When Savas Tsakiris overheard the conversation, four years of planning, screening builders, fine-tuning and investing $700,000 were suddenly worth it.
"We were here and my dad was pointing out the house, emphasizing to my son the importance of staying in school and doing something with his life . . . like his father had," Mr. Tsakiris said.
Children of Greek immigrants, both Savas, a dentist, and his wife, Connie, an English teacher, believe their parents were as important to their dream home as the stucco, framing and salmon-blue color scheme -- and plan for their new home to become the family compound. Mr. and Mrs. Tsakiris hope their son and daughter will see the new home as a symbol of hope -- that goals are still attainable if they're willing to work.
"My parents live in a rowhouse in Highlandtown. It was a steppingstone to this," Mr. Tsakiris said.
"I can't believe I'm living here," said son Marc. "I don't think I'll have a house this big, but I'm really proud of them. It took a while. They used to talk about it every single night."
"The dream here is alive and well. The unattainable is attainable," Mr. Tsakiris says.
The 4,100-square-foot Mediterranean home, on nearly four acres off Falls Road in Timonium, is the culmination of four years of poring over magazines, screening 10 builders, designing, and daily visits to the construction site. The Tsakirises said the experience wasn't as awful as their friends had warned -- but only because they oversaw the job every nail of the way. Although they hired a team of professionals, they scrutinized the floor plan, computer design, landscaping and interior design.
"We're not divorced and we haven't screamed at our builder," Mrs. Tsakiris joked, adding that she also had to cope with a new job and the ordeal of selling their old house.
The house includes terra cotta tile roofs, columned foyer and dining room, spiral stairway, granite-adorned gourmet kitchen, angular rooms, built-in china closets, glass transoms, iron grating, recessed lighting, cedar closet, marble, two-story bookcase, enclosed garden and barbecue pit -- large enough to cook an entire lamb for 50 guests. Their children, 11-year-old Dorthea and 15-year-old Marc, even have "hideaways" built off of their bedrooms.
"Everything is planned. We even know where the couch will go," Mr. Tsakiris said. "Every corner is made for something to do, not just to look at."
"We plan to die here," Mrs. Tsakiris said. "That's why our bedroom is on the ground floor, so we won't have to walk up steps when we're older."
A fan of Greek windmills, Mr. Tsakiris insisted on a personal "silo," which became the two-story, octagonal family room. The blue and salmon colors throughout the house are also Greek touches, Mrs. Tsakiris said.
Three of the ceilings soar 19 feet, adorned with 18-inch molding and various transoms and grating. The master bath's ceiling is 13 feet high.
"We wanted openness," Mrs. Tsakiris said.
Even with all of the glamour, both Mr. and Mrs. Tsakiris remain philosophical. Dorthea is still a little lukewarm about the whole thing because she had to change schools and leave a neighborhood she'd known most of her life. "I told her it's not the house that makes us happy," Mrs. Tsakiris said. "It's family."