Written by Juno DeMelo
Photography by Stoffer Photography Interiors
Realtor Katie Stein knows what buyers want, and it wasn’t the midcentury modern ranch in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, that had been on the market for months.
But she also knew the home had potential—and that there was one designer who could bring it out. So she tapped Jean Stoffer of Jean Stoffer Design, a renowned kitchen-centric designer and the star of the new renovation show The Established Home. A friend and former client of Stoffer, Stein offered to buy the home and proposed that Stoffer do the design work.
Stoffer’s first impression? That the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was “absolutely claustrophobic.” It had the kind of kitchen where they “pack as many cabinets in as possible and hope only one person at a time wants to be in there,” says Stoffer.
Like Stein, however, she could also see beyond what the home was to what it could be. “After doing this for a while, when I look at a potential project, what I’m really looking at isn’t what I don’t like, but what I do have to work with,” says Stoffer. “With this house, it wasn’t so much the aesthetics, it was the great location, a pretty yard, and plenty of square footage to work with. There was room to go places, like vaulting the ceiling.”
She and Stein worked with an architect to transform the kitchen, which now overlooks the backyard and opens up to the family room. They also carved out three distinct but not disparate spaces: the main kitchen; the coffee bar; and the back kitchen, or scullery.
In the open-concept main kitchen, Stoffer tiled the range wall with Ann Sacks Idris by Ait Manos tile in Nacre White, which she says complements the taupe island and brass-edged taupe range and the veins in the quartzite countertops.
For the coffee bar, Stoffer opted for MADE Vistas tile, the newest MADE by Ann Sacks stoneware collection. “We were actually working with a prototype at the time,” says Stoffer. The tile is double-glazed, and the two glazes are layered on each tile to make a two-tone effect in either a half horizontal, half vertical, or quarter vertical pattern. (Stoffer created a subtle checkerboard pattern using half vertical and quarter vertical Vistas tiles in Flannel Over White Shimmer above the dark-green cabinetry from her eponymous cabinetry line.)
And in the scullery, which Stoffer says is one of her favorite spaces in the house, she installed an Ann Sacks Savoy Ribbed tile backsplash in Bronze alongside gray Stoffer Home cabinetry and mottled hardware. “It’s a very cool metallic tile that’s light-reflecting, so we didn’t need to add lights under the cabinets,” she says.
The team also turned what was an attached garage into a primary suite, adding a new garage and connecting it to the home via a mudroom (“Katie knew that in Michigan, buyers want mud rooms,” Stoffer has said) with Ann Sacks limestone Graphite Honed Finish flooring.
Throughout the home, they attempted to blend existing midcentury modern details with a more traditional style. In the primary bathroom, for example, Stoffer chose the Ann Sacks Curated Bath Willowmere double vanity by Robern in Drifted Matte Brown for the primary bathroom.
“It was just the perfect fit for this project,” she says. “It’s kind of a classic with a little modern twist to it with the leg. I love the dark wood stain and the wire-brushed texture of the wood, which brings the grain out. It’s a perfect complement to the Carrara marble top, which felt a little more textural. The whole things is so pretty. And it has some interesting functionality: There are no drawers, but there is a shelf that works around the plumbing, so there’s better storage inside than there appears to be from the outside.”
Stoffer also used Ann Sacks tile in the other two full bathrooms (the remodel added one and a half baths to the home). “For the Jack-and-Jill bath, I loved the combination of the Ann Sacks Nero Marquina for the floor and the subtle pattern of the Savoy Insho for the shower walls,” she says. “It’s easy to maintain and has a very interesting look but neutral palette.”
In the en-suite bath, she selected Ann Sacks Blue Celeste marble tile for the shower walls and floor. “I have loved the Celeste material for years, ever since I first saw it. It is so elegant and understated. We thought that it would be cool to make wall paneling out of the material using the Blue Celeste pencil liners, and it turned out great. The idea of using the same material throughout the whole space was so appealing to me. It created this lux, calming room.”
Stein was able to sell the Plymouth Road house, which Stoffer describes as one of the most comprehensive projects she’s ever taken on, before its near-yearlong renovation was even completed or photographed—and just after they were done filming it for the fifth episode of The Established Home.
“I really wanted to respect Katie’s desire to embrace modern but not necessarily midcentury modern details because it was her spec house, and because she shows houses all day long and notes what people in this area do and don’t respond to,” says Stoffer. “We really tried to speak to those preferences in a way that made sense with the house.”
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