The little white house was once part of a farm and is only 952 square feet on one acre not far from Lynden Christian High School.
The neighboring property was slowly converted from farmland into various developments during the 1980s and 1990s. John J. and Edith Grace Fischer moved to Lynden in 1965.
John died in 1989 and Edith Grace died at home of cancer in 2013.
The following year it passed from the family foundation to Kurt and Gwen Langstraat.
The Langstraats came to architect Craig Telgenhoff, President, Designer and Project Manager at CLT Design/Build Inc. to renovate an old farmhouse.
“They had no expectations,” said Telgenhoff. “It wasn’t necessarily going to be her forever home. But maybe that’s what happened.”
“Preserve the old, but with a willingness to look ahead and appreciate the new,” Telgenhoff said. “At the end of the day, not tearing down the building has soul in it.”
“There is nothing like that in the new building. It’s not just a place to occupy. You can feel the history and appreciate the future… You can also apply in a spiritual sense. To be broken, reborn and made new. The past makes us aware of who we used to be… and the hope we find.”
Telgenhoff, who studied economics, architecture, and construction management at the University of Washington, got his start in construction practices in his teens, ranging from carpentry and furniture making to taking on construction jobs, with a role at Seattle’s then-Safeco Field and being part of building a special home for Starbucks founder Howard Schultz using master craftsmen and materials.
His Lynden office was established 21 years ago to undertake new construction, commercial and general residential projects.
Telgenhoff thinks of real budgets – he thinks the processes through so that his customers don’t have to. The design process includes and can include so many details including the choice of colors and furniture if required.
Telgenhoff is no stranger to the renovation of an old house and it is not the first time. He is looking at the design and how best to use the investment money with an extension versus a full refurbishment which in the case of the Langstraats is less economical.
The annex has a great room. The old living room became the master bedroom, the old kitchen as a link between old and new, and a small bathroom for guests in a hallway.
Kurt Langstraat grew up in Lynden, one of six children, in an elderly house at 8455 Benson Road. He played basketball for the late Jake Maberry at Lynden High School and then became a musician and pastor in adulthood.
Gwen (Visser) Langstraat also grew up in Lynden. She played basketball for Lynden Christian High School, then became a wife and mother—and a nurse.
Kurt and Gwen married—a neighboring high school intermarriage—and entered ministry, which took them to other parts of Washington and other countries.
The Langstraats were last on Bradley Meadows opposite Lynden High School. They had bought an old 1917 farmhouse in the fall of 2014 to rent out and use the surrounding property for a church garden, which had to be relocated.
Kurt, the senior pastor of North County Christ the King Church in Lynden’s Fairway Center, and Gwen, director of care at Meadows Greens senior living home, determined they could reconsider the property.
First, fewer of the long-serving volunteers were available to work on the garden square to keep it viable. Second, while Kurt’s parents were now deceased, Gwen’s parents, George and Gladys Visser, were aging and they came up with the idea of creating a 770-square-foot space that would allow them to live independently, but much closer to them to be in place to age.
Your Accessory Housing Unit (ADU) was created as an apartment with a garage and wheelchair accessible ramps already in place to be ready when needed as with the rails and ADU accessible bathroom.
“It’s perfect for her,” Kurt said.
Kurt refers to the process as a payback process to buy back the home and help the family, which transitioned from housing their daughter Lindsey and husband Evan Pollock to Gwen’s parents for a time.
Her parents raised her to “be a blessing to your family.” Lindsey and her family now have 3 year old Trilby and 1 year old Winona and live on Wiser Lake.
Listening to her ideas, several friends urged her to consider tearing down the house — and “we went to the bone.”
The Langstraats discovered that behind the charm and history was rot. Even from the base of the original floors, they had to jack it up and demo, demo, demo. Goodbye to Shiplap, Sheetrock and Cedar.
Kurt kept records on his Facebook page.
With the Langstraats having sold their previous house and so much demolition work involved, they needed housing longer than expected.
A church family who spends part of the year in Florida opened their home on Langstraats – a house with intact furniture – rent-free for the required eight months. You only had to pay the additional costs.
They went to work – demonstrating buildings, earthworks, concrete foundations, raising walls, roof, demo in house, laying flooring.
In order to create something new, a lot had to go. What remained of the site was a barn and several outbuildings. What remained were some of the outbuildings—one used as a training area, another for storage, and one to house a favorite car—and the old house was incorporated into the new 2,000-square-foot home. It is distinctive with a large wrap around porch.
Upon entering, the main staircase is architecturally striking.
Caesar, the cat, makes itself felt and scurries back and forth between the family’s interlocutors.
You walk from the new part of the house to a 270-square-foot loft — with play and sewing space — above the kitchen, which has a custom stain to match the gun stock-colored hardwood floor.
A space under the stairs is used by the grandchildren for their toys.
The house is not ostentatious. It invites those in it to live.
The main decorative elements along the corridor walls are collages of family life.
In the living room, son Levi points to the many windows in the room. “Mom likes light,” he said.
An effective trick was used in the hallway: an IKEA closet for coats and other storage has been painted and blended in with paint and trim in place.
At the top of the old house and literally up the steep little staircase that remains of the old house, Kurt bows his head with the ceiling lowered. There is a specific study that Kurt uses with specifics from the family time in Taiwan at Morrison Academy, an international Christian school with three campuses in Taiwan that was founded in 1952 to educate students in a distinctly Christian environment with a quality American educate education.
The student body is made up of 80 percent Taiwanese and 20 percent international students.
The Nike company has a vibrant community in the region. In order to participate, everyone needs a passport.
The room, one of two upstairs, both with sloping ceilings, is surprisingly cozy, quaint, and quiet.
Opposite is a small, dated-fashioned guest room with a mirrored door into a small walk-in closet with a tiny chest of drawers.
Returning to the master bedroom with attached master bath, laundry room and renovated stairs to the basement now used as storage.
Closets from the old house have also been repurposed and placed next to the washer and dryer. To save space, a sliding door protects the entrance to the guest toilet in the hallway.
A window from the original house has been repurposed as a picture frame in a prominent location not far from where it was taken.
Kurt and Gwen point this out. Old house front door is used in bedroom. Old and new. new and old They live side by side.
Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is located at the “junction of the East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean,” according to Wikipedia.
There is one main island with a total of 168 islands. Many of the residents immigrated from Han Chinese under a Dutch colony in the 17th century.
Later, Japan was in control for a while and when China had a civil war, many Chinese fled the mainland to the island in 1949.
This includes General Chiang Kai-shek, who brought artifacts and stories with him.
The Langstraats have brought home their own artifacts and stories.