SPRING HOME & GARDEN: A creek runs through this hidden park-like setting for Erin and Julia Russell | News

What’s black and white with green all over?

Erin and Julia Russell lived in the Bridgeview neighborhood in the northeast section of town and loved their home … until COVID-19 hit.

Coronavirus was a decisive couple of years for many. As the Russells, including their three daughters 13-year-old Grace, 10-year-old Ivy, and 3-year-old Eta, were home more. Their beloved 1,800 square-foot home became quite full, busting at the seams, they said.

Suddenly, the Russells had an unexpected solution. A friend noticed a ‘For Sale’ sign for a building lot down the street.

It was perfect since they wanted to stay in the neighborhood that contained the children’s friends and maternal grandparents, Dick and Donna Bajema.

This lot was, and is, a rarity in that it contains 1.6 acres in town with so many homes being built side by side elsewhere.

The long drive was already in place for the existing home.

The owner had decided to carve off one building lot which was what was for sale.

Although it seems spacious, due to the proximity to Fishtrap Creek, it also contains a large setback and resulted in mitigation with planting lots of trees, shrubs and a small building envelope.

Yet the lot is not too small to contain a 3,600-square-foot dream home with a bit of repositioning.

Erin and Julia went to Jerry Roetcisoender of Lynden’s JWR Design with this challenge.

He met it head on. In fact their custom design is now part of JWR’s portfolio now of ready-made designs available to others.

The result is a garage facing the drive over the creek, the front door looks out to the great lawn, and the patio is on the side of the home.

The back side is close to the property and the space is limited and used for storage.

It doesn’t pencil out on paper but works well in reality.

The team of Roetcisoender and Lynden-based general contractor Wes Wiersma of Wiersma Construction Inc., who brought the talent of his wife Erin Wiersma for interiors, worked quickly.

The lot closed in August 2020; the permitting commenced with work beginning by December 2020.

“It was such a good project team,” Erin Russell said.

Creating a new life during Coronavirus

Luckily, the Russell family was able to stay in its former home during the eight-month construction process.

The home sold quickly once on the market in July 2021 and they negotiated to stay there for a month and a half to move directly from there.

They have now been in their new home for seven months, and while the crucial things are all in place, they continue to evaluate a few decorative elements such as adding a family picture gallery in a hallway or two. Yet, they don’t want to add to much as they are quite happy as it is.

The concept is clean and crisp — large black-framed unobstructed windows letting in not only light but views of the bridge, creek, green shrubbery, trees and a red barn at a property.

The yard has both landscaping elements leading toward the entry as well as a play space coming together for the younger children.

The covered patio has lowered ceiling over the seating space for overhead heating.

Patio furniture, as with other items throughout the house, was found through Pinterest searching modern farmhouse and was directed to article.com.

A pass-through window and bar allows mom to convey food and drinks from inside to outside easily, without small feet tracking back inside.

Bar stools are set up to sit and eat snacks.

The central living area has touches of tan and green but is light and airy with a low profile couch and chairs.

Small knit footstools also double for young children to sit upon.

The footstools were a form of a replacement for not having the com-fortable recliners. Engineered white oak flooring runs throughout.

Roetcisoender and an interior decorator Erin Wiersma listened to their list of things they really wanted and incorporated detail after detail with the result making life so much easier.

The kitchen has a microwave drawer that slides out at kid-level for use and slides back in to hide.

They have a double oven so they can cook several things at once — at different temperatures. The separate gas range has a large hood.

The space has many useful cupboards and cabinets by Riverside Cabinets that contain the many things that usually sit out and clutter countertops. Not here.

Open a cabinet and find the coffee mugs.

Open the cabinet below that and there’s the coffeemaker, something much loved and used.

The white dishes are seen, green plants, small decor items.

The kitchen, living room, and dining area are wide open to each other but not to the rest of the house.

“Originally, I questioned having less counter space,” Julia Russell said. “But I do have a larger (white quartz with gray veining topped) island.”

Typical pantry, but so much more

Down the hall, and easily accessed from the entry, the garage and the kitchen is a hidden walk-in pantry behind a sliding barn door. Not only does it contain the typical pantry items but in an easy-to-reach style for children to make their lunches – from bins containing their favorite snacks. The counter has a soda stream with its syrups and a mini-fridge underneath.

Other considerations are the fact that children reside in this elegant home and have needs to be comfortable — do schoolwork, entertain friends, and comfortably store their own possessions.

Walking in from the three-car garage, the first floor hallway has impeccable storage for the whole family to take off shoes and go into the bottom drawers, coats and hats into the locker-like cupboard, and even room for sports balls and backpacks all arranged from youngest to oldest.

Off to the side of the hallway beyond the elegant cubbies is the laundry room — with matching black-and-white washer and dryer, hanging rod for drying, lots of storage and a black deep sink beneath a window.

A side door leads directly into the walk-in closet and into the master bath and bedroom.

The bath has bypassed having a tub to have a larger walk-in shower with a rain head surrounded by black-and-white tile.

The house has entrances two ways into and out of the kitchen — and also from the master bath, the walk-in closet, and the master bedroom. Everything is steps away and Julia is delighted.

It’s organized but the kind of structure that helps a family with three girls stay on track. It’s helpful but not stifling.

As for the girls, they have the upstairs for their individual vaulted-ceiling bedrooms — which they didn’t have in their prior home — as well as a space to study and a bonus/playroom with lots of windows.

It’s not just the light but the views of the creek, trees, and the feeling of being in the countryside.

While the younger set play in big space with toys coming in and out of bins, a door can be closed to give the teen set some space of their own, their mom said.

While the study space is sparse at present with a blank wall, plans are possibly to decorate with some of the girls own artwork.

As for the girls’ rooms, Roetcisoender has gifted each of them a small yet viable walk-in closet with space for clothes, toys, and cubbies.

Their personalities show with choices of princess tent, hanging swing, or with the teen sister to be afforded with her own bath with walk-in shower while the younger set share a bath down the hall.

Back to the staircase in the vaulted ceiling wide open entry, a wonderful detailed wall has given depth and interest to the white surface and something that delights Julia.

At the base of the stairs is the home office to the right which allows easy access for them to both work and look after a three-year-old and to have clients stop by.

While the computer screen is visible, everything else is stored in drawers and cabinets from printers to the sound system for the house.

Specially-created glass barn doors, created by Lynden Sheet Metal for them from a picture, slide closed for privacy.

The large family photo at the center of the living room is actually not a photo but a family photo showing on the flat screen – so it can be changed as the family grows and changes themselves.

The use of the flat screen is also in place in the master bedroom and playroom.

The school bus arrives and the sound of children comes down the lane.

They are making their way to the garage to put their things away, greet their family, and get to play and homework.


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