I came across a similar issue and used rich:toolBar instead. Have you considered using a rich:toolBar with the line separator option, and styling the selected option to make it apear as a tabbed panel. Here is a link to the rich:toolBar demo page: http://livedemo.exadel.com/richfaces-demo/richfaces/toolBar.jsf?c=toolBar&tab=usage
Hope this Helps,
Consider using togglePanel instead of tabbed panel. It allows to create switchable panel of any design easilly. Check richfaces-showcase sample which shows basic tabs created using togglePanel. If you will combine with toolbar as Chris Valencia proposed - it should completelly fit your needs.
If you want to exploit all the features of rich tabpanel and have no option to substitute the tab panel, as of my knowledge the only way to put the icons at the right side is use of div. Keep those components you want to keep it right side in a div. You can use the following styleclass for the div .
left:700px; (as per your screen)
top:50px; (as per your screen)
Thanks & Regards,
Thanks for all the suggestions. SInce this is an existing project I would prefer not to chnage the tabbed panel to another component.
Seems Sreejith idea is the one for me to try first. Putting icons to the right of tabbed panes is an idiom I encountered many times in modern UI
... So maybe this is a glove the RichFaces developers would like to pick...