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Eight months later, the Swiridows were making meals in a new kitchen nearly triple the size of their old outdated one.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.

Instead, Hayes designed a long granite-topped peninsula at the entrance, which serves as a place to sit for casual meals. It also holds a built-in microwave and beverage refrigerator. “It’s perfect for serving buffet-style at family gatherings,” said Pat.

Walls came tumbling down

Since they were remodeling the kitchen, the couple decided to also transform the main floor, from closed-off and confining to open and airy. Hayes’ design plan included tearing down walls to open the new kitchen to the existing dining and living rooms. New oak floors help connect the old and new spaces.

Goodbye, popcorn ceiling

To turn the main floor into one cohesive space, Hayes replaced the popcorn ceiling with an updated painted flat ceiling.

Creamy neutral backdrop

“White is too stark,” said Pat, who chose a warm cream-colored painted finish accented with a chocolate glaze for the cabinets. The cabinet hardware and light fixtures are oil-rubbed bronze. “You don’t see glazing that much — it’s a three-step process to get that look,” said Hayes.

Pull-out paradise

The majority of the cabinets do not have doors but rather easy-access, pull-out drawers that hold everything from pots and pans to spices. “I’ve had two knee replacements, so I can’t do a lot of bending,” said Pat.

Glad they did

The Swiridows followed Hayes’ suggestion and put in a doorway on a kitchen wall that opens to the back-yard patio. Now it’s easier to bring food out to the patio for grilling.

Best part

For Pat, the kitchen is a cook’s dream with high-tech, push-button appliances, an efficient layout and endless counter space.

“I can roast a turkey in one oven, cook a pizza in the other one, and let my bread rise on the counter,” she said.


View photos of the remodeled Eagan home at