A Look Inside a 1926 Grosse Ile Home’s Sunroom

A Grosse Ile newcomer takes us on a tour of her favorite space in her 1926 home.
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Vanessa Chaverri-Gratz and her husband, Josh Gratz, enjoy breakfast in their sunroom with Kona, their 13-year-old Shiba Inu. The temperature-controlled space was added to their home in the 1940s and features in-ground flowerbeds. // Photograph by Joe Tiano

Enjoying a glass of wine together in their Plano, Texas, home, Vanessa Chaverri-Gratz and her husband, Josh Gratz, were scrolling through real estate listings when they stumbled upon a historic Tudor-style home in Grosse Ile. Shortly after, they were in Michigan for a wedding and on a whim decided to go look at the nearly 100-year-old home.

“We fell in love with it and put an offer in the next day,” Chaverri-Gratz says.

The two had lived all over the United States for their jobs but recently found themselves in remote-work positions. “We could live anywhere, and Josh is from Michigan’s Downriver area, so we thought, ‘Why not?’ We couldn’t believe the price point and how immaculately cared for the home was,” adds Chaverri-Gratz, who was pining to live in a four-season state.

She finds the Detroit River’s Grosse Ile, which is about 10 miles long and 1 mile wide, to be a friendly community that’s quiet and feels rural. “People here are neighborly, and they look out for each other.”

One of the selling points of the circa-1926 home was a gorgeous sunroom that had been added on in the 1940s. It’s a temperature-controlled space and has 2 feet of in-ground flower beds. “We uprooted a good number of plants and did some replanting,”

Chaverri-Gratz says. The couple and their 13-year-old Shiba Inu, Kona, enjoy the light-filled space immensely. “We use it as a TV room and breakfast spot. When friends come over, this is the space for watching sports or playing games.”

Chaverri-Gratz is an optometrist recruiter by day for Warby Parker; at night and on weekends, she works with clients online to help them decorate their home spaces. She also creates design-themed content for her social media avenues, collaborating with several home décor companies and featuring their products on her Instagram page. (Join her 177,000 followers and counting at @thegratzlife.)

“Our home, which is timeless and vintage, is my canvas for my decorating skills. It’s a passion and a fun outlet,” she says.

Here, we get a glimpse of the homeowner’s favorite elements in her sunroom — a great spot for welcoming spring!

Photograph by Joe Tiano

If walls could talk

One of the walls was “creamy-vanilla white. We wanted
to pack a punch — my husband had the idea of a green-space mural.” They decided on a landscape from BelarteStudio. “It’s put up in strips, like wallpaper.”

Favorite home design collaborators

West Elm, Voluspa candles, Interior Define, and Yardbird outdoor furniture.

Sofa, so good

The couple’s sofa was custom-created by Interior Define. “You choose the fabric, depth, fill, height, arm style, and more.” They went with a vintage velvet in Ivy and chose English-style arms. In her book, green is a neutral color. “The sofa style feels vintage.”

What lies beneath

A Loloi rug (part of a collaboration with Chris Loves Julia, chrislovesjulia.com) feels “modern. I like the mix of having a checkered plaid — kind of a modern piece — among the vintage.”

Looking up

“The ceiling beadboard was here when we bought it, and it was raw. You could see the stains from the sap.” Chaverri-Gratz wanted more green in the space, so she had it painted in Daily Greens (by Clare, a paint company). Rustic beams were left as is to echo the wood window casements.

Dig this

The L-shaped, 21-foot-long indoor gardening area brims with monsteras, corn plants, ferns, a small lemon and fig tree, and more. The couple use a dripline to water it. “I think the bottom is concrete, and it’s layered with rocks,” Chavarri-Gratz explains.

Game for games

A sturdy wooden game table, from Poly & Bark, is perfect for playing cards or chess. “I’m slowly but surely learning how to play chess and euchre.” The chairs are from the Detroit Club via Facebook Marketplace.

Drink up

An old chest that was the previous homeowners’ television cabinet is now home to bourbons, whiskeys, and tequilas.

Thrilled with throws

“I buy a new throw every year — that’s how much I love them.” The current one is by Minky Couture and is the “crème de la crème of throws.” Kona (their dog) is obsessed with it.

Tray bien

A handy tray from West Elm is typically on the ottoman — a perfect caddy for drinks and candles.

Benched

A West Elm mango-wood bench, behind the sofa, is a good spot for putting on or taking off shoes and for storing books and special mementos, like a vintage eagle sculpture that was once Josh’s grandfather’s.

Lighten up

Chaverri-Gratz doesn’t mind blending new with old and designer with affordable. The floor lamp, for example, is from Target. A Tiffany-style lamp over the game table was discovered on Facebook Marketplace.

Click here to see more metro Detroit interiors. 


This story originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. To read more, pick up a copy of Hour Detroit at a local retail outlet. Our digital edition will be available on April 5.