Curb Appeal

When my husband and I were thinking about moving into a different neighborhood many years ago, our young sons rebelled.
Megan Swoyer
Portrait by Jean Lannen

When my husband and I were thinking about moving into a different neighborhood many years ago, our young sons rebelled. “No! We must live near our friends, on this street!” they’d yell. They made a point. Although we were craving a larger home with more character and a bigger basement, our sons were all about staying put in a place they cherished. So, we did.

Our neighbors were part of the reason why. I recall when one of our sons volunteered to keep a schoolroom pet hamster over winter break. Of course, the moment we opened the cage to feed it, it scurried away — into the powder room, and disappeared up behind the cabinet. What was I going to tell the teacher and children? I made a frantic call to our sons’ very good friend’s mother, two doors down. She raced to the rescue and managed to coax the little guy out from his hiding spot.

Then there was the time a couple across the street volunteered their muscles to help me move a huge cabinet from the living room to the family room, so we could then move the piano into the living room from the kids’ playroom.

Remember the massive power blackout of 2003 that hit the Midwest, northeast, and beyond? Our front yard became a gathering place for neighbors that first day of the outage. And although all of us were concerned about what was going on, I served drinks and hors d’oeuvres, making the most of the occasion and turning it into a little neighborhood party.

And I can’t forget bird duty. For years, we’d drop off our pet cockatiel, Hyguy, at our next-door neighbor’s home when we traveled. Although they have since downsized and moved, we’ve built a lasting friendship and still cherish our meetups with them.

Replacing them are our new next-door neighbors, who arrived just before the COVID-19 pandemic. With a couple of young kids in tow (more would come), these two doctors had their hands full, but they’d always check in to see how we were doing or if we needed anything, and vice versa, especially during those first few months of pandemic chaos. Now we get each other’s mail, water the flowers, and, yes, mow, and keep an eye on things when our families travel.

So, what are the most important property features on a house’s listing? You might think it includes “one-of-a kind kitchen, finished basement, move-in ready, or perfectly priced.” I’ve learned that for us it’s helpful and kind neighbors (priceless) who will inspire you to think twice before deciding to move. If you’ve got great neighbors, perhaps rather than packing, it’s just time to do some updating.

I’m actually making another type of move, but not into a new house. I’ve so enjoyed working with all of you, Hour Media, and our freelance photographers and writers the past 11 years on this magazine, helping to grow the publication with its new branding in 2020, and increasing participation in our Design Awards, but I’ve decided to step away from my role as editor to spend more time with family. I’ve made sure to let folks know I’m not moving away and plan to continue learning about your designs and being involved with the magazine as a contributing writer.

I was happy to help place the new editor, Giuseppa Nadrowski, in this exciting position. She has worked with many of us on other Hour publications over the years and has been a regular contributor to Detroit Design. Giuseppa has a keen eye for both design and fashion.

I thank our CEO, president, and publisher for providing me with such a great role and for inviting me to continue as editor of Hour Media’s Michigan BLUE, and spearhead our growing emphasis on waterfront living, travel, dining, and more for that wonderful magazine.

Please be sure to stay in touch. I’m still in the neighborhood!