With a third child on the way, Virginia Gonzales and her husband, Steven, needed a larger home. While they loved their three-bedroom century home in Chagrin Falls, it couldn’t support their expanding family.
But the hunt to find a new home turned out to be pretty simple. Gonzales, who had grown up in Chagrin Falls, knew she wanted to stay in the suburb known for its New England charm and walkable downtown.
“I knew that’s where I wanted to raise my family,” says Gonzales.
The couple purchased a 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom colonial home on a corner lot along Falls Road — the longest existing historic brick road in the country. In addition to being located in a neighborhood full of young families, Gonzales is thrilled her family will get to participate in all her favorite Chagrin Falls traditions such as the annual Blossom Time Festival or the Chagrin Sidewalk Sale.
“This sounds crazy, but Chagrin Falls really hasn’t changed,” she says.
In many ways, that’s true. Homeowners who are looking to increase their square-footage are drawn to communities such as Chagrin Falls for its well-maintained older homes full of character.
But Chagrin Falls has the added benefit of a flourishing retail scene set around its picturesque waterfalls, including bars and restaurants, clothing and furnishings boutiques, and the 159-year-old Chagrin Hardware.
“The proverbial ma-and-pa shops,” says Mayor William A. Tomko, “they’ve got something that will bring people here.”
Since moving into her new house, Gonzales has joined the retail scene with her own shop, Chairs Downstairs, a boutique selling vintage chairs she reupholsters. The shop is on the ground floor of the Deborah Nicholl Interiors & Co. store her mom has operated for more than 20 years, so Gonzales has grown up around the village’s tight-knit small business scene.
“These are all people who live here and are proud of their shops,” Gonzales says.
That sense of community from residents and business owners alike is a draw and something that many suburbs with sprawling developments or no real downtown are missing.
And while the extra space has given the family room to breathe, Gonzales is ready to shape the home more to their needs.
“I think we’re the third owners of this house, and when we bought it not much had been done in 20 to 30 years,” she says. “We would love to expand the kitchen and totally gut it and renovate it.”