Sheila Rich Interiors: Design Blog

Helpful tips and suggestions on designing your interior.

Up, Up, and Away – Eye-Catching Collection Displays

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sheila-kitchen-pitchers.jpgLots of us have collections, whether they’re family heirlooms, books, or just things we’ve accumulated over the years that have sentimental value. But we don’t always have the space to display them, nor do we want them cluttering up our counters, table tops, or fireplace mantles.

Rather than tucking them away, enjoy them and the memories they bring by creating out-of-the-way display areas in just about any room of the house. Not only will they add an extra dimension to your design, you just may find you’ve added some architectural interest as well.

This wonderful pitcher collection features a fruit and vegetable theme – a natural for the kitchen. By adding a high continuous shelf to these kitchen walls, the pitchers provide additional shape and color, as well as becoming a beautiful display that can be enjoyed by everyone.


My clients wanted their cherished books and collectibles to share their living space, but they didn’t want them cluttering up tables or desks. We created a shelf and capped it with 6½” crown molding in the den/guest room, which not only allowed them to display their mementos but also added another architectural element to the room.

Collections can be most dramatic and interesting when kept together. My client’s green glassware collection was scattered all over the house, which minimized the importance of each piece. We created a lit display section above new kitchen pantries where her impressive collection becomes important and artistic.

Roosters ate up a large portion of my client’s kitchen counter tops, reducing her work space and creating clutter. As a favorite collection of hers, we made a designated space for them by adding shelves on either side of the window, where they create a whimsical and unique display. She can now enjoy them every day without sacrificing space.

So if you have collections of any kind but don't want to take up valuable surface space, look up - you may find the perfect solution right over your head.



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Holiday Style For All Tastes

The holidays mean different things to everyone. To some, they’re all about seasonal traditions and memories; to others, they’re a time for celebration and parties; to a growing segment, it’s a combination of both, reimagined with a conscious effort to keep things “green”.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Christmas-ornaments---holiday-decor.jpgThe way a home is decorated tends to reflect the person’s or family’s preferences as well as their design style. A family steeped in tradition will probably have decorations that have been handed down through the generations, where each piece is a memory with a story behind it. I know of families whose oral traditions are kept alive through holiday traditions and decorations, as each new generation of children hears the memories of the generations before. Stories about how everyone looked forward to seeing grandma’s holiday gingerbread village, where individual houses were specially made for every child in the family, and everyone gathered around to eat the rest of the edible village. Kids lit up as they listened to stories of their great-aunt’s travels as her holiday mementos were hung on the tree and excitement fluttered in the air as everyone helped put together grandpa’s old train set piece by piece, preparing for the big moment when the switch was flipped and the train chugged around the track once again. For these families, creating the holiday is as big as the holiday itself.

Not everyone has such vivid holiday memories or collections, nor do they have room to store a large amount of decorations. The holidays are no less special, though, and sometimes it’s easier for these families to hire a designer who specializes in minimalist holiday decorating that’s conducive to entertaining, expresses the spirit of the season, and can be removed by the designer after the holidays are over. A tastefully decorated tree with colors that complement the décor of the home, a wreath over the fireplace, and holiday-themed china may be all that’s necessary to create an understated yet festive atmosphere for holiday parties and dinners.

b2ap3 thumbnail Pine-cone---sustainable-holiday-designSo many people who are interested in eco-friendly design also want to extend that lifestyle into their holiday decorating. Many start with a live tree complete with the root ball, which they can decorate and then replant in their yards after the holidays are over. Taking that one step further, any branches that need to be trimmed in order for the tree to fit in its designated space can be made into a wreath for the front door or over the fireplace, or the boughs can be casually laid on the mantelpiece and interspersed with pinecones, nuts, or other decorations for a natural yet elegant look. A live rosemary plant looks very festive as a centerpiece on a dinner table and adds a wonderful aroma to the room. After the holidays, the fresh herb can be used all winter long. And strings of strikingly colorful LED lights save money on electric bills while being more eco-friendly than incandescent lights.

If you’re starting from scratch but still have an eye toward creating a sustainable holiday, you can put the “three Rs” into practice – reduce, reuse, and recycle. By buying vintage, antique, or previously-loved decorations, you reduce waste, reuse beautiful pieces, and recycle in a meaningful way. Chanukah menorahs are usually handed down through a family, which is an eco-friendly tradition that started long before the modern trend began. To take sustainability one step further, those in the know suggest using natural beeswax or vegetable oil candles, as they are the least polluting options when burned.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, there’s a celebration style to suit your home, beliefs and lifestyle. Have fun creating it, and make sure to include all the generations of your family! Happy holidays!


Pine cone image via Wikipedia.


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Location, Location, Location: The TV Dilemma

Televisions have come a long way since the days of those bulky units that protruded into the room, taking up lots of space or requiring a piece of furniture dedicated to them. Today’s flat-screen TVs are no longer intrusive and take convenience to a whole new level. But whatever the size, the same issue still remains – where’s the best place to put your television?

Bedroom-Television-Sheila-Rich-575It’s not surprising that more than 98 percent of American households own televisions (according to government statistics), and more than half of those have a television in the bedroom. Unless you have a sitting room, the best placement for your bedroom television is right across from the bed, so you don’t have to strain your neck or get into uncomfortable positions to see it. Often that would be to put it in place of a dresser mirror; you can always hang a mirror elsewhere or get a standing mirror to take the place of the dresser mirror.

