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Taste for Space Is Spawning Mansions Fit for a Commoner

Debra King, of Waterford Custom Homes, and husband Michael Iacovacci built their 14,000-square-foot home near Loudoun County to show to clients, believing it would represent the high end of what they wanted. They were wrong.
Debra King, of Waterford Custom Homes, and husband Michael Iacovacci built their 14,000-square-foot home near Loudoun County to show to clients, believing it would represent the high end of what they wanted. They were wrong. (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)

Iacovacci, 42, a down-to-earth man who recently threw a party for 100 people with a full orchestra, thinks it's a gas.

"Look in here!" he said, waving toward the dining room and its reproduction of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. "You ever seen seating for 20?!"

They figured that their house, which is still under construction, would represent the high end of what people wanted -- until a client recently requested a 23,000-square-foot rambler, a size approaching that of the Taj Mahal, which is about 35,000 square feet.

There is nothing quite so grand out in western Prince William yet, but there are fainter versions: Tullamore Estates and Catharpin Valley Estates, and Bonnie Bennett's subdivision, Oak Valley.

It is off a winding two-lane road where half-filled balloons are tied to "Pre-construction pricing!" and "Open House!" signs. Driving around, it feels like a party that is either coming, or going.

The Bennetts' reasons for moving to Oak Valley with their two children were clear: They wanted to invest the largess from their townhouse, which had skyrocketed in value, and thus bought the biggest house they could afford.

"It was almost ridiculous not to do it," Bennett said, adding that even if she never exactly wanted 8,000 square feet, she sure loves having it now.

Down the street, Cindy Gray said she didn't quite understand why things were getting so big.

"I don't know what it is about that," she said, standing in the foyer of her 6,000-square-foot home while her son ran laps in the formal living room. "I don't know if it's just a society thing? But over time, you just get used to it."

For Donna Sproles, who lives about a mile away in Green Gables, the quest for more meant not only more house, but also more land.

She and her husband have their 6,000 square feet on 10 acres, which, in her view, provides a little more freedom and independence.

"What I love about this is it's so big that we can go into different areas of the house and have private time, if you will," she said, sitting in the family room of her $800,000 home with her two sons. "If Jonathan wants to play, he's in his area. If Justin wants to go online, he's in his room and he can do that. If someone wants to come in here and watch TV, that's their space," and if she and her husband want to watch TV, they have their own private sitting room, far enough away that the two do not interfere.


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