Sheila Rich Interiors: Design Blog

Helpful tips and suggestions on designing your interior.

Ring In The Bling – Year Round Holiday Sparkle In Home Design

Everyone loves beautiful holiday decorations, but let’s face it – no one enjoys taking them all down again. It’s time consuming and a bit of a letdown.

But there’s a way to dress up your décor for the holidays and not have to take everything down afterwards.

In home décor just like in fashion, bling is the thing, and dressed-up rooms practically define the holidays. Accessorizing your room with eye-catching elements is the same as accessorizing your outfit with beautiful jewelry.

As I mentioned in my previous post, crystals are being added to chairs in place of tuft buttons as well as on fabric surfaces and wood frames as decorative accents. That’s one way to add touches of sparkle that will make your holiday shine and continue to make your home beautiful for years to come.

But you don’t have to limit yourself to upholstered pieces - you can also dress up your cabinetry in a similar way – with cabinet jewelry.

Drawer pulls and knobs have gone high-style with crystals, colorful enamel, and embellished metals. If you want a lot of zing in your kitchen or bathroom, put matching or coordinated pieces on all of your doors and drawers. But if you’re only looking for touches of glamour or new focal points, you can just add these pretty pieces to more eye-catching areas like over the stove, at the sink, or over the refrigerator. You can also create a coordinated look by putting crystal knobs on back plates of brushed nickel, brass, or chrome - whatever matches the rest of your hardware.

So before your holiday guests arrive, use any or all of these simple touches to dress up your cabinetry and/or upholstered furniture so that it shines with the light of holiday spirit. And after the holidays pass, there’s no cleanup – and you can still keep the beauty of the season well into the years ahead.

Designing Interfaith Holidays

During the holiday season there are many ways for interfaith and blended families to embrace everyone’s traditions.

What I love most about the holiday season is family and friends sharing meaningful, memorable times together honoring everyone’s beliefs and traditions. Acceptance and open-mindedness instills tolerance and forms the foundation of future traditions for the next generation.

Holiday decorating can be so much fun, especially when it becomes a shared family activity. Some interfaith families combine two or more holidays in their decorations but keep the actual celebrations separate and traditional. A Christmas tree may hold decorative crosses and Santas as well as miniature menorahs and dreidels. On the other hand, a Jewish family I know likes to hang seasonal-themed stockings by the fireplace, string blue and white lights outside their house, and decorate a tree with secular ornaments because they love those customs, but they celebrate Hanukkah and always honor the meaning of their holiday. They view the decorations simply as “the glitz of the season.” I’ve also seen trees in Jewish households decorated with pearly white bead garland, blue, silver and white ornaments, and topped with a silver Star of David. The idea of a “Hanukkah bush” goes far back – there are references to it from at least 1879. Another interfaith family has a large tree decorated in a Victorian motif – the muted tones and period-themed ornaments don’t reflect any holiday but add a special and beautifully festive tone to their home.

And those are just a few of the ways to enjoy an interfaith holiday for families that either celebrate two – or more – holidays or prefer to walk an secular line but like the outward customs. Decorations like snowflakes, snowmen, icicles, trains, sports teams, and the many hobby- or career-related ornaments and so many more can be used on any type of tree or large indoor plants; they can also spruce up table tops. Ribbons and garland in many colors, as well as nonreligious novelty garland or evergreen boughs, can be placed around doorframes, windows, and on fireplace mantles.

And it’s not just interfaith families who decorate their homes for multiple holidays – some people just like celebrating diversity and can have different decorations representing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more. In fact, there are ornaments that incorporate symbols from several different beliefs whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and unity.

When we think about redoing the décor in our homes, we usually think about replacing or rearranging furnishings and accessories, but the holidays present us with an opportunity to spice up the interior we already have. At this time of year we’re adding to our existing décor in a very personal way that reflects our beliefs and traditions as well as our lifestyles. Old and new co-mingle in an atmosphere of celebration that lasts for only a short period, yet its deep meaning remains a permanent part of our lives.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very happy holiday season filled with warm memory-making traditions, however you choose to celebrate!

Part 2: Sheila Rich on NBC's George to the Rescue!

Well, the filming is done and the family has returned home! If you read my October blog post, you know I’m talking about the project for NBC’s George to the Rescue that I was honored to be part of. Last month I could only tell you the project’s challenges because I didn’t want to reveal any spoilers for viewers or the family members. But since the episode aired on October 31, I can tell you all about it now!

You can find the details of the home that was in such serious need of help here. I won’t go into all the details again, but the entire sun porch had to be removed and the yard graded away from the house to prevent constant flooding of both; then a new, functional room was added in place of the sun porch and raised to the level of the existing main floor.

