Known for her elegant interiors, Jean Stoffer is an award-winning designer, the author of Establishing Home, and a Magnolia Network storyteller on the show The Established Home—where she takes on ambitious design projects around her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Below, we’re sharing an inside look at her newly-renovated historic home, adapted from the summer 2023 issue of Magnolia Journal.
After a three-year renovation, designer Jean Stoffer is inviting everyone in. Inventive ideas, fresh paint, and careful restoration breathe new life into this 1905 Heritage Hill house.
story by Sarah Coffey
photography by John Stoffer
In 2017, after moving from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be closer to her daughter and collaborator, Grace, Jean Stoffer purchased a 20-plus-room Greek Revival house on Madison Avenue in the city’s historic preservation district.
The plan was to restore and resell the stately 1905 house, but “we underestimated everything,” Jean says. The project took three years to complete, and when it was finished, the Stoffers decided to stay. “Our family is now 21,” Jean says, counting husband Dale plus four kids, four spouses, and 11 grandchildren. On holidays, every bedroom is filled. Beyond family, the house has hosted clients, coworkers, church gatherings, charity events, and more. “It’s an absolute revolving door.”
Devoted to gathering, the kitchen is the heart of the home—and the start of the project. “In an old house like this, the kitchen is always in a corner,” Jean says, “so we moved it to the center of the home.”
Unable to change the windows because of historic preservation rules, she used a large island and lower cabinets to create storage. Jean’s signature flush-mount, English-style drawers and doors make the cabinets feel like built-in furniture, while raw oak millwork lines the walls “the way you’d panel a library,” she explains. Details like these give the open-concept space a finished feeling and connect it seamlessly with the adjacent family room.
Wherever possible, historic details were restored and reused. The front vestibule features original tile, molding, and doors—each brought back to its former glory with deep cleaning, reconstructed trim, and a fresh coat of Pewter Tankard paint by Sherwin-Williams. “Charming spaces like these are what’s great about old homes,” Jean says. “In Michigan winters, the vestibule creates an air-break, so I can close the inner door, open the front door, and get the mail without letting cold air into the house.”
The wraparound sun porches are another original feature. In keeping with the period architecture, Grace and Jean sourced Fireclay’s Chicago floor tiles and built the slate gray color palette from the ground up.
A dark tile border lines the perimeter of the porch and coordinates with the window trim, painted in Jean’s go-to cabinet and trim shade, Bradbury Green, which is matched to Sherwin-Williams Greenblack. The glass-paned room divider was cleverly salvaged from another part of the porch.
Throughout the house, Jean repurposed existing elements in unexpected ways—whether cabinets or storm windows. “The skill of the carpenters who built this house is apparent in every detail,” Jean says. Restoring the doorway trim, for example, required 27 different pieces of millwork.
Original fireplace tiles and trim grace the dining and living rooms, where taupes, greens, and blues lend a classic, crisp feel. Sherwin-Williams Greek Villa, a warm white, coats walls and trim throughout the house for a cohesive color palette. “We always use colors found in nature,” daughter Grace says. “The darks are like a lake in the evening, while the lights reflect the sky.”
Lighting also brings a bit of contrast to the interiors, with modern fixtures from Rejuvenation and Stoffer Home chosen to play off the ornate trim. “It’s important to bring modernity into old homes,” Jean says. “I wanted the rooms to feel sophisticated, calm, and timeless but also fresh.”
“It’s important to bring modernity into old homes,” Jean says. “I wanted the rooms to feel sophisticated, calm, and timeless but also fresh.” — Jean Stoffer
Jean and Grace used several tricks of the trade to bring balance to the house. “In an old home nothing is level or flush,” Jean says, “so you have to disguise the imperfections.” An example: In the bathroom, Bedrosians’ Cloe subway tile extends to nearly the top of the wall but stops short of the upper window moldings. A coat of Sherwin-Williams Argos paint extends down the top eighth of the wall, concealing an uneven ceiling slope. Painting the trim also helped to hide repairs to the wood in several rooms.
Furnishings throughout freely mix old and new, with antique beds and nightstands in the guest rooms and chairs inherited from Jean’s mother in the dining room. In the living room, an antique-inspired patterned rug grounds a pair of slate blue Margeaux sofas and a white oak Hugo coffee table—all from Stoffer Home.
An established designer who worked “under the radar” for most of her career, Jean had the time to build a strong foundation for herself and her family before relaunching Stoffer Home in Michigan. The shop and her home are now local destinations, woven into the fabric of a Grand Rapids revival. “I’m interested in longevity,” she says.
Perhaps that’s what attracted her to this home, lovingly nicknamed The Madison. “This part of town is full of gorgeous homes in need of restoration,” she says. “Repair takes time and money, but it’s worth it. There’s something here that can’t be replicated.”
“Repair takes time and money, but it’s worth it. There’s something here that can’t be replicated.” — Jean Stoffer
01 MAKE AN ENTRANCE
Nicknamed The Madison, the house has an elegant symmetry that starts in the garden and continues through the entrance, where an outdoor terrace connects twin sun porches. Inside, designer Jean Stoffer matched paints to her signature cabinet colors from Stoffer Home. Bradbury Green, matched to Sherwin-Williams’ Greenblack, and Sutton Blue, matched to Sherwin-Williams’ Dutch Tile Blue, enhances the home’s original molding and trim.
02 MASTER THE MIX
Stoffer describes her style as “classic with a modern twist.” Rejuvenation wallpaper and lighting mingle with original elements—such as the fireplace surround and woodwork, painted in Sherwin-Williams Grizzle Gray. Stoffer inherited the dining set from her mother.
03 KEEP IT COMFORTABLE
Sink-in seating—such as the Margeaux sofas from Stoffer Home—invites guests to get comfortable. To tone down the ornate wall trim, Stoffer had it painted in Sherwin-Williams Greek Villa, a white that feels relaxed yet refined.
04 PRESERVE & CONSERVE
In the living areas and porches, Stoffer reused existing storm windows to create room dividers, carving out cozy spaces such as a chess nook. On the walls, the Botany Studies from Stoffer Home reference antique illustrations, bridging past and present.
05 EMBRACE THE ERA
A butler’s pantry off the dining room repurposes the home’s original 1905 cabinetry, painted in Stoffer’s signature Sutton Blue. In alabaster and brass, the Linden chandelier from Hudson Valley Lighting reflects the elegance of the Greek Revival era.
06 GET GUEST READY
With six bedrooms, five full baths, and two half baths, the house is always ready to welcome overnight guests. Antique furniture, sourced from estate sales, contrasts with modern lighting and crisp linens.
07 REFRESH & RENEW
When bathroom materials weren’t salvageable, Stoffer chose period-appropriate fixtures from Kohler. For tile, Stoffer stuck to a neutral palette but played with patterns, such as Bedrosians simple hex and subway tile and Kelly Wearstler’s bold Liaison Collection from Ann Sacks.
Sourcebook on page 114 of the summer 2023 issue of Magnolia Journal.