“We were babies – we had no idea what we were doing,” laughs Stephanie Frazier Grimm as she recalls the home building adventure she and her husband Paul embarked on in 2001. Still in college, planning a wedding and building a house all at once: for many, the idea is overwhelming. At least one of the three challenges came to Stephanie. Founder of Couture Parties, Couture Wedding Design, the Newport Party Loft and The Confetti Foundation, Stephanie launched the first of her successful event planning companies following her own walk down the aisle. Turns out, the couple can plan houses well too. “It was a three month process. We picked out everything,” she says.
After the couple purchased the lot in Middletown’s cheery Kesson Farms neighborhood located in the center of Aquidneck Island, they chose an open floor plan for the first floor as they knew entertaining would be a significant part of their lifestyle. Both Rhode Island natives, the couple has family throughout Newport and Middletown as well as in Providence. Fortunately, Stephanie admits, open floor plans were de rigueur by the time they broke ground. “We also wanted an indoor/outdoor space to entertain,” adds Stephanie, so a large deck to accommodate friends and family was priority. She and Paul made a few more changes to the standard home plan including expanding the size of the master bathroom and adding a bathroom at the end of the hallway of the second floor which boasts threespacious bedrooms.
After Stephanie sold her clothing and accessories line for babies and toddlers, Mama & Bambino, the couple designed an addition to the home for supplementary space – and just in time. The couple welcomed their first child, a son named Carter. To customize his bedroom, they had commissioned a wall mural with lines from the nursery rhyme, “Hey Diddle Diddle” complete with a cat with a fiddle and a whimsical dish running away with the spoon. Years later, the family welcomed a daughter, Ellie, who fittingly came home to a room fit for a princess.
The great room, an oversized space that has particularly grown with the family, serves as playroom/guest bedroom hybrid, while downstairs,the couple walled in an area to create a home office for Stephanie. The office is a companion to her studio in downtown Newport where she meets with engaged couples to create a wedding to remember and clients looking to fashion a stress-free, memorable party. The downtown studio’s second floor is home to the Newport Party Loft, which launched last year. “It’s a place for people to get ready before their wedding or small parties,” she explains. “I did this for my own clients but it’s blossomed for other brides.” The area is ideal for hair stylists and makeup artists to work their magic on a bevy of bridesmaids complete with steamers and clothing racks so that every detail is considered.
The Grimms describe their taste as “very classic and very nautical.” In the living room, crisp hues of blue and white dominate with accessories boasting anchors and sea creatures to remind all who enter you’re in a home not far from the sea. Stephanie leaves the heavy lifting, like painting, to the pros, but she does love a project. On the to-do list is reupholstering her grandmother’s couch. Overall, the design scheme is executed through the little things. “I’m big into changing the accessories – pillows or a rug, lamps, but the furniture stays the same; the big pieces stay the same,” explains Stephanie. Some of her favorite haunts include stores like HomeGoods and Target,but she also likes to think outside the box for an unexpected touch. “The curtains in living room are shower curtains and no one would ever know,” she says. “There’s a little trick of the trade!” Since her profession is making things beautiful, decorating, naturally, is her domain. “[Paul and I] collaborate on big things like countertops, the kitchen, floors; but he could care less,” she says about the details. “It’s ‘whatever you want.’” Since her husband’s family grew up summering in Newport, she said a nautically-influenced interior design wasn’t a hard sell. “He’s used to the whole ‘preppy navy blue blazer’ thing,” she says with a laugh.
The children have had free reign to play interior designer in their respective rooms. Sports is Carter’s theme, while Ellie, who inherited her older brother’s room and nursery rhyme mural, embraces color. “She wants to paint it turquoise,” says Stephanie. “She is like my mom. She loves bright colors. Her room is the ‘rainbow bright’ room.” Another bright spot is Stephanie’s latest project: The Confetti Foundation. When her best friend’s son was hospitalized over his birthday a few years ago, it saddened her to learn there wasn’t a way to mark the occasion, despite the challenging circumstances. “I was like, ‘oh no, I’m changing that.’ My wheels started turning,” she explains. After navigating the complicated challenges that come along with creating a 501(c)3 and sourcing funding, The Confetti Foundation has created 124 party kits for more than 30 hospitals and counting for children who are in the hospital during their special day. The kits typically include themed plates, napkins, cups, straws, stickers, a “happy birthday” banner and décor. “All you have to do is add the cake,” Stephanie says.
No matter what new venture awaits around the corner, it seems the Grimms will be ready as their home has long been a solid foundation. “It’s definitely grown with us,” she says. “We’ve been very happy.”