Sylvan Lake homes on display during annual tour

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 13, 2013

 Christine Arrowood shows her 4,500-square-foot home June 12, which she and her husband designed similar to a cottage getaway.

Christine Arrowood shows her 4,500-square-foot home June 12, which she and her husband designed similar to a cottage getaway.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


It’s all about character.

During the annual Sylvan Lake Home and Garden Tour 2013, eight homes and a variety of gardens will be on display 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 22. This year’s theme is “The charm of yesteryear, the vibe of today.”

“Every house is different,” said homeowner Robin Ginnard, who lives in the 1800 block of Woodland and will be featured in the tour. “(That is) the thing I like about this area, after you’ve always just lived in subdivisions.”

Ginnard, who moved into her 1,250-square foot house with her husband from Novi a year and a half ago, said its charm was apparent.

“(It was) exactly the kind of house I wanted to be able to decorate, where it was all kind of cottage-y and more feminine,” she said of her 1940s house. “I’ve had three sons and my husband — no daughters, no outlet for doing more floral, girly things.”

Ginnard said that when they purchased the house, her personality was going to shine.

“I told my husband that I was definitely finally going to come out in this house,” she said, “with just ideas I’ve seen for years in magazines. Whether it is the floral or pastel colors or doing the checkerboard on the wall in my craft room, those are things I could never do before in the last house.”

She described her last house as “cookie-cutter,” but fine for rearing children.

“The kids grew up there (in Novi), which was great for them. You were able to send them out the door and they had somebody to play with,” she said. “We never lived in an area like this where the houses were so different and it wasn’t just the cookie-cutter, big-builder look. I was drawn to it. My husband loved this house from the beginning more than I did.”

She said that since they moved into the house, which some describe as charming, people have been taken with it.

“Since we’ve moved in, people going by just comment on the outside. Everybody has been very complimentary about the flowers and things.”

Tour Publicity Chair Marlene Toby said the same house is never featured twice.

“The tour is so unique in Sylvan,” she said. “When you go to some of these tours, they show big, magnificent homes, and that is not what Sylvan is. I kind of think of us as a throwback city.”

She said the variety of homes featured on the tour shows the diversity of Sylvan.

Money raised from the tour goes toward city improvements; one year, Home and Garden Tour representatives gave $40,000 to build a kitchen in the city’s Community Center, 2456 Pontiac Drive, Toby said. Another year, the representatives paid $17,000 toward a sprinkler system at the Community Center.

After this year’s tour, Toby said, the tour committee plans to meet and discuss potential ideas for future city developments.

“Other people might have other ideas where the money might go, but it will all go into the community,” she said.

Another house on display is in the 2000 block of Garland, where homeowner Christine Arrowood and her husband have gone through a long journey to get to a place of contentment today.

After living in Royal Oak, they moved to Sylvan Lake and were renovating their dream house when it burned down from electrical problems in 2008, and they had no choice but to rebuild.

“We had to watch our house burn down. My son had to move four times in his first five years of life, and it was very disruptive,” Arrowood said. “But at the end of the day, we are truly blessed to have such a beautiful home. It is ridiculous. It was not something we pictured for ourselves or imagined, and we are very fortunate, and we thank God for our blessings.”

She said that after selling her fourth-generation, 1,800-square-foot Royal Oak home to “facilitate this lakefront dream,” they moved into her mother-in-law’s basement for six months. When their house burned down, they moved in to a rental house down the street from their Sylvan Lake home.

“This is not the same home we were building,” she said.

Arrowood said the original home would have been about 1,000 square feet smaller than what it is today, at its size of 4,500 square feet.

“When I went to the builders, I told them I wanted a cottage-style home, but you can’t have a 4,500-square-foot cottage,” she said, chuckling. “But I wanted that feel, and with it being traditional instead of being an open area — a little cozy.”

Arrowood said she hopes people will walk away from the tour feeling inspired.

“I’m really hopeful that everybody appreciates what we have done,” she said. “I hope people … come and see the house, and see the different things we did.

“That is why, when you walk around this house, every plant is just so and everything is just so, because that is how we want things to be and how we expect it.”

Tickets will be sold at the door for $15, or in advance for $12, or at a discounted rate of $10 each for groups of 10 or more. Tickets can be secured in advance at Sylvan Lake City Hall, La Rosa Market, Detroit Garden Works or online at and

To learn more, call the tour hotline at (248) 615-6296.