Located on The Landing, House to Home is an ornamental oasis run by Emily Baker and Beth Stutzman. These self-proclaimed “mom bosses” are killing it in Fort Wayne’s interior design scene. The two met four years ago through mutual friends and hit the ground running.
Sharing a passion for design brought them together, but they quickly realized how complementary they were to one another. While they both consider their style as transitional (a design approach that mixes classic and modern elements), Beth leans more traditional, citing time spent in her grandma’s condo on the east coast as a major source of inspiration. Emily, on the other hand, leans contemporary having grown up surrounded by more modern structures in the southwest and on the west coast. Over the years, their style has evolved, creating a vision that’s multifaceted-yet-cohesive.
In addition to their style, the duo’s skillset made for a great entrepreneurial match. Emily had the business experience that Beth had been lacking in lieu of being more design-focused. Together, they found they could pursue their dream in a way they couldn’t have independently.
I met up with Emily and Beth at their radiant storefront to talk about their partnership, style, and location on The Landing.
Molly: Can you tell me about your backgrounds and what led you both to design?
Emily: I was born and raised in Arizona. After high school I moved to northern California, where I lived for 8 years.
I’ve always had an interest in design—constantly redecorating or rearranging my room, and trying to help others do the same. I also had an interest in business, specifically in planning, strategizing and executing. I ended up going to school for business, and worked as an executive assistant to a CEO. It was here that I really gained the experience and grit to run a business.
During that time, I also helped him remodel a multiple-million dollar home from the studs up. So when I moved to Fort Wayne, I was ready to build something of my own. I knew that if I was going to work and be away from my kids, I wanted it to be something I was passionate about— something that would invest in the city, and leave a legacy for my kids.
Thankfully, I met Beth, and we bonded over our shared passion for design. The second time we ever talked, she said, “We should start a business.” And the rest is literally history.
Beth: I actually went to school for dental assisting, since dentistry was a family profession. It never felt like a passion, but who really knows their passion when they’re 18, you know? I felt like I should give it a try for my family, so I did. I worked in it for the first ten years of my career, but every year I would ask myself if it was really what I wanted to be doing.
After a while, my husband encouraged me to give design a shot. At the time, IPFW didn’t have an accredited program, so I made the decision to commute back and forth to Ball State—which was really hard. Early on in that program, though, I started to realize that I had already developed an eye for design, and knew enough to figure things out.
So, I decided to leave school and try it on my own. I wasn’t very business-minded, so it didn’t really work out. I could handle the design and creative aspects, but business itself is just not my thing, and I wasn’t intentional enough about it. So, I ended up helping friends with decoration projects on the side.
Then, I met Emily, and that’s really what got everything started. She’s business-minded and likes design. She was the perfect combination, and meeting her got me excited to give things another try.
Molly: How would you each describe your own personal style? And would you say that your styles are different from one another—or are they pretty cohesive?
Emily: I would say I came into this still learning and developing my own style. Moving—from Arizona to California, then to the Midwest—probably had an impact, and I found myself getting lost in whatever the current trends and styles were. Over time, I’ve definitely found my design voice to be more transitional (a mix of modern and traditional styles); I love mixing classic and timeless elements with a modern, yet effortless and casual feel.
Being in this field we have to really learn how to appreciate other design styles, without getting swept up in the trends. That’s something we’re trying to teach our clients as well: just because we like something, that doesn’t necessarily mean we should implement it in our own homes. We can appreciate it, maybe even glean elements from it, but remain consistent with our overall style.
Beth: I agree! When we started, Emily was a lot more modern in her approach to design, and I’ve always been a lot more traditional. I grew up really loving the style of the east coast, which is full of timeless, historic houses.
That was only four years ago, but our style has already changed so much, and I’m sure it will keep changing. But now, we’ve meshed so much more, and gravitated to transitional style—which is a pretty big part of the design world now.
Molly: In addition to your storefront—which is lovely, by the way—you offer services, like interior design and staging. If someone is curious about some of your services, what can they expect about your approach?
Beth: When someone is interested in working with us, we start with an online questionnaire so we can get a better understanding of their project. That’s followed up with a phone call to dive a little deeper. The next step is the initial consultation, where we meet at the home to get more information about the space and take photos. Then, we put everything in a 3D planner, so that they can see their space, the layout, and how things fit. We also put together mood boards, so that they can see all the colors up against each other, which the 3D planner doesn’t do a great job of.
We have a followup meeting to discuss the whole design, and what they want to purchase. They have the choice to adopt the whole plan or pieces of it. We offer our design clients free delivery and five percent off all in-store furniture and décor purchases.
Molly: A well-designed space is so important. It has the power to boost creativity, promote feelings of calm, and everything in between. I would imagine that, sometimes, you want to feel energized by a space, and other times, you want to feel tranquil in that same space. When you’re designing, how do you find ways to balance the energy of a room, so your clients can get the best of both worlds?
Emily: While they may sound like opposites, with design I think that the two actually can go hand-in-hand. I know that I’m most productive and “energized” when my environment lacks chaos and distraction. And I think tranquility is primarily produced from the same type of environment. So, a space that is cohesive and balanced can ultimately produce both feelings.
Cohesiveness and balance can be achieved a few different ways: through repeating color scheme, shape, style, etc., all of which we take into account when designing a space. With clients who like more bold / bright colors, but still want to feel peaceful in the space, we generally aim for the main color to be neutral and choose coordinating pops of color that repeat throughout the space with furniture, art and other décor.
Molly: Out of all the architectural styles, do you have a favorite you like working with—and why?
Beth: We love older homes—anywhere from the 1800s to 1950s are our favorites to work with, which of course spans a few architectural styles. That said, we do work on newer homes, and we would love to work with a builder someday who could create a new build, but with features that give off the charm and character of an older build.
Molly: Where do you go when you need some inspiration? Do you have favorite designers who you follow—or publications you subscribe to?
Beth: Most of the time, I turn to Instagram for inspo—sometimes Pinterest, if I want to get inspiration for a unique space. Jean Stouffer is a designer we follow on Instagram. She’s up in Grand Rapids, and I would totally suggest following her if you’re into design. She does great work on old homes. Amber Lewis is another designer we follow. Her style has more of a west coast, California-casual feel to the transitional design approach, but it’s warm and beautiful. We both love Chris Loves Julia.
Architecture Digest is another great resource. As we get more mature in our business, I’d love to be able to spend more time researching and studying. It’s constant learning.
Molly: Why was it important for you to be located downtown?
Emily: We love the architecture and character of old buildings, so it was very important to us to reflect that in our own storefront. Downtown Fort Wayne has so many beautiful historic buildings, and we’re so thankful to be located in one!
Beth: Exactly. We both live in the 07, and because we love old houses, it felt like a no-brainer to be downtown with all the historic buildings. We wanted to be where things are happening, and to be part of them—to make something really cool that we’d want to personally see in a downtown space. It feels like we’re getting to help our city grow.
Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native and freelance writer. Having lived in Downtown Fort Wayne throughout her twenties, she loves watching her stomping grounds grow. With her love of storytelling and community in tow, she’s eager to tell Downtown Fort Wayne’s story piece-by-piece—exploring the people, spaces, and organizations that make it thrive.