Fresno Extreme Makeover Home Tour

March 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno's Extreme Makeover episode aired Sunday night and we just showed you how the city reacted; now, let's get a look inside.Action News Anchor Warren Armstrong received an exclusive tour of the extreme makeover house in central Fresno from the Riojas family.

A dream came true for Mary Ann Riojas and her family thanks to "Extreme Makeover Home Edition". They said waking up in their new home and knowing it's all "real" is incredible.

Mary Ann Riojas said, "Its overwhelming for a while. But I think now it's beginning to settle in. Yes, this is my home."

It's a home like Mary Ann has never had, starting right at the front door. No more ramps, she can roll right in. And when someone comes for a visit, getting to the door and opening it is no longer a problem. There's plenty of space in the entry way.

Mary Ann said, "Just a simple thing like being able to answer your door and greet someone; It's huge .. It just adds independence."

Born with no legs and only one fully developed arm, Mary Ann has been fighting for her independence all her life. The extreme team wanted her new house to be safe and free of the obstacles she faces in everyday life. "This is the first place... You know... Say .. That I can live in. That I can get to anything I want to do and not have to ask for help. It's amazing!" said Mary Ann.

The wide entry way opens to a spacious area where Mary Ann can easily roll on hardwood floors from the cozy living room to the hi-tech kitchen to the elegant dining room and back around the double-sided fireplace with no barriers.

In the kitchen, Mary Ann can finally see the food in her cooking pots and not get burned reaching across the stove. The counters are low and stainless steel major appliances are positioned where she can touch them.

Even higher cabinets are no problem; thanks to what Mary Ann calls her new "Cadillac of wheelchairs". "The show also gave me the chair which does rise up to a level if I can't reach something. So, they even made sure I was taken care of in that way. It does rise pretty high. You know, if I had to reach something up higher, I would be able to do so," said Mary Ann.

The hallways are wide enough for Mary Ann's chair to roll into any room in the house, especially her bedroom retreat; Ty Pennington's special project.

A custom bed designed by Ty means no more mattresses on the floor for Mary Ann. "He put this railing around the outside so that way if I had to I can get around to any side of my bed."

From the bathroom sinks to the shower head it all fits Mary Ann.

The push of a button starts this rotating clothes rack spinning in Mary Ann's huge closet. Everything is within her reach. The bedrooms of Mary Ann's four children are their favorite places in the new house. 15-year old Angel's room is a high tech wonderland based on his fascination with the technology of Tokyo.

"How does this room compare to your old room in your old house?" asked Warren Armstrong.

"It blows it away.. Out of the water ... You don't even know ... Like my other room was bare," said Angel.

14-year-old Jessie's room is the flipside of her brother's amusement park. The Asian theme with a bamboo bed, fountain, and sky blue ceiling creates a relaxing retreat. "And now that I have my own room...my own bed and my own space... It's just so awesome!" said Jessie.

Up the stairs, the entire second floor is the multi- colored bedroom of 18-year old Nichole and 17-year old Victoria.

"The theme of the room is not only San Francisco .. It's also day and night. They always call me and Nichole 'day and night'. So, I'm 'day' and she's 'night'."

The girl's share the dual identity room but it features three colorful, hand-painted dividers that slide out on a rail.

"You know... It's like we have our own space. One side is for my sister, one side is for me and that's all I really wanted was my own space," said Nichole.

Nichole and Victoria can't hide from mom in their upstairs room. A recently installed chairlift gives her access to the second floor.

"This takes me right up the stairs at a safe speed and I don't have to worry about getting up the stairs myself," said Mary Ann.

Despite all the gadgets and gorgeous bedrooms the Riojas family actually finds themselves spending more time together; especially in the kitchen.

"I mean we were close as it was. We did a lot of things together as a family. But the show has actually brought us closer," said Mary Ann.

An unexpected, but welcomed benefit from a special house, built with love and respect for a special family.

DeYoung properties hopes to add the floor plan and design of the Riojas home to their product line. They want more people to enjoy the freedom of living in a home equipped for their special needs.

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