A Valparaiso couple fill their home with handmade and family finds

Stephanie loves finding furniture, like the kitchen’s farmhouse-style tabletop, paired with sturdy but graceful legs. Patio doors lead to a deck down to the yard.

Jessica deKock

Having a passion for finding new and keeping older furniture without filling a house with a mad assortment of pieces is an art—one that Stephanie Grantsaris has perfected. Husband Dino laughs fondly about his wife’s interest when the two chat about their Valparaiso home. She readily admits there’s plenty of furniture in the basement, but it’s evident that any of those pieces will be introduced carefully into the décor.

The couple were married in July 2015 and bought their home just a month later. Not that the search started easily.

“We thought to build, but we had different ideas about a floor plan,” Stephanie explains. But that complication was resolved when they saw the lot toward the west side of Valparaiso. “We liked the lot, it’s close to both our parents, and the foundation was already poured,” making the floor plan discussion moot. The house wasn’t completed, so there were opportunities to add their own style to the 2,200-square-foot house with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. “We say we got to build without building.”

The interior of the modern Craftsman-style house breaks away from Craftsman traditional with open spaces and more light. The kitchen and dining areas open onto the living room, “so we can all be together,” says Stephanie, as she looks over at husband Dino who's at the couch holding their baby daughter Pippa. It’s especially handy when there are guests: “No one has to feel like they’re off by themselves.”

Stephanie chose a neutral color palette in white, cream, and gray. The cream-colored kitchen cabinets complement the pale gray walls and coordinate with other pieces, like the substantial, carved legs of the farmhouse-style dining table and chairs. Dino painted a black coffee table in cream, too, as well as the inside of a new, tall hutch that holds stoneware dishes. “We pieced together things, but it is harmonious," she says. "Choosing a piece is not all about whether I like it, but how it will fit.”

Over the kitchen cabinets is a long, gray sign from Sandpaper in Valparaiso, “Farmers Market,” one of the home décor items that lends farmstead coziness to the cool palette, as does the big, weathered ruler in a corner. Wall art is either photography or natural elements, like the big wooden pizza paddle. A counter-depth fridge was essential to allow a corner pantry door to open. “We do love to cook together," Stephanie says. "Dino cooks better than I do!”

Off the kitchen is a mud room, where Dino installed shiplap and shelving. Dried flowers from their wedding hang in two bunches on the wall. “One of the toughest things is finding fake flowers that don't look fake,” notes Stephanie, who prefers dried flowers or certain silk ones, like the cream-colored hydrangeas on the island and cotton bolls in a hall vase. A half bath is at the end of the mud room, with a mercury glass mirror and dark farmhouse pipe faucets.

The flooring in uncarpeted areas is 7-inch-wide hand-scraped planks. “We knew we wanted something less dark and shiny so that every scratch wouldn't show from the baby’s toys and the dog," Stephanie says. "Originally we had thought of whitewashed flooring, but with so much else in neutral colors, it would have been like walking into fog.” The perfect shade ranging from brown to maple “was a little hard to find, because we didn't want that red hue you can get in natural light.”

The statement piece in the living room is a large, cream-colored entertainment center flanked by narrow bookcases. No detail is overlooked: Stephanie removed the covers of all paperbacks and placed hardback books pages outward to maintain the cool color palette. Space below holds bins for the baby’s toys.

A front room doubles as sitting room and office, with a small, wooden desk. Dino grins and says, “Tell about the sofa there.”

"Dino and I had a little bet going. I had a small apartment sofa before we were married. He told me, ‘You won’t go a year [from buying the house] without buying something to replace that sofa.’ It’s still there, so I won that one!” Stephanie laughs, her bubbly personality often evident.

At the entryway near the front room is a long, narrow chalkboard. Family ties are strong: It’s clear Stephanie enjoys that her sister-in-law pops over every month to create new art on the chalkboard, infusing it often with humor.

Stephanie, a fourth-grade teacher, is also a wedding photographer, though not for the honeymoon-themed photo gallery that covers the wall at the top of the staircase. At the midway landing, Dino, an applications analyst for NISOURCE, framed out the window in farmhouse style. All doors are barn-inspired with an arched inset.

The nursery is a different palette in shades of pink and blush, and feminine without fussiness. Stephanie’s mom made the floor-length, soft pink curtain panels; her brother, Pippa’s godfather, bought the bookshelf; and Dino painted the small table in a blush shade. A free-standing, wide ruler will measure their daughter as she grows. “If we made marks on a wall, we wouldn’t be able to take that with us if we ever decide to move.” Outside baby's room, a sign encourages, "Beautiful Girl, you can do amazing things,” an important message, says Stephanie.

In the master bedroom, painted a mushroom color and with an all-white bedroom set coordinating with the overall color scheme, a double photo frame holds pictures of the couple the night they met and the night they became engaged, paired with the words “To the moon and back,” something the couple says.

Stephanie’s mom, a seamstress, made drapes for the guest room.

Downstairs, patio doors lead to a deck and down the stairs to a patio. The couple fenced in the yard. “It’s on an angled lot with a neighboring house on only one side, so it's more open,” Stephanie says.

Stephanie's favorite room is the nursery. “We go up and read and rock. It's a sweet, happy room. I also love this living area, how it all came together. I can't take all the credit —it was a group effort.”

She muses, “The thing I like most about the house are the things made by our families. My mom made the baby's quilt. There are things from people we love. You should have things around you that remind you of things you care about; we chose things that are personal for us.”

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