that more chairs could be added as needed. In the banquette alcove is a low-maintenance, contract vinyl wallpaper by Momentum that stands up to kids’ messes and gives the room a shimmery pop. (Rich chose the same wallpaper for the entryway.)

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Elsewhere, the team turned an oversized master bathroom into two separate, nice-sized ones, each with its own shower and vanity. A large closet in the hallway was converted into a powder room; the condo now has three toilets and three showers, which makes washing up from the beach a breeze. Meanwhile, off the master bedroom, Rich designed what she calls a “dual space” with movable walls—its trundle bed and futon can easily sleep all four grandkids, and “the desk area can flip to go up against the wall when the kids aren’t there.”

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In a condo like this one, says Rich, you need to raise the floor to add in plumbing for a bathroom, which explains the step-in shower in this master bathroom. The gray penny tile in the bathroom recalls the kitchen’s blue penny tile, while the floor tile by the double vanity matches the tile used on the shower walls.

The man of the house loves blue, so Rich incorporated that hue into an accent wall in the master. She chose a textured, washable wall covering by Momentum that sits nicely against the headboard, and installed a small reading light on either side of the king-sized bed above the couple’s pre-existing night tables. The master bathroom, slightly smaller yet more luxurious than it was before, features a double vanity, a large shower with a seat and textured river rock on the floor to prevent slippage.

“We made creative use of this space,” Rich says, “and checked off their whole wish list.”

The ultimate test? At presstime, the homeowners were in the process of selling their primary home up north and getting ready to move to Long Branch full-time.

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