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Taste for Space Is Spawning Mansions Fit for a Commoner
"I'm big on everyone having their own space to be their own individual," Sproles said. "I think everyone needs to express themselves."
She grew up poor in West Virginia, with an outhouse and no running water at times, and made a decision early on that she would never live like that again.
"I wanted to become an executive of some sort," said Sproles, who did became a successful computer salesperson. "I wanted to have a cell phone and all that came with it. My vision was to have a big house, drive a big car. . . . I don't know where I got it from -- probably TV. I guess that's where I got it. Maybe 'Dallas.' "
She has Italian tile and a half-horseshoe staircase in the foyer, which reminds her of the one in the country club where she was married.
Her husband, Jeff, who travels constantly and works 14-hour days, said: "Am I happier having space? Absolutely. . . . I don't worry as much. If my kid wants to hit a golf ball, I don't have to worry about it clocking a BMW."
And yet, Donna Sproles said, now that she has lived in the house awhile, it doesn't seem so big.
"You get used to it," she said. "And then, you drive down the road . . ."
Living capaciously has its drawbacks.
It can take an entire weekend to clean the house. Electric and heating bills are often higher than people expect. And simply furnishing the place can be a never-ending task.
George and Georgia Psihas, for instance, have lived in their new, 6,500-square-foot house in Oak Valley for three years without furnishing their dining room and living room.
With Thanksgiving approaching, the rooms were empty last week except for an upright piano and a vacuum cleaner.
"Our thing is we're damn busy," Georgia Psihas said.