A recipe for kitchen remodeling

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Jill: I'm picturing what it's like every time you renovate. There's a big hole in the wall and two paramedics."

Tim: "First of all, I'll make no holes in the wall. And you know what? It might be kinda cool to see Dave and Biff again."

- From the TV series "Home Improvement"

Home remodeling projects are rarely easy or without stress - on wallets or domestic relations.

Ty and Diane McEuen handled both when they remodeled the kitchen in their 1960s-built Walla Walla home.

They added heated floors, efficient storage, a fireplace, and did all the work themselves except for the counters, cabinets and electrical wiring.

It was 13 months of disruption and sawdust in the center of their home, they said. But with good planning and a sense of humor, the results have turned out to be stunning.

"And we're still married," Diane laughed.

Theirs is one of eight featured kitchens in this year's Walla Walla Kitchen Tour, a fundraiser for the local chapter of the American Association of University Women on Sunday from noon-5 p.m.

The McEuens, who live at 1317 Lowell Drive, are math teachers, so being involved in AAUW's scholarship fundraiser was a natural.

Learning, too, was a big part of their foray into remodeling.

The goal was to expand and make their kitchen more efficient.

"It had been remodeled (before) and they changed the original footprint," Ty said.

They had a little construction experience before they started, but they gained a lot more as they went along. Diane's father worked with heating and air conditioning installation. Ty's father and grandfather were contractors.

"I did the framing growing up," Ty said. So with that experience plus help from friends and professionals, they made a plan and got started.

The couple said they learned by trial and error, lots of error.

"It's important to not be afraid to make mistakes," Ty said. Another common pitfall is to always want things to be perfect the first time.

They spent quite a bit of time planning the kitchen remodel and working out the proportions and colors. Diane has a talent for color combinations, knows what she wants and isn't afraid to change her mind.

Because of their teaching schedules, they were able to work intensively on the kitchen during the summer.

The kitchen now is larger and very functional, with dark-stained maple cabinets with easy pull-out shelves, all placed strategically for ease of use.

The kitchen floor, which took several days to install, now consists of large ceramic tiles laid over a heated grid,. Ty said it's configured like an electric blanket.

"We had never laid a tile before," he said. "We had a friend come over and get us started."

Since it can be hard to tell from looking at one tile in a store what a whole floor would look like, Diane said, at one point they had one of the aisles blocked with tiles she'd laid out to see the overall look.

"Before we ever swung a hammer, everything was planned out," Ty said.

The McEuens estimate that they spent about $32,000 on materials including cabinets, lights, appliances and windows.

"The only labor we paid for was the electrical, and we figured we saved $10,000-$15,000 in (other) labor costs by doing the work ourselves," Diane said. "We estimate the whole room at about $42,000-$50,000."

But they now have a comfortable kitchen and dining area, where they can have great conversations with their two children during family meals.

Or when visitors on the Walla Walla Kitchen Tour drop by.

Karlene Ponti can be reached at 509-526-8324 or karleneponti@wwub.com

IF YOU GO:

The 9th annual AAUW Walla Walla Kitchen Tour will be held Sunday, with kitchens open for touring from noon-5 p.m. Eight kitchens are featured, ranging from a late-1800s home to a 1990s "traditional contemporary" remodel. Tickets for the scholarship fundraiser are $20. They are available from Earthlight Books, 321 E. Main St.; Bright's Candies & Gifts, 11 E. Main St.; and Jacobi's Cafe, 416 N. Second Ave. Participants begin the tour by exchanging their tickets for maps and booklets at Jacobi's.

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