NOVI, Mich. (WJBK) - This week's Love This House is about much more than square footage and decor - it's about the people who made the Novi house a home.
A life infused with nature, art, beauty and the american dream fills the spacious home of Pat & Yianni Karimalis. It's an eclectic mix of old and new - ancient icons from Yianni's homeland of Greece, antiques collected over the years - all punctuated by bright pops of color in the many paintings that grace the walls of the Novi house they've called home for 38 years. But it doesn't stay forever.
"It doesn't stay the same house for more than eight years," Pat said. "We're always doing something, it goes from one kind of house to another kind of house."
What does stay the same is the kitchen. The couple loves to cook and entertain friends. There's always something delicious on the menu. The day we visited: spinach and cheese pies fresh from the oven. They also had a fresh salad made with olive oil from Greece. The two also make rich, delicious chocolate which they package and give as gifts
Off the dining room, Yianni's art studio where he paints most days. It's a passion he's pursued since he was a child.
"I love to paint in this area because it's so quiet with the trees and everything. It's beautiful," Yianni said. "I paint from my heart, I paint with nature, color, sadness, happiness. I paint the way I want to paint."
Born on the island of Lesvos, Yianni and his siblings grew up working on their father's farm.
"We had no running water, no electricity, the outhouse was outside. I don't change those days. It was good to go through that in my life to [get to] where I am today," Yianni said.
As a teen he trained to be a hairstylist and by age 20, he opened a salon in Athens. Yianni met Pat - who grew up in Michigan - while she was visiting relatives in Greece.
"We went to the Acropolis on our first date-quite the first date - which is quite a first date actually. It just went on from there," Pat said.
The couple married and in 1970 came to metro Detroit to start their new life together
"I always wanted to make this my home. I love this country. America is the most beautiful country. Greece is beautiful but it doesn't have the opportunities we have here," Yianni said.
Yianni seized the opportunity here building a faithful following of clients. Royalty including Princess Grace and Queen Noor of Jordan. Some of Hollywoods' biggest stars would seek out his expertise.
"I was friends with Lana Turner for many years from the 70's till the day she died," Yiani said. "People are people, some people have a title, some people have money or fame. At the beginning I was a little nervous, but after awhile it was okay, they were just people."
Twenty six years ago, yianni received a jarring diagnosis: stomach cancer. It was comedian Joan Rivers who lifted his spirits.
"I was taking chemo therapy at that time I was doing Joan Rivers' hair. One of the good memories I have from Joan - is she was a wonderful human being. I'll always admire her kindness," Yianni said.
"I was very impressed with her. It was so good for him right then - he really needed the love that she showed him," Pat said. "She was just so kind."
Nature has provided both healing and inspiration for this couple. Their backyard oasis features dozens of bird houses, old horse stables were converted into a chicken coop for their other feathered friends.
Perennial gardens, fountains and a pond- provide a touch of old world charm - the perfect setting for frequent parties with friends and numerous fundraisers. For this couple home is where the heart is and it's meant to be shared.
"In Europe we never change one house to another. Generations, a lot of times, we live in the same house. I'm attached to my house."