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In the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Uptown neighborhood, Jean Stoffer and her design team recently opened up a dazzling new home store. Take a tour and learn all about the design and inspiration behind Stoffer Home in our interview with the metro’s leading design lady.
Pella: What inspired you to create Stoffer Home?
Jean Stoffer: Our team was growing, and we were using my house as base camp. We had projects everywhere. We met every day at my kitchen table. There were several cars parked out front, all our clients came to the house – it just became too much! We knew we needed an office, and since we were moving out of my house, we were moving away from my kitchen. So, we needed a spot to show people our custom cabinetry.
On a different front, we were having trouble finding interesting accessories in line with our aesthetic to style the homes we design. It took a lot of effort to put together what we needed. We often thought: “wouldn’t it be great if we could curate accessories that we could have ready to take to our client’s homes?” So now, we have developed several lines of accessories that are unique to Stoffer Home. For example, we have our own line of pottery made by local artist Jeff Ham, pillows with our own hand selected fabrics sewn by Treetops Collective, a ministry helping refugees assimilate into the Grand Rapids community. We can now “go shopping” at Stoffer Home when we collect items to accessorize our projects. Finally, we love Grand Rapids, and we thought a shop such as Stoffer Home would be a wonderful and welcome addition to the vibrant Uptown Scene.
Tell me about the moment you found the space for your new business. How did you know it was “the one?”
Kelsey and Marcey from our team were having coffee at Rowsters down the street and were walking to their cars when the leasing sign was being put into the window. We were on the lookout for a space, and had zeroed in on a specific neighborhood. This was in it so they called me immediately. A few days later I saw the space and was captivated by the original tin ceilings from 1895, the large front windows, the original wood floors, the 12-foot ceiling height, the condition of the building and the backyard. I could go on and on. I knew it was perfect for us the moment I saw it. Later, the whole team agreed. We feel like the Lord found it for us, and we just agreed with him – like it was a gift.
How long did the renovations take to complete and what changes did you make?
The timing was quite wonderful. We signed the lease at the end of August and spent the next six weeks working on plans, getting building permits, ordering custom materials, and lining up tradespeople.
We held our son’s rehearsal dinner in the space on Friday, October 5th and demo began Monday morning, October 8th. We left the ceiling, floor and perimeter walls intact, but changed everything else, including taking out all existing interior walls, adding a beautiful display kitchen, new bathroom, retail space, a lighting fixture gallery, conference room, and design office. We opened on December 13th. It was one of the most efficient remodeling projects I have ever been involved in. Cory Wyma of Kenowa Builders did a magnificent job of coordination, and every single one of the craftsmen were excited about the project and did quality and quick work. I was truly impressed.
What key design elements did you and your team include to make the store unique?
We wanted the store to feel like a home. So, we designed it to look like a home. It has a kitchen, which is always the heart of the home, a living room, and a knock out bathroom. We are known for our artistic use of lighting fixtures; Stoffer Home is full of beautiful lighting fixtures, placed in artistic and functional ways.
What’s your favorite part about the finished store?
For me, it’s the kitchen. Since kitchen design is my specialty, I poured a lot of creative energy into it. It has unique features and new ideas; for example, the brass trim framing the range alcove. Local metal artist Steve Fidler fabricated and installed this brass and I couldn’t be more pleased. The backsplash tile was harvested from the original bathrooms at The Madison, the Heritage Hill spec project I am partnering with Kenowa Builders on. It is over 100 years old and looks amazing!
The island has a massive 2” thick walnut countertop. This was made by local woodworker Josh Sprik. I’m so happy with it. We designed this spectacular cabinetry that we call the Coffee Bar. It’s a luscious green color and has a concrete countertop with a custom reeded edge we designed and Drew Bleeker from Hard Topix figured out how to fabricate. It is really fantastic. So, I have to go with the kitchen being my favorite part of the shop. We display all kinds of kitchen related products in this space. And so, it is easy for people to imagine how they would look in their own kitchen.
What do you hope store visitors gain from Stoffer Home?
The other parts of the shop will constantly be changing as we sell furniture, art and rugs, and then replace those with new pieces. I hope people are inspired by the store. I hope they gain confidence to style their own homes, knowing that everything in the store coordinates and can be used together. I hope they feel like their patronage is supporting local artists and craftsmen, and they are participating in something beautiful and special. I hope they enjoy their time while they are in the shop, and think of it as a destination to go to with friends and bring guests from out of town. I hope they are proud of it, as Grand Rapidians.