There’s a joke among Pleasant Ridge residents that once you move to this charming little enclave in southern Oakland County, you stay. You just move within the city. Barb and Sean Stokes are no exception.
Looking for more room to spread out with their growing family in 2009, they didn’t look beyond the city’s borders.
“Seventy-five percent of the people here have lived in multiple houses in Pleasant Ridge,” says Barb Stokes. “It’s a great community.”
Luckily Barb and Sean found a 3,500-square-foot home on a picturesque street west of Woodward with serious potential. The 98-year-old house will be featured on this year’s Home and Garden Tour on June 10 (see box for details).
Still, the house required some cosmetic work and it took time for the Stokeses to make it their own. They’ve renovated most of the first floor, including completely redoing the kitchen. They’ve also done extensive work to the backyard, removing a back deck, installing two patio areas including a fire pit and overhauling the landscaping.
“We started with the outside,” says Barb, who worked with Mike Dargo of Natural Creations Landscape on the design and now works with Manny’s Landscaping. “It was over a three-year period. First we ripped down the fence and then we installed a patio. We knew year over year what we wanted to do. We just couldn’t do it all at once.”
The house is perfect for a busy family that needs room to both spread out and be together. Each of their four children has his or her own room. There’s also a dining room and eat-in nook for more casual dining. And the family room is stylish and yet durable with an IKEA sectional with a white slipcover that can be removed for easy washing.
Barb, meanwhile, likes to mix up her decor. She switches out throw pillows, art and accents seasonally (or at least twice a year). As summer approaches, the living room has a fun, coastal vibe with blues and grays. The artwork above the fireplace is from Target.
“I wouldn’t say I have one style,” says Barb. “I get really bored easily so I like to change things up — much to my husband and family’s dismay. Houzz and Pinterest are like the best things ever. There’s so much inspiration.”
The furniture is a mix from Ethan Allen, Pottery Barn, Art Van Furniture and vintage items. There’s an antique cabinet from the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market and old piano from her kids’ grade school gym.
Almost all of the decor is with the kids in mind. Barb and Sean have three boys, 13, 8 and 2, and a daughter who is 11.
“With kids, you can’t be too matchy matchy,” Barb says.
The center of the house is the kitchen. Totally redone with ideas from Houzz.com, they tore down a full wall and half wall to open up the space. It now overlooks both the dining room and steps down into the family room.
“It just made it more open,” says Barb
A large island has seating for the kids. Marble countertops and a marble backsplash add sophistication to the space. Brushed gold hardware blends perfectly with the light fixtures above the island.
Barb says she “toiled for months” about installing marble but finally decided to go with it.
“It etches so you can’t be someone who is too concerned about that. (If you worry about marks) Marble isn’t the product for you. But (the etches) add character. I have four kids. I did have it honed which helps,” says Barb.
Peeking through one wall in the kitchen is some original red brick. Discovered during renovations, it was covered with drywall.
“It was a beauty of a find,” says Barb. “We were so happy to find it.”
Upstairs, the bedrooms are spacious. The third floor attic has been converted into a spacious bedroom and desk area for 11-year-old Kate.
The family’s most recent project, completed this spring, was an upstairs bathroom. Once outdated and pink, it now has a more modern look with white and black tile and marble counters.
“I just have to do one thing at a time,” says Barb.
They have the time. These Pleasant Ridge residents aren’t going anywhere.
13th annual Home & Garden Tour
‘A Pleasant Ridge’
Pleasant Ridge may live up to its name, but early residents actually preferred another moniker: Oakdale.
According to a 1981 publication by the Pleasant Ridge Historical Commission, “Pleasant Ridge Then and Now,” residents favored the name Oakdale when the community was first incorporated as a village in 1919, but they settled on Pleasant Ridge after discovering there was already a post office with the name Oakdale. They adopted Pleasant Ridge from the Pleasant Ridge Country Club, which was named after a town in Kentucky — Pleasant Valley — combined with a local street, Ridge Road.
The city, which will celebrate its centennial in 2019, was settled by farmers, says longtime resident Cathie Gillis, 85, a member of the Pleasant Ridge Historical Commission. Eventually the city also drew workers from Ford Motor Co. along with doctors and other professionals, all attracted to its central location.
“It wasn’t that far from Detroit,” says Gillis, a 59-year resident.
Today, the city of 2,460 is known for its lovely, diverse mix of older homes: smaller ones east of Woodward and larger ones on the west side. Many of the homes are colonials and Dutch farmhouses and 32 are more than 100 years old.
Gillis says building the community pool in 1960 really bridged both sides of the community.
One of Pleasant Ridge’s biggest challenges came when Interstate 696 was built in the 1980s. Gillis’s husband Don was one of the attorneys who fought the project, but the state won and the freeway eventually claimed houses on several streets. Today, a large brick wall shields the city from traffic.
Gillis, meanwhile, can’t imagine living anywhere else: “I’ve just totally loved it.”
Home & Garden Tour in 13th year
Advance-day tickets for this year’s tour, which runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 10, can be purchased for $15 at cityofpleasantridge.org or at the Pleasant Ridge City Hall on Woodward or the Recreation Center, 4 Ridge Road. Tickets also can be purchased the day of the tour for $20 directly behind City Hall from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Call (248) 541-2901.