Dave and Mona McNay, retired air traffic controllers from Kansas City, took a gamble when they bought their Gold Canyon home remotely, before they ever stepped foot in it.
They had a vision, and they could tell the house had good bones — first and foremost, high ceilings.
The McNays know a thing or two about visions. They’ve remodeled and sold several houses. Their most recent, a Lake of the Ozarks vacation house in Missouri, sold on the same day it was listed.
“If a house has low ceilings, it will always look dated, even after you remodel it,” Mona said.
The couple bought the 3,000-square-foot Gold Canyon house in 2012 when they moved to Arizona from Kansas City after retirement.
“It was right at the very end of the recession,” Dave said. “It was a great time to buy it and save a lot of money and invest in remodeling.”
The homeowners are tackling the remodel in segments. They took care of the backyard and kitchen first.
“We entertain a lot, and I love to cook and bake,” said Mona, explaining the reason why the kitchen was a priority. “We have a Super Bowl party every year. This year, we had 40-plus people at our house and it just keeps getting bigger as we make new friends.”
Dave used his prior experience to run the project and manage the contractors.
“We took this kitchen down to the bare bones,” Dave said. “When we started the demolition, it exposed a lot of wires. We had to have an electrician come out and get that rewired. And then we took out most of this wall down to the studs just so we could have access for the correct plumbing because while you’re into it, you might as well have plumbing to hook up to the pot filler and to the ice maker.”
The total cost for electrical work and plumbing came up to $6,000 and $2,000, respectively.
The tiles for the backsplash and kitchen cabinets were the main focus for Mona and Rebecca Arteaga, the interior designer the couple hired for this project.
“Dave and I instantly fell for that color of the cabinets and the cabinet company,” said Mona of their $29,000 custom stained alder wood cabinets from Distinctive Custom Cabinetry. “We looked all over, but we kept coming back to that.”
Next, Mona and Arteaga visited Arizona Tile for the backsplash tiles, where Mona fell in love with an iridescent blue tile. The blue reminded Mona of water, and of their home on the lake in central Missouri where the couple used to spend their weekends. The color also matches the swimming pool adjacent the kitchen through the glass sliding doors to the back yard.
Dave, on the other hand, wasn’t thrilled with the vibrant color palette of the tiles.
“It was hard to tell the color from the swatches for the backsplash tiles,” Arteaga said. “So we glued them to some sheets and held them up so he had more of a visual.”
“He still didn’t seem convinced,” remembered Mona. “He said he would rather go with something ‘blah.' "
Dave said he said conservative, not "blah."
Dave ended up installing the backsplash tiles himself, at a cost of $2,000.
The original pantry was a problem for Mona.
“It had the ugliest sliding doors with glass windows,” she said. “Who wants glass windows on their pantry?”
They opted to transform the pantry into a beverage bar. Arteaga then suggested turning an existing closet near the kitchen into the pantry instead.
The original kitchen also had an 18-inch ceiling soffit. Since adding storage was important to them, the homeowners raised the cabinets all the way to the ceiling.
The spotted brown granite countertops had to go, too. They were replaced with a fresh white quartz for a total budget of $6,100.
“We just didn’t want it too busy,” Arteaga said. "We were going for a more contemporary look.”
Dave admitted he didn't like the countertop either, at first.
"But then I warmed up to them," he said.
It's not easy for three people to see eye to eye when running a project.
“But the three of us worked very well together,” Dave said. “We kept an open mind. It wasn’t just one person saying, ‘This is the way it is.’ It was everybody working together to get this huge project finished and to a place where everybody was happy with it.”
Adding the kitchen appliances ($24,000), the removal and installation of new floor tile, and extras like garbage disposal and reverse osmosis system, the McNays spent a total of $86,000 on the remodel of their kitchen.
They're planning to remodel the bathrooms and one of the bedrooms next.
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