My Train of Thought

Megan Swoyer editors letter
Portrait by Jean Lannen

Do you save old keys? I do. And every time I look at a particular key that sits on a shelf in a prominent spot in my house, I travel back to my favorite home and find myself standing in the foyer. It’s the key to the house I lived in when my parents moved our family to Michigan in the 1970s — the key that unlocks a treasure trove of memories as I imagine sailing through the front door and into the foyer.

Above was a huge brass chandelier that hung from a more than two-story-high ceiling. Blue slate tile and an Oriental rug that I picked out with my mom at J.L. Hudson’s were underfoot. Two antique chests flanked the door. Inside those chests were extra dinnerware, board games, playing cards, and poker chips. The doors and drawers stuck every time we looked for more plates or a deck of cards, and I was always afraid I’d break the fragile pulls. Atop the chest were model ships built by my father.

As you walked through the foyer you’d notice a gold-gilded, wood-framed mirror hung in a convenient spot for checking your appearance upon arrival or takeoff. A powder room door came next, and then it was just a couple steps straight into the kitchen/dining room/family room.

If my siblings were reading this letter they’d surely say, Megan, you’ve missed the big piece! Fear not; I’m about to divulge the foyer’s main attraction. The pièce de résistance in this space, looming large, was a huge to-scale steam locomotive that my grandfather built. I never knew the man, since he was much older than my grandmother (and was 55 when my father was born!). He worked for a locomotive manufacturer in New York and thought it would be cool to build this mammoth train, complete with a real engine. There was a switch beneath it, and we’d turn it on to hear the engine chug. It was encased in museum-style glass and sat on a long wood table. In this foyer, you’d get a quick sense of the people who lived there: history and design buffs with a love for games!

Indeed, a home’s entryway should evoke a welcome feeling. Inside this issue are foyers filled with cool chandeliers and natural light. Captivating art and glass, wood, and metal handiwork mingle to create an “aaaahhh, I’m home” feeling. Everything from chic opulence fit for royalty to a warm ambience complete with a record player awaiting family and guests fill the foyers. They’re winners in every way.

Not unlike a foyer, the pages that greet you in this magazine also welcome. They set the stage for what’s to come, giving you a look at a couple of the Detroit Design Awards judges’ projects, interior design trends, and some astute craftsmen and their products.

Next, we enter the magazine’s “great room” of sorts. Here, it’s time to sit back and take in all the winning Detroit Design Awards beauty, from powder rooms to water features, closets, and finished basements.

What each of these top designers, architects, and builders brings to the table isn’t just good planning, chic styling, or quality selections and appointments. They’re also fashioning memories.

The many pieces and design elements that make up a home or a room within the home possess superpowers that can generate big waves or little wisps of memories in a single glance. For example, I recently looked closely at a side table at my cottage that was once in my parents’ den. Decades ago, that table might have held a pipe and tobacco, books on trains and presidents, a glass of Scotch whisky, and a small plate of cheese and crackers. Pulling on the table’s drawer handle and wishing I’d see a pipe or some old matchbooks from my parents’ favorite restaurants, I could feel the person who’d typically sit in a nearby chair. He looked up, hearing a key turn in the front door. And in I walked, to a home I loved.

A couple of weeks ago I created a tiny painting of that key and circled it with these words: “This was my key to my house on Oakmont Drive. Walking through the entryway was amazing.”

Congrats to all the award-winners who make home design amazing. Memories are certainly in the making!