We created an entrance to the new room along an outer wall with a window – that window became an open archway between rooms that can accommodate a door at some point in the future, if the family so chooses. Since the archway falls between the new room and the living room, we revitalized the living room with fresh paint and new Berber carpeting in shades of beige, both of which continue into the new room, creating flow and a more open look.

Instead of building another sun room, we decided on a year-round four season room with easy access to the yard for the dogs and the children. The plan was to give this family a space where they could all be together while each person could still spend time enjoying the things they love doing. We created a warm sitting area at one end witha round table with self-storing leavesand four chairs; this can be used for games, homework or dining. A comfortable black leather sofa, loveseat and ottoman offer an area for relaxing, conversation and reading or just gazing out the windows, which we left uncovered since the room doesn’t require privacyand has lovely views of the outdoors. We put in lots of windows to give the room an airy feel; the scenery also becomes a focal point. Pops of color in throw pillows and whimsical wall art give the room a touch of pizazz.

But there was one extra consideration – we wanted to make some special accommodations for the family’s two rescue dogs so they could share the space with everyone too. One end of the room is now a designated “doggy section”, where there are matching dog beds and each pup has its own “Bone Appetit” mat with a doggie water-cooler. Now that the property has been properly graded, the dogs can easily be let out into the yard through the new back door.

At the reveal the family was overwhelmed with the changes we made to their home. This design has made a difference to this deserving family, and it was heartwarming to be part of it.

Find Sheila Rich’s Column in The Asbury Park Press Newspaper!

Interior Design Newspaper ColumnBreaking news – you can now find more of my interior design tips and advice in my monthly column, “Rich Ideas”, in the Asbury Park Press, both online and in print.

I’ll be talking about lots of design concepts and answering readers’ questions about anything and everything related to design, remodeling and pre-construction layout planning. No design challenge is too big or too small; after all, every aspect of your home deserves attention and makes an impact on family, friends, and even future buyers.

Got a seemingly impossible design challenge you’d like advice for?
Need some help transitioning your things to an active adult community?
Want to know how to make the best use of small spaces?
Preparing your home for the real estate market?
Aging in place or buying a multi-gen home that needs to include universal design?

From trends to timeless designs, professional to residential interiors, I’m happy to help you create the look and functionality that best suits your lifestyle or business.

You can read my column online or in print in the Asbury Park Press’s “Living in Jersey” section on the third Thursday of every month, and you can email your design questions to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Hidden Hobby and Game Room

Hobby-Room-Train-set-Make-A-WishEarlier this year I was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation asking if I’d be interested in helping them fulfill a wish for Angelo, a 3½-year-old boy who loves trains. No question – I was thrilled to be able to make his dream come true!

Angelo’s wish was to have a room dedicated to his train hobby. He came to love trains because during his many medical treatments, his dad would help him refocus his attention by playing with an ever-expanding train set. The set had grown so large, it overflowed the dining room table and had taken over the main floor of the house.

The home had finished attic space (accessible from the second floor of the house) that was being used strictly for storage; because of its sloped ceilings, it seemed incapable of being used for anything else, especially housing an elaborate train set. However, I found it to be perfect as a hobby room escape; it was an ideal place to create a world unto itself and make a great getaway for Angelo. The key was simply rethinking and reimagining the layout to fit the space.

I ran the train tracks around the perimeter of the room underneath the lowest part of the sloping ceiling, where there was enough space height-wise for the trains, tunnels and buildings but not enough room for a person to stand. I left the center open so Angelo and his dad can operate the trains from the inside, where they’re surrounded by their trains and can easily access any and all areas of the setup. The train bridge also serves as an entry to the center of the setup – it tilts open for easy walk-through access. The entire train table is supported by cubbies, which are used to store extra train cars, tracks, accessories and equipment.

We created themed operational vignettes along all three walls adjacent to the train set: a carnival scene, a winter/Christmas scene, and a farm landscape. On the wall behind each vignette is a custom-painted backdrop that continues the theme.

The family didn’t lose their valuable storage space; behind the cubbies, on two walls, there is hidden storage space that is easily accessible.

When Angelo saw his new train room, he exclaimed, “This is traintastic!” I loved his enthusiasm and his new word, so I went out and got large letters to put on the sloped ceiling that proclaims the room as “Angelo’s Traintastic Depot”, honoring this wonderful boy and his creativity.

Hobby-Room-Train-set-Make-A-Wish-Room Hobby-Room-Train-Set-Make-A-Wish-Ferris-WheelHobby-Room-Train-set-Make-A-Wish-Bridge

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