Q & A
Regional Award Winner
Jean Stoffer is the principal of Jean Stoffer Design; a boutique kitchen design business in the Chicago area, started in 1994. Her designs have received national recognition in many publications and at previous Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contests. Jean has a business degree but is a self-taught designer. She enjoys family, cycling and playing the piano.
Where do you find design inspiration?
I find design inspiration primarily from the architecture of the homes I work in, and from the rich architectural heritage of buildings in the city of Chicago. I also draw from British interiors and architecture; I seem to resonate most with that aesthetic.
How do you approach the design process?
I begin the design process with an extensive interview with the client to discover their needs and desires. With that information, I draw the perimeter of the space, taking out any walls that are currently there in real life or on an architect’s plan. With a bank of what the client needs in their space, I start organizing the space. Once a floor plan emerges, I design each elevation; usually seeking to pull in as much natural light as possible. Layer upon layer the design is built. Layout, window and wall placement, niche shapes, cabinetry design and finishes, countertop materials, plumbing and lighting fixtures, backsplash material and decorative hardware.
What makes your aesthetic stand out amongst other designers?
I have heard people talk about my aesthetic, and this is what they say: “There is a beautiful and very natural blending of materials and attention to detail that is unusual.” To me, it just seems like the right thing to do in a particular area – it feels natural. I have also heard that there is a comfortable balance in my designs of proportion and scale. Much of my work is in old homes; I am aware that people hire me because they know I will be sensitive to their home’s architecture, and the kitchen will feel like it belongs in the home that they love.
What is the greatest value you provide to your clients?
I think that the way I organize space is the greatest value I provide. With Houzz and Pinterest a lot of people can really figure out an aesthetic they like and are able to identify the elements in that aesthetic. But they still don’t know how to organize the space to act as the bones for that aesthetic. They don’t have the spatial abilities. That is what I bring to the table.