It’s been two decades since Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife, Lisa, began their search for that perfect home in which to raise their growing family. “We kept on finding houses that weren’t right for us,” the host of The Dr. Oz Show, 59, tells PEOPLE. “We realized we needed a place where we could build what we wanted.”
Their ideal plot ended up being on top of the Palisades, a hilly area in Cliffside Park, N.J., overlooking the Manhattan skyline. “Mehmet’s family in Istanbul likes to look at the Bosphorus Sea, so when we moved to this area, he wanted to look at the Hudson River,” says Lisa, 56. In the morning light, “it’s very calming,” adds Mehmet, who commutes to the city at 6:30 a.m. either to film his show or to treat patients at NY Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center.
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The only stumbling block was an existing house on the site that had been deemed unsafe. “You literally couldn’t even walk on the property,” Mehmet recalls. “But I got an aerial photo of the land, and I just knew it was what we needed. We bought it that day.”
Design and construction for the six-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion with 12-ft.-high ceilings and Mediterranean-inspired architecture, all orchestrated by Lisa, took two years. It has seen their four kids—Daphne, 34, Arabella, 29, Zoe, 25, and Oliver, 20—come and go.
It’s also been the venue for countless birthdays and milestones, and will continue to be for years to come, says the couple. This June, Mehmet and Lisa will celebrate 35 years of marriage. In the same month, Mehmet will turn the big 6-0. “That trumps the anniversary,” teases Lisa.
“It doesn’t trump the anniversary!” says Mehmet. “The best thing I ever did was marrying Lisa. Best thing I ever did.”
“We’re going to go far away,” he adds of their plans. “The birthday party we’ll do here and then we’ll go away for the anniversary.”
Recently the house also welcomed back Daphne, who will cohost The Good Dish (a cooking show spin-off of her dad’s series, launching this fall), and her husband, John, to the pool house as they search for a new place with their own four children.
The arrangement turned their empty nest into a family home once more. The main living area, with its endless bins of toys and comfortable leather couch, has become a fun-filled place for the Ozes to bond with their grandchildren: Philomena, 5, Jovan Jr., 4, Domenica, 2, and Giovanna, 6 months.
“I like it when the kids run into the house and they can’t wait to get in here,” says Mehmet of the welcoming space. “It becomes like a beehive.”
The health expert, who recently launched his new System 20 diet, has his own playroom in the basement: a game lover’s dream equipped with pool and foosball tables, and a basketball half-court.
While the estate also boasts a movie theater, wine cellar and gym, it’s the couple’s memories in the home that matter most. “What’s your favorite thing in this house?” Mehmet asks Lisa. She smiles at him and doesn’t hesitate: “You.”