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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)

She and her husband, who have four children, run a home-improvement business out of their home office, the one room that is used seven days a week.

They simply have not had time, she said, to fix up their dream house, much less enjoy it.

"We moved up . . .," Georgia Psihas said between answering the door and the phone, as if moving up were just one more item on a list of things she had to accomplish. "You know, bigger, better, best, but I don't know necessarily if bigger is better. I don't know if I enjoy it more. The only room I ever sit in is the office. Then I go to sleep in my bed. I don't even know what my bedroom looks like."

She was busy in the cramped office, a room of perhaps 200 square feet where her husband sat at a desk and her daughter, Melinda, at a computer. Faxes were coming over on the machine. Two phones were ringing. The FedEx guy was at the door.

Melinda, 21, flipped through a magazine with a big house sketched on the front, the word "epiphany" underneath.

"This is what she wants," her dad said.

As the Psihases saw it, moving into a bigger house was not something to be questioned, but something to be accepted, an axiom of American life.

"Bigger bigger, better better," Georgia Psihas said. "It's just a part of life."

And one that builders understand very well.

In Orlando, workers are busy finishing up the New American Dream Home, the showpiece of the annual national conference of home builders.

It will be 9,506 square feet, a place Alex Hannigan, the builder, calls "an all-about-me home."

It has a guest wing, five fireplaces, three laundries, a hobby room, an elevator, a spa, a home theater, a summer kitchen, a chandelier lift -- not things that the average American can necessarily afford at the moment, Hannigan said.

But, he added, "we figured we'd make this home in keeping with where our country's going."


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