Cindy and Steve Finden were engaged to be married when they started searching for a family home in 2004. They would need a property for their newly blended family, which included two sons, a daughter, and a Newfoundland dog.
A five-bedroom, four-bath Colonial in Bala Cynwyd made for a promising listing.
"We walked in and [Steve] said, 'Wow, that's a staircase to get married on,'" Cindy said.
A year later, they did. Cindy's 95-year-old father walked her to the ceremony, which took place on the home's gracious and soaring front porch.
Since then, the Findens and their children have celebrated a lot of milestones on that same porch.
"It was our place to go and handle life," Steve said. "We would sit out there in the summer with our fan going and watch the fireflies and sit out there in the winter with our Christmas tree inside."
"We lived a lot of our life there," Cindy said. Fans and space heaters helped the family treat the porch as another room. "It was very rare that the weather was so unruly that we couldn't enjoy the porch as an extra room," she said.
Now they look back on the porch as the space where their family came together.
"We moved in as our kids were turning into surly teenagers," Steve said. "They were still kids but they were sort of on the cusp. They grew up there."
Steve and Cindy would often sit on the porch and watch family and other guests play football or ultimate Frisbee.
"From our wedding to our bar mitzvahs and and graduations, we were the playground," Steve said.
"The house was just filled with laughter from the first night," said Cindy.
The home itself had been reconstructed after an extensive fire destroyed it in 2000. By the time the Findens bought it in 2004, there was not much work left to be done. The couple restored the pillars on the porch, and added gates and a fence to the acre-lawn.
In the intervening decade, they refinished the kitchen, adding new range and stovetop and double ovens. They converted a coat closet into an oversized pantry. More recently, the couple renovated the master bathroom, adding a large shower made from a single slab of quartzite.
"It's just spectacular," said Cindy.
In addition to the master suite, the home also includes a third-floor bedroom with large sitting area, which was often used as a separate apartment space for Steve's mother during long visits from California.
Outside, the grounds include professionally landscaped areas alongside large gardens that the Findens have maintained over the years. They include orange and lemon trees as well as Bougainvillea. A small playhouse out back (which is wired for electricity) has served as a gardening shed. The home also includes a large rear deck and patio.
"I could have 60 people over," Cindy said. "It's such an open flow."
Last week, the Findens moved out to get ready for their relocation to Arizona. Younger friends were helping them move the boxes. A football game broke out. "It was fun to watch," Steve said. "It's a reminder of what this house needs."
The couple is moving to the desert to take advantage of some health benefits.
"You wake up there and your bones don't hurt," Cindy said.
The home is currently listed by Linda Z at RE/MAX for $1,699,000.
"It was an honor to live in this house," Cindy said. "We honored her with everything we did."