House Still Growing: After All These Years

At 135 years of age, this Elgin house grew. Owners Janice and Chris Draxler today enjoy the practical conveniences of an expansion along with the character built into the 1880s house where they have lived for the past 25 years. 

In the summer of 2014, the Dreaxlers attached a multi-room addition to the rear of the home. They also lopped off and replaced aging porches at both ends of the residence. To finish it off, they wrapped the house in modern siding hung from its original frame. 

The couple took a practical approach by adding useful living space and convenient storage to their home. Janice, who works as human resources director for Family Service Rochester, and Chris, who is retired from the heating and ventilating industry, plan to live there awhile. Their addition, constructed by Chladek Construction, was among those featured on the 2014 Remodelers Tour held by Rochester Area Builders Inc. 


Working from concepts sketched by Janice, general contractor Brian Chladek and two of his workers attached a single-story addition on a new foundation at the rear of the house. They used two existing openings in the back wall of the house—a window in the kitchen and the original back doorway. 

The kitchen window now has grown into a full-sized door leading into a deep, walk-in pantry with a quartz countertop. “We really wanted to have a space for extra [kitchen] appliances and [food preparation] activity,” Janice says. And she uses the space, which is just a few short steps from the kitchen oven. “I made all my Christmas cookies in there,” among other foods, she says.



The pantry stacks open shelves above the countertop, instead of enclosed cabinets for convenient storage. “That was really important to us,” says Janice. Enclosed storage is in cabinets beneath the countertop, and the doors feature white, beadboard woodwork. The design reminds Janice of a farmhouse pantry.

The addition’s main hallway opens out through the original back door of the house. A laundry center is in an alcove along the hall, and it is coordinated with the same countertop and same linoleum floor as in the pantry. 

The new addition also provides enough room for an enlarged bathroom and its three-sided glass shower. It replaces a much smaller bathroom with access through the dining room, now a closed wall.

Meanwhile, the addition’s door leads out to a new deck with steps descending to the backyard. It is just the place for a quiet breakfast or a summer’s evening barbecue. The Draxlers say they do both. 


Perhaps most noticed by passers-by is the front entrance. A roofed porch with open windows and a waist-high wall had stretched across the front of the house. “It was significantly dilapidated,” contractor Chladek says. Now, the time-worn porch has disappeared in favor of lighter portico, with white columns and a peaked roof. It is just enough to shelter the home’s main entrance from the elements, with room for a few chairs. “We like to sit outside,” Chris says.

Visitors also might notice an exterior makeover, which installed modern siding in a taupe hue named “Rugged Canyon” by its manufacturer. The siding creates a seamless appearance for the house and its addition. 


While creating more space, the Draxlers also built in some of the character of the three-story residence, which they purchased in 1989. “It is an older home and we wanted to keep that [feeling],” Janice says.

Chladek’s crew salvaged the best beadboard panels from the original porch and incorporated them in the ceiling beneath the roof of the columned portico. Inside, they dressed up the doorways in the new addition with crown moldings like those in nearby rooms. Chladek worked with a millworking shop. “I was able to have them duplicate the crown, the top part,” he says.  

They also found a new vantage point for an original, leaded glass window that was removed during the project. Chladek custom-built a frame for the window and installed it in the exterior wall, where it now overlooks the rear deck and backyard.

The couple discovered Chladek through an acquaintance. When entering into a building project, “I think the most important thing is to find the right contractor,” Chris advises. “He did everything above our expectations.”

Bob Freund is a writer based in Rochester.