Written by: Juno Demelo
Photography by: Stoffer Photography
Dave and Kristy Stoffer and their three young children were living in a small house in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that was bursting at the seams when they saw it: a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home built in 1916. The location was great, and the home had really good bones and historical charm. But it was last remodeled in 2007—and had a cow theme that extended all the way to the address plaque.
Not a problem. “We really wanted something ugly so we could rip out all the ugly and put in what we wanted,” says Kristy, a nurse anesthetist. Dave’s take? “I think you wanted the house because you knew my mom would design the kitchen.
Dave’s mom is none other than Jean Stoffer of Jean Stoffer Design, a renowned kitchen-centric designer and the star of the new renovation show The Established Home. The first two episodes cover her renovation of Dave and Kristy’s house, which started in January of 2021 and ended in September, just in time for the start of the school year. Dave acted as the general contractor, and his sister, Grace Start, as a designer. (Grace is Jean’s key design partner, while Jean’s son John photographs all of the firm’s work. And her son Dan runs the Bradbury Café, which is nestled inside the Stoffer Home store in Grand Rapids, where Jean moved six years ago from her hometown of Chicago.)
Kristy says that the first time they walked in, it was obvious that the wall dividing the kitchen and the dining room needed to come down, which meant having to rip up a bunch of floorboards. Rather than trying to patch that section, they chose to replace all the floorboards with Ann Sacks Bordeux Gris tile, which they also used in the scullery.
The benefits were both functional and aesthetic. For one thing, the rugged limestone flooring can stand up to stains, spills, and snowmelt, key for a non-shoes-off family that, according to Kristy, “lives hard” in their homes. It also allowed Dave to run efficient hot-water radiant heat underneath. And it made it easier to level out the floor, which had a 2-inch difference from one end to the other.
But Dave and Kristy also appreciated the antique look of the stone. “We love raw materials: wood, metal, stone—anything with earth tones,” says Kristy. “And we love that each tile is unique, and there’s a little bit of color and texture variation.” For the backsplash, they went with MADE by Ann Sacks Provencal tile, which Jean says “fit the look and function perfectly.” Along with the neutral flooring, the backsplash provided the backdrop for bold finishes like the “eek-moment” polished-brass range hood.
Jean and Grace also selected Ann Sacks tile for the upstairs bathrooms. Kristy had originally fallen in love with a celadon-colored tile in a vertical stacked pattern that she wanted to use in the primary bathroom. “I don’t blame her; it was gorgeous,” says Jean. “But we started to see that exact color and pattern everywhere, and we wanted to do a new twist on it.” So Jean suggested a more classic tile with a modern edge, the Ann Sacks Idris by Ait Manos in metal gray. For the floor, they used Ann Sacks Calacatta Borghini SP marble tile with warm and cool veins in the same color family as the Idris. (They also tiled the shower floor with an Ann Sacks tile, the Lava Calda hex.) “We always want to do something a little more understated so it can be more timeless, especially with materials that are substantial, like floor tiles,” says Jean.
In the kids bathroom, which needed a complete gut remodel, the walls are tiled all the way up to the ceiling with Ann Sacks Savoy Lotus. “I always think more tile is better, because it’s so durable and easy to clean,” says Dave. The tile is stacked vertically using a rare bigger-to-smaller brick-set pattern inspired by vintage bathrooms Grace had seen. “It’s a 3-by-6 tile above the pencil liner and a 4-by-8 below. It’s kind of like a building, where the foundation stones are larger than the bricks,” says Jean. Another vintage nod: the Ann Sacks Nero Marquina hex floor tile, with a lot of grout line to make it less slippery.
Of all the spaces in the home, Jean says the recessed bar with an arched top most perfectly melds Dave’s and Kristy’s styles. “Dave loves dark, hunting lodge–type spaces, and Kristy loves Bohemian casual-chic—and they both love green.” Dave chose dark green cabinetry from Jean’s own Stoffer Home line, which inspired the almost metallic, blackish-green charcoal-glazed Ann Sacks Mason tile they used for the backsplash. They intended to paint the interior walls of the bar the same color as the tile, but ultimately decided to wallpaper it instead. (Dave and Kristy hung the wallpaper themselves, a first-time, “very entertaining experience,” says Kristy.)
Six months into living in their new home, Dave says the stone flooring in the kitchen has already proven to be extremely hardy. “It’s probably one of my favorite parts of the house, and it’s one of the first things people comment on when they come in.” They left one small cow on the address plaque—and as many of the original moldings and wood floors as they could save, along with the beautiful leaded-glass casement windows—but otherwise, the space has been transformed.
“Overall, the whole renovation was a really positive experience,” says Kristy. “We just appreciate all of the little details—from the quality of the cabinetry to the way the floor feels underfoot—so much. Living in this home has been such been such a blessing. We keep pinching ourselves.”
Designer Kelly Hohla spoke with us about balancing old with new in her renovation of an early-20th-century home in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.