The Dawsons chose to renovate and expand their German Village home rather than move out to the suburbs. The home is filled with effects both unique and meaningful, from an old mirror pulled from a neighbor's basement to front doors created by an Amish craftsman to replicate - exactly - the home's originals.

Tour this home and others on Sunday during the 50th annual German Village Haus und Garten Tour.

Maybe, the couple thought - just maybe - they should consider leaving German Village. Rich and Janet Dawson were unsure of where their 13-year-old daughter - finishing St. Mary, a private Village school that teaches kindergarten through eighth grade - would attend high school. So they ventured to Granville, where many of their friends enjoy the historic homes, small-town vibe and thriving arts community. They looked at the well-built houses and the much-praised schools.

Then they came home - to the street they have lived on since meeting at Ohio State University and marrying 20 years ago - and realized that they just couldn't defect.

"The same person who sold me my child's formula sold me toilet paper today," said Rich, a 43-year-old contractor. "It's a neighborhood through and through."

The men, Janet noted, actually race to see who can shovel snow first. And when she had their first child, neighbors would report back about what the babysitter did with her - where she took her, how she acted.

Plus, the home they've renovated in that neighborhood is filled with effects both unique and meaningful, from an old mirror pulled from a neighbor's basement to front doors created by an Amish craftsman to replicate - exactly - the home's originals.

But don't mistake this house for a do-not-touch museum. Besides Kyle, the 13-year-old, the Dawson family also includes 11-year-old twins Morgan and Delaney. And even as much energy as they've devoted to developing the look they call "industrial cottage," the Dawson parents, who both run marathons and coach volleyball, relish hosting gaggles of girls who walk over after school as well as adult friends who spend summer evenings enjoying their courtyard and patio.

"We're not the 'sit upright' [people]. I'm 'put your feet up on the couch and hunker down with a good book,' " said Janet, 44, a legal secretary. "I want comfort."

Creating their ideal mix of comfortable decor with eye-catching appeal has been a passion project. After living in the home's original 1,600 square feet initially, the Dawsons eventually expanded it to 3,000 square feet. Now, the children use much of the original home, while the adults savor time in the addition.

"Urban cottage is what we were trying to pull off for them - kind of mixing old industrial pieces with timeless modern things to make it a sophisticated cottage for them," said Monique Keegan, their decorator and the owner of Enjoy Co. in Granville. "It is the perfect blend of old and new.... I think it respects the setting, but it looks like a modern, contemporary, urban family lives there."

And even though there aren't loads of children around, the savvy, well-spoken Dawson girls adore their neighborhood as much as their parents. Plus, they have the market cornered on walking dogs, retrieving mail and raking leaves.

"I like that there's a park close to here and we can walk to our school and hang out with our neighbors," Delaney said. Morgan is equally as enamored. "You know all the neighbors," she said. "And you can walk pretty much anywhere."

So the Dawsons will stay in the Village, even if it means driving to a high school that's far away. Because they are Village folk, and they just can't assume such happiness any other way.

Want a tour?

Tour the Dawson home, and several others, during the 50th annual German Village Haus und Garten Tour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 28.

Tickets cost $20. For details, call 614-221-8888 or visit www.germanvillage.com.

Designer InfoMonique Keegan, who helped the Dawsons achieve their urban-cottage feel, owns Granville-based Enjoy Co., an interior design and home furnishings company. To contact her, call 740-587-0510 or go to www.enjoyco.net. Kristy Eckert is editor of Capital Style.