When renowned designer Jean Stoffer walked into the 1931 brick Colonial on Woodward Lane in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she fell in love with the fireplace at the center of the expansive 30-by-16-foot living room. And although it was a beautiful Living Room, Stoffer thought "It could be an exquisite and welcoming kitchen,” fireplace and all.
“I bought the home with the intention of completely remodeling it and selling it,” says Stoffer, who chronicled the renovation on two episodes of her Magnolia Network television show, The Established Home. “It’s a flip, but I call it the ‘slow flip’ because it took over a year. I wanted to maintain its character and repair things the right way.”
Written by Juno DeMelo
In many cases, maintaining that character while updating the home meant using materials that would have been around in the 1930s. In the mudroom, for example, Stoffer tiled the floor in Ann Sacks Belgian limestone
“I’m very enthralled with and inspired by old homes in England, and I see this kind of thing all the time there: large-format, distressed-type stone,” says Stoffer. “Plus, I wanted something dark to ground the space and contrast with the walls and cabinetry.” She also needed a tile that would work in the mudroom as well as in the butler’s pantry, hallway and powder room (which she says she designed around the Ann Sacks Curated Bath Stanwyck Vanity by Robern. “There’s a large series of connected rooms in one corner of the house that all used to be the kitchen, and I wanted to connect those spaces with this Belgian limestone,” she says.
Stoffer married old and new in the family room—which was once carved up into six different spaces—by laying down Ann Sacks bardiglio and white carrara marble checkerboard tile over a radiant heating system. “There was a marble checkerboard floor in the original entry vestibule of the house, and it was the exact same stone, which was very cool to me,” she says.
In the kitchen, she used brass strips to connect 72-by-30-inch Ann Sacks Lilac marble mini slabs for the backsplash. “Most people try as hard as they can to match the movement between slabs,” says Stoffer. “But I seamed them with strips of brass, the kind of material that might have been in the house originally. It’s a very pretty element.”
Above the backsplash is antiqued mirror glass that was cut and installed onsite. And above that, Elements MADE by Ann Sacks glazed ceramic tile in Currant on the ceiling picks up the veins in the marble. “The tile’s a deep maroon. It has iridescence in some places, and parts of it feel deep blue, but it generally has brown and red undertones,” says Stoffer. She loved the tile so much, she used it again in the upstairs primary bathroom in eight different formats and trims.
“We do that a lot, and I think it’s interesting, because many times it’s the same price per square foot to change up the size, but it adds a level of design interest that you couldn’t get if you just used the same size throughout,” says Stoffer. “If you’re doing something sleek and modern, you’re probably going to stay with the same size everywhere. But with our work, it enriches the design a lot to use different formats.”
Stoffer also used multiple formats of one tile, the Ann Sacks Context tile in Jasper, in the Jack-and-Jill bathroom to create a bespoke
look. “I felt like the person interested in this house would be very discriminating, so I wanted to elevate the design and offer more to it than a
standard white tile you would normally see in a flip house that would appeal to a huge range of buyers. I wanted to do something more creative with the selections, and I thought this tile was very interesting because there’s a depth to the glaze. It’s a deep blue, like the part of the ocean that’s super deep, but it has also some brown in the glaze around the edges.”
The tile serves as the backdrop for the Ann Sacks Curated Bath Cornell Vanity by Robern in Carrara. “It’s the only bathroom that we kept at its original size and in its original location, and there was not a lot of room for a vanity in there,” says Stoffer. “When you don’t have a lot of space for a vanity, I feel like you enlarge the bathroom by doing something with open legs.”
Boutique hotels inspired the home’s third full bathroom, an ensuite off of what could be an office or a fourth bedroom. "The Ann Sacks Curated Bath Wyndale Vanity by Robern resembles a piece of Mid Century Modern furniture, so I liked the idea of allowing it its’ own moment and keeping it outside of the more private bathroom space housing the toilet and shower."
The shower walls in the ensuite are tiled with Ann Sacks Savoy in Lantern, the shower floor with an Ann Sacks Savoy penny round, and the bathroom floor with a mesh-mounted Ann Sacks Anderson mosaic Stoffer says is reminiscent of what was already there. “I absolutely loved the size of those tiles. I’ve seen this exact pattern and size in some really old homes. It’s offset, and the edges aren’t perfectly rectified,” she says.
Stoffer’s ability to completely transform a space without losing an ounce of its charm is a hallmark of her design—and it’s on full display in the Woodward house. “I wanted to keep as much of the good stuff as we could,” says Stoffer. “But now the house has all the things modern buyers are looking for.”