Small addition makes big impact in a 1970s rambler

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2013 - 4:38 PM

A small addition makes a big impact in a 1970s rambler, adding space for a cook’s dream kitchen, plus a cozy family room.

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It took a leaky gas stove to spark the kitchen makeover that Gene and Pat Swiridow had been dreaming about for years.

“I smelled gas when I walked into the kitchen,” said Pat. “We called 911.” As suspected, their stove was malfunctioning and required a costly replacement part. It was, after all, the original stove in their 1970s Eagan rambler.

“If we had to buy a new stove, it was time for a whole new kitchen,” Pat said.

Eight months later, the Swiridows were making meals in a new kitchen nearly triple the size of their old outdated one. The new stainless-steel appliances include Pat’s must-have double oven so she can bake bread on top and cook a pot roast on the bottom.

To create space for the Swiridows’ bigger, better kitchen, Dan Hayes, project manager for Plekkenpol Builders in Bloomington, designed a 375-square-foot addition using the existing foundation of an old 1980s three-season porch to keep costs down. The Swiridows even gained some square footage for a new cozy family room off the kitchen. Hayes also knocked down walls to open up the rest of the main floor for better traffic flow.

“With a small addition you can create the great-room feel you get in a newer house,” he said.

The Swiridows’ new kitchen, which includes a granite peninsula, is truly multifunctional. “We love to dance on this floor, too,” said Pat.

You can visit the Eagan project Friday through next Sunday at the Remodelers Showcase, which features more than 60 remodeling projects. Turn to H6.

The house

Pat and Gene Swiridow built their suburban rambler in 1973. By 1981, they had added a generous-sized vaulted three-season porch on the back that served as a party place and retreat for their family during warmer months. But it heated up fast during the day and cooled down slowly at night. “It was like a sauna in the summer,” said Pat. They rarely used it after their children moved out and they became empty-nesters.

Next to the porch was the original modest vinyl-floored kitchen with mocha-stained cabinets, one window and apartment-sized counter space. “I had to let my bread rise in the dishwasher,” said Pat, a passionate cook.

The kitchen had minimal storage cabinets, so she was constantly hiking down to the basement to retrieve the mixer and cookie sheets. “After the kids were gone, we decided to do something for ourselves,” said Gene.

Idea central

Last year, the couple toured several homes on the Remodelers Showcase with the goal of gathering ideas and finding an expert contractor, finally choosing Plekkenpol Builders because they were impressed by the workmanship on a Plekkenpol kitchen project. “That’s what won us over,” Gene said. The couple connected with Hayes and worked with him on how to achieve Pat’s top priority: “The kitchen had to be big, with a double oven.”

Resourceful recycling

After more than 20 years, the three-season porch had developed moisture issues. Hayes decided to tear it down to the foundation and build a new 375-square-foot addition off the back of the house, within the porch’s existing footprint. In the end, there was enough space for the new kitchen, as well as an adjacent family room outfitted with a stone-surround gas fireplace and TV cabinet. “Now I can listen to Paula Deen and HGTV while I’m in the kitchen cooking,” said Pat.

Space-saving peninsula

Hayes didn’t want to take space from the family room to make the kitchen wider. As a result, the new layout couldn’t accommodate a center island. “It would have been too tight,” he said.

  • related content

  • Pat and Gene Swiridow’s new kitchen makes them feel like dancing, and is big enough to accommodate it, after they built an addition to their Eagan home.

  • Lots of pull-out drawers make it easy to find pots and pans and other items.

  • The beverage cooler beneath the peninsula has proved popular with Pat and Gene Swiridow’s grandkids.

  • From top: The remodeled kitchen wasn’t wide enough for a center island, so Plekkenpol Builders designed a granite-topped peninsula for casual meals and entertaining. They added a new doorway opening to the outdoor patio. A beverage refrigerator and microwave are built into the peninsula. Most of the cabinets have accessible pull-out drawers. Walls were taken down to open up the main floor. Dan Hayes is a project manager for Plekkenpol Builders.

  • Among the built-ins that Pat Swiridow appreciates in her new kitchen is the pull-out spice rack.

  • A wall was removed that opened up the area between the kitchen and the dining and the living room.

  • The Swiridows and their contractor landed on a finish for the cupboard doors that highlighted the rope trim along the edge and added contrast.

  • Avid cook Pat Swiridow has triple the counter space in her new cheery kitchen featuring cream cabinets covered with a chocolate glaze. A double oven was at the top of her must-have list.

  • AFTER: Exterior of Plekkenpol home in Remodelers Showcase. Provided photo.

  • BEFORE: Exterior of Plekkenpol home in Remodelers Showcase. Provided photo.

  • Kitchen remodel by Plekkenpol on Remodelers Showcase.

  • Remodelers Showcase

    What: Tour of 63 remodeled Twin Cities homes featuring projects from mudrooms to whole-house makeovers. Remodeling pros will be on hand to answer questions.

    When: 1 to 7 p.m. March 22, noon to 6 p.m. March 23-24.

    New this year: Four energy-efficient homes are MN Green Path-certified.

    Events: Free seminars on kitchen design, home staging, budgeting and remodeling tips. Visit for a schedule.

    Admission: Free except for $5 for the two Dream Homes.

    Information: Go to or pick up a guidebook at metro Holiday Station stores.

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