If you have a fireplace in your room, mounting the television over the fireplace is ideal. That way, it becomes part of the room’s focal point without distracting from it. In a room with a nice outdoor view, the television can be placed on a wall that allows you to see both at the same time. If streaming sunlight causes a problem at a certain time of the day, add a shade or blind that can block the sun when you’re watching TV but then can be pulled up and out of the way when you want the view to shine through.

A lot of people like to catch up on the day’s news while making dinner; you don’t have to waste counter space on those little table-top televisions anymore. For my clients who enjoy some television company during meal preparation, I put a flip-up television underneath the upper kitchen cabinets. When not in use, you can simply flip the television up and out of the way, and it can be hidden behind your cabinet’s trim. You can choose from several different sizes of TVs, which can all be hooked up to cable.

Do you enjoy being outdoors in the warm spring and summer weather but want a little entertainment while you lounge in your backyard? You can install a television in your outdoor kitchen, then just swivel it to face your chair and flip it up to protect it from the weather.

There are some important things you need to think about before deciding on where to put your flat-screen television so it doesn’t end up in the wrong spot:

    • Unless you have a room that is a dedicated TV room, don’t sacrifice the design of your room for your television. Arrange your furniture first, then find the appropriate place for the television so that it’s in sync with the design concept.
    • Not every seat in the room will be perfect for TV viewing, but you won’t be turning on the television when you’re entertaining anyway, unless you’re having an occasional TV-centric party for something special like the Super Bowl or Academy Awards. Sacrificing ideal conversation groupings to make every seat optimal for TV viewing would be a mistake when the room isn’t being used for TV viewing.
    • Keep in mind that you should allow the right spacing between your seats and the television - getting the biggest TV isn’t always the best idea if your room isn’t large enough – and choose a space for the TV where it can be comfortably viewed by you and your family.

By using these suggestions as basic guidelines, you can enjoy both your television and your surroundings to their fullest.

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Successfully Intermingling Heirloom Silverware

Heirlooms are an important part of every family and every home; I receive questions regularly from people asking how they can integrate their family heirlooms into their décor. But heirlooms aren’t just decorative pieces that can be used as accessories or wall art, there are also utilitarian heirlooms that tend to get tucked away if the family that inherits them already has their own crystal, china, or silverware.

This doesn’t have to be the case. I received a question from a woman who had inherited her grandmother’s silverware and wanted to know if there was any way to use both her own and her newly inherited silverware at her holiday table. Her grandmother’s set held wonderful memories for her, but she didn’t want a chaotic-looking table. With the holidays upon us once again and holiday tables being planned, this question is particularly relevant now.

Mismatched silverware used in an aesthetically appealing way can add a lot of character to a table at family gatherings, especially when one or more pieces hold memories or have special meaning to your family.

One way to use two different silverware patterns together is to use the place settings from one set and the serving pieces from the other pattern. You can also alternate the patterns at the place settings around the table – every other place setting will have grandmother’s silverware, and alternating settings can have your own silverware. This also works well with china patterns; my daughter selected a china pattern that would coordinate with mine so that when she took over hosting our large family gatherings, she could easily intermingle each set with the other. In addition, her total number of place settings doubled when added to the coordinated second set. This is something new brides may want to keep in mind when registering for their china and silverware selections.

Besides inherited and handed-down silver, some people enjoy finding unique and beautiful serving pieces in their vacation travels or at antique shops. Each piece then has a story and a memory behind it and becomes a part of your own personal history.

Personally, I love the idea of mixing silverware patterns – when done correctly, it can create a very charming, interesting table.

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The Multi-Faceted Mirror

All too often, home and condo buyers complain that the previous owners have covered one or more walls with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, especially if the interior hasn’t been updated recently. The idea behind mirrored walls is to use mirrors to visually increase the size of a room or add reflective light to a dark area, but some do-it-yourselfers overdid it.

Mirrors should be used as a decorating tool, not as an entire interior. Nothing should ever be overdone, no matter how attractive it is or how much you like it. As a general rule of thumb, it’s important to remember that too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing at all.

If properly used, wall mirrors can add flair and drama, reflect light where it’s needed, reflect a beautiful view and bring it into the room, and give depth and size to small areas. Don’t avoid placing furniture against mirrored walls, just place your furniture as if the wall had no mirrors, allowing those walls to be functional as well as purposeful. Mirrors can also be used to hide wall blemishes as well as damage on furniture tops. A mirrored tabletop can make the accessories on it look like they’re floating, and mirrored placemats can add fun and glitz to your table settings and give dishes that same floating appearance.

In the kitchen, a mirrored backsplash can add more light and depth to the darker area which is usually enclosed by cabinets, but keep in mind that a mirrored backsplash will require more maintenance, as it will show splash marks. A mirrored folding screen in the bedroom allows you to get different perspectives when dressing; it can also fill a dark corner without using a typical wall hanging.

If your home or condominium has too many mirrored walls, by all means remove some, but first figure which ones, if any, are in strategically good areas as discussed above. Then you can eliminate the overkill and keep the ones that work to your home’s best advantage.

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