Linda Johnson had been waiting for her Prince Charming all of her life.

He showed up at a square dance class where she tried to help him learn some new moves. With a few kicks and turns, Ken Johnson swept her off her feet and the two married 12 years ago.

Together, they are building their castle one board and one ceramic tile at a time.

“My husband and I have done most of the work,” she said. “We’ve done it with a hook and crook, and read a lot of books.”

They have had help from a friend, Conley Matlock, who is a Tahlequah contractor. He’s given them suggestions but they have done much of the work themselves.

Ken had owned the home just off Harris Road about four years before the marriage. It is convenient to his work at Grant Prideco.

“It wasn’t much when we got married,” he said. “It was all paneled. We started with a little bit at a time. We enjoy doing it ourselves. It’s not like the big, rich homes. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s ours.”

The house was built in the 1960s and looked like it, Linda said. It was built of concrete blocks and almost every wall was covered in dark paneling. The rooms were small. Someone before them had turned a garage into a den, which helped make the home about 1,800 square feet. It’s now more than 2,800 square feet with an open, airy feel, Linda said.

Mary Anne Munzenrider, a good friend of Linda’s, said the two met at a bowling league more than 20 years ago. She’s followed the transformation of the home.

“The house started out as an ordinary cement block home,” Munzenrider said. “They’ve put siding and brick on the outside. It’s totally different from the way it started. It was a fairly small home, adequate nice home.”



The transformation

Linda, who is employed with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, is a big believer in buying locally. She is quick to tell visitors where each item in the remodel came from.

Just inside the front door, the small carpeted area was the living room. Eventually, it will have a hardwood floor and become the formal dining room. A wall was been taken out between that living room and the kitchen. Fluted white columns with white molding frames the opening between the two areas making it much more open.

The kitchen is Linda’s dream. Her mother, Ginger McKenzie, who lives next door, said the new kitchen had made Linda a “super good cook.”

Ken agreed. Her Mexican and Chinese dishes are tasty and she can really cook up a “good” steak.

It’s much more fun to prepare a meal when everything is right where Linda and Ken wanted it to be. Woodworthy Inc. of Muskogee built the cabinets to their specs. Ken added dentil molding for detail. The couple stained the maple cabinets with a gel stain from Lowe’s.

“We made everything convenient,” Linda said as she pulled out rolling drawers, and bins for potatoes and tea towels. “Glass doors on the end cabinets give it more depth.”

A tile inset in the backsplash behind the cook top was special ordered from England. It is “the most expensive thing in the house.” It is inset in cream tile that was a gift from Linda’s cousin, in Dallas. Her sister-in-law, Cheryl McKenzie, and niece, Emily McKenzie of Coweta put the tile up.

The kitchen has a center island with a double light fixture from Sooner Salvage. The countertops are from Slape Cabinets. The kitchen is decorated with chefs in all shapes and sizes. Mill Creek Carpet and Tile laid the tile floor. They raised the ceiling and gave it a barrel look, which Linda loves.

At the end of the kitchen is a green antique stove Linda found at a local antique mall. Next to it is an antique “bachelor” refrigerator.

The kitchen took a year and a half to complete.

“You save a lot of money when you do it yourself,” Ken said. “It’s more enjoyment when do it yourself.”

He said they go to different houses on home tours and look at a lot of magazines.

“If it wasn’t for her — she helps me all the time,” he said.

When it comes to the heavy work, he calls on his sons, Mark , Ryan and Kurt. They helped him with hang the 12-foot Sheetrock.

“We just take money from overtime and save it and put into the house,” Ken said.



Come into the master

The master bedroom was originally the garage, which became a game room with a pool table when Ken’s sons lived at home. It has a curved brick fireplace that is now painted a soft gold. Linda created an animal theme with the help of her mother, who is an artist. McKenzie painted a tiger and giraffe that is framed on the walls.

The added can lights and green carpet. Above the bed is a recessed oval where the ceiling fan is. The gold walls have white crown molding.

A master closet is 8x24 and is designed for a woman like Linda who had no children and likes clothes and shoes, she said with a laugh. Ken built her bins for 30 pairs of shoes.

A master bath was added using space from what was the laundry room. It is handicapped accessible with a seat in the chocolate marbled tile shower done by Mill Creek. Dickmann Glass Co. did the glass doors on the shower, Linda said.

Slape Cabinets added the counter top, “Buckskin Canyon by Mysteria,” which looks like granite. The floor is “Toasted Almond Travata” tile.



Spacious additions

At the back of the home, they built a 24x36 great room six years ago, which is just the right size for the 60-inch TV with surround sound. When Ken’s three sons and their families come over, it gives them plenty of room for fun family gatherings.

It holds many family treasures like photos of Ken and Linda as children, a hook rug Linda and her mother made together 30 years ago, and a large Victorian scene painting that once belonged to Linda’s grandmother. It hung in her home on K Street, where Linda grew up next door.

A smoking stand holds pipes and tobacco tins as a memory of Linda’s father, Arthur McKenzie.

A display near the laundry room at the end of the room has an old candlestick phone. A painting above is of a woman on a similar phone.

They built on a two-car garage and sun room on one end of the house last summer and are remodeling the two bedrooms on the other.

“We put in the glass blocks ourselves,” she said of the glass in the sun room.

Linda called her style of decorating “eclectic.” She collects several things, including toys, which will be displayed in one of the bedrooms when the home is complete. Another group of collectibles, patriotic items, will be in the “Uncle Sam computer room,” an original bedroom that is being redone.

“We are very patriotic,” Linda said. “Ken is retired National Guard after 21 years.”

When the house is complete, they would like to add a swimming pool, decks and do more landscaping.

“We’re proud of what we’ve done,” Linda said. “Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to know it’s real.”

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