David and Frances Guida owned one home before they built their dream house.
For 20 years in that first 1,500-square-foot "cookie-cutter" house, they happily raised two kids and saved for their next step.
David's dream was a custom home on a hillside.
Still, David was conflicted about leaving the first house and they waited six months to put it up for sale. Frances was ready to go.
"Both our kids were born there and did all their growing up there," she said. "But I was ready to leave because we were bursting at the seams."
They quickly learned to love the new home, all 5,700 square feet of it. They've been there for 14 years now.
"It's what we expected and then some," said Guida, 58, a retired car salesman who eventually bought a dealership and retired at 46.
The house near 51st Avenue and Beardsley Road includes a great room, game room, four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and a utility room with laundry and office space. It took three years to build, including six months of land grading with a tractor and jackhammer almost every day before the house could even be built.
"That was the worst part," David said. "They had to dig into pure rock."
The Guidas made a list of their most important wants for the design, and the architect incorporated all of them.
Chief among the goals: maximum views.
"We stood on the lot and said, 'We have to be able to see this view,' " David said. "That's why we bought on a mountainside. We wanted big windows and a round room. The sunset looks amazing from the house. Everywhere you go, you have a great view."
Frances, 57, said the design and building process took a lot of energy.
"I was here every day with the builder and we were constantly changing things and seeing what worked and what didn't," she said.
For Frances, a high school culinary-arts teacher, the kitchen was paramount.
"It's the center of the house and where everyone gathers," she said. "I wanted a big island and a breakfast area and lots of cabinets. We also wanted a walk-in pantry. There is nothing I would change in the house. We've added some things over the years, but regarding the design of the house, we wouldn't change anything."
The Guidas landscaped the backyard, added a backsplash in the kitchen, changed some flooring, added pendant lighting in the kitchen and a chandelier over the master bathtub, but most of the house has remained as built.
The homeowners like that the large footprint is great for entertaining, yet has lots of cozy spots for solitude or intimate conversations. The Guidas host many holidays and parties, particularly for Frances' school colleagues.
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"Everyone can mingle without being cramped," David said. "You don't have to yell and scream. We wanted openness, and we can get 10 to 20 people in the kitchen. This house is definitely too big for two people - there's no question about that - but it's perfect when people come over."
The Guidas were high school sweethearts at Peoria High School where Frances was a cheerleader and David was a football player. They have a daughter, 31, and a son, 29. Their daughter left for college right when they moved in to their current home, and their son lived there while he attended high school.
"Our daughter wishes that she could have lived here, but she's had her share of parties over here to make up for it," Frances joked. "Eventually it might end up being too much house for two people. But for now, it's good. It's home. We worked hard to get here, so we're going to enjoy it."
The Guidas said they believe people can have more than they may think possible if they work toward the goal steadily.
"Think about what you want and what you can do, and don't sell yourself short," Frances said. "I'm so conservative and David always pushes the envelope and makes me go for more. I don't think I would have built a house this big without his influence — I don't know if I would have dreamed it."
The couple spends most of their time in the kitchen and the great room and love to be home.
So, do they miss their first house, the one they couldn't part with for six months?
"I don't think we ever miss the old house," Frances said, "but we do revisit the memories."
They've also made wonderful memories in the new house. And if they ever downsize, they'll take those memories with them as well.
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