House Hugs

Letter from the Editor, February/March 2019

The object of my first love affair with a house was the home I lived in when I was born. The red saltbox-style home in Connecticut cozily accommodated our large family. My favorite space was the dining room off the kitchen, not only because of its huge round wood table and 10 chairs, but because of its walls of casement windows. We — including seven boisterous siblings and Angus, our English springer spaniel — celebrated everything in that room, from birthdays to Mom and Dad’s anniversary dinners, to holiday feasts. The light (whether afternoon or dusk) and the outdoor views were as cherished as the tiny party hats we’d wear during birthday gatherings.

It’s not that I was thinking back then, “Hey, I love these windows!” Young children, of course, don’t often contemplate architectural elements. But I did sense that they were special, and that they contributed to the happy mood of that room.     

Decades later, I experienced that window crush again. I was with my soon-to-be husband, Ron, and our Realtor, Suzanne. We were getting married in June of 1993 and, a few months before the big day, we set out to look for a house. Ron envisioned us living in a ranch-style abode, and I was fine with that — I was confident that a house can become a home no matter what its style.

We must have toured 39 homes in Oakland County before pulling up to a tidy Colonial in a family-friendly neighborhood in Troy. We whispered to each other as Suzanne led us to the front door, “Didn’t we say ranch?” We both shrugged our shoulders and I thought, “This will be a waste of time.”

The second we walked into the foyer, though, both Ron and I felt different. My heart skipped a beat as we looked straight through the hallway to the back of the home, with its dining room and several casement windows. “So many large windows, and that crank, like I had as a kid!” I exclaimed. I was suddenly 5 years old again, holding hands with my siblings around the big wood table, blowing out birthday candles, and making a wish. Suzanne and Ron were looking at other areas of the home but I was frozen, enamored by the windows in that light-filled space and the beckoning yard beyond.

I sat down at the table and, when they came back into the room, I started singing Happy Birthday. Not really. I didn’t sing, but I felt like it. I did say, “I can totally imagine us sitting here for family dinners and looking out to our gardens and a pretty green lawn!”

This home had made me feel at home. It seemed to embrace me, even though we were set on looking for a different style. Ron loved that he could see trees and the backyard instantly upon entering the home. Scrap the ranch; a Colonial it would be!

Our infatuation grew during the purchasing process, when we’d take a drive and pass by the home slowly, taking it all in as we imagined our future in that house. One time we parked up the street from it so we could study it from a different angle. “That’s going to be ours!”

Twenty-six years have zoomed by since those days, and we’re still in love with our home (we even nicknamed that room “Windows”). As in any good marriage, we do overlook a few things. If I could change the brick color, I probably would. And, yes, we wish the basement was as large as the house’s actual footprint and that the exterior door in the laundry room wasn’t there. But overall, we hold it dear.

There’s no doubt we can fall in love with homes, and they can actually love us back, too. The homeowners in this issue know it’s true. Ashley Dickey of Birmingham shares that she and her husband, Collin, often would rather stay in than go out. They say they like to light some candles, build a fire in the fireplace, cook up a beautiful meal, and just enjoy their home. “We’re very social and do go out,” Ashley says, “but we love to host at our home.”

Patty Ferszt says of  her dream home in Bloomfield Hills, “No matter where we’ve gone or how our days have been, when we come home, the house seems to wrap its arms around us.” 

If that’s not love, what is?