Jean Stoffer Creates A Traditional Kitchen For A New Generation

The Junior League of Detroit—veterans of almost five decades of showhouses—hosted its biennial event in September 2020, bringing together 27 design teams to reimagine the city’s historic Bingley Fales House. Migrating for the first time to Detroit’s Indian Village neighborhood, the 2020 Designers’ Showhouse transformed the first two floors of a more than 100-year-old Georgian mansion into a dynamic mix of decorating styles. “The home has a very interesting history, and it has all its original features,” says charity chair Liana Dabir of the 16,000-square-foot estate set on over an acre of meticulously manicured land.

In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Jean Stoffer to learn more about her creative process in designing the Kitchen for this project.


Photo courtesy of Jeff Garland.

aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Jean Stoffer: Our team had a late start, we began designing the kitchen in March of 2020. Our goal was to have the space ready by May but because of the pandemic, we pushed our final install until September.

aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Jean: Although the final reveal wasn’t until the autumn of 2020, our original goal was to have the design completed by May. It is unusual for us to turn around a completed design in such a short amount of time. As for our Eureka moment, adding the banquette was likely our most exciting design solution. The space would have welcomed a table and chairs but creating the banquette really helped to tie the space together and added in great warmth and texture.

aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Jean: Our design team solidified final lighting selections with the homeowner at the very last moment. We wanted to be sure that we were honoring the home’s history with every element including the lighting. Modern lighting in a classic setting has become one of my favorite design elements – I think we achieved just that with this kitchen.

aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Jean: The home itself was our inspiration! We wanted to maintain classic elements of the estate while making it usable for a modern family.

aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Jean: My comfort zone is very much found in kitchen design.

aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Jean: You might be surprised to learn that we didn’t collaborate at all about the final design of the home with the other designers.

aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Jean: The thing I love most about interior design is that each home or showhouse has unique elements, a fingerprint of sorts. I’m not picky of the scale and often find inspiration and creativity in unlikely places. I believe there is creativity to be found everywhere!

aspire: Describe Detroit in one sentence.
Jean: A historic metropolitan filled with character, culture and strength.


Photo courtesy of Stoffer Photography Interiors.

This or That?

aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Jean: Wallpaper
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Jean: Hardwood
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Jean: Mountains
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Jean: Saturated Color
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Jean: Dinner
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Jean: 18th Century
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Jean: Draperies
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Jean: The English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Jean: Week of Broadway shows

Click Here to view more interviews with our Detroit Showhouse designers.

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