Inside the DeVries house

Published 3:34 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Dirk and Susan DeVries family opened the doors of their new “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” house Saturday in what was a fundraiser for Hollandale Christian School.

A little more than two months ago, “Extreme Makeover” producers knocked on the door of the family to tell them they would be receiving a home makeover.

Volunteer contractors demolished their house Oct. 2 and built their new home in about 100 hours. The house was finished on Oct. 5, and then on Oct. 7, a rain-soaked crowd of onlookers yelled, “Move that bus!” while the DeVrieses stood wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the surprise of seeing their new house.

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Because so many people from the community had helped make the house a possibility, the family wanted to open it and show it.

Eager area residents who came to the tour were first led to the family’s new garage, where they took off their shoes before they walked into the house.

Then, upon entering the house, the first stop was Susan’s new craft room, which had been stocked full of scrapbooking and other supplies before the family saw the house for the first time.

Sara Jensen, who has two children at Hollandale Christian School and who was staffing the craft room Saturday morning, showed people a rock that Susan had painted with a rabbit on it. She explained that a similar rock has gone for $600 at the school’s auction before.

She said she was grateful for the DeVries family’s generosity.

After the craft room was the kitchen, which is also part of a large open space with the dining room and the living room.

Different floral arrangements and wreaths donated by area businesses adorned the walls and tables.

“They’ve really enjoyed it,” said Tammy Peterson, a part-time custodian at Hollandale Christian School, about people going through the house. “Many thought it was neat how it went together so quickly and turned out so good.

She said she is happy the DeVries family has been blessed.

After people went through the living room they were directed to the hallway, which connects the other half of the H-shaped house. The hallway has two milk cans that came from Susan’s grandfather’s farm, Hollandale Christian Kindergarten teacher Deb Louters said.

“Everybody’s been so supportive,” Louters said, concerning comments she’s heard of people going through the house. “They seem so thankful for the family and the opportunity they’ve given the chance to look at the house.”

The first bedroom through the hallway was the master bedroom, which features a headboard made of pieces form the family’s old house, a piece of artwork placed above the bed made of old siding and other recycled materials, diaries of Susan’s grandmother, and artwork of second- and third-graders at the school.

That bedroom was celebrity Ty Pennington’s special project to design the week of the makeover.

Next was the bedroom of Hanna, the youngest daughter of the family.

The room has a naturalistic scene painted on the walls, and it expresses much of Hanna’s personality, Hollandale Christian School Principal Lisa Vos said.

The principal noted that people have been “very complimentary, very excited” about the house.

“What a wonderful opportunity to really open your house to the community for people who were involved,” she said.

At one end of Hanna’s room there was a door that led to a bathroom, which connected to daughter April’s room.

April’s room included artwork made of many recycled materials, including books, records and coffee filters. Old newspapers were incorporated into the base of the bed.

Then, at the end of the hallway was the room of Derik, the only son of the family. Derik’s room featured many items made of duct tape, including a headboard, chairs, a lamp stand, curtains and even a bedspread.

“It’s amazing, absolutely amazing,” said LaChelle Sandon, of Albert Lea, who was taking the tour of the house. “They’re so deserving.

“It’s really neat for us to see and for them to allow us into their home.”

It was a great experience — even for kids — to see, she said.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Susie Petersen, who helped organize the event, said there had been a sense of excitement from people who walked through the house. People are also thankful they have the opportunity to see it.

“What you see on TV, there’s so much more,” Petersen said.

While tours were given, local artists, including Julie Stoneking, Roxanne Irons, Jill Stevens, Lora Virgil, Sharon Astrup-Scott and Brock Besse played the DeVries family’s new piano.

Jared and Shanna Dawson were scheduled to perform music outside of the house, and the Albert Lea High School Caroliers were there too.

The tour came a week after the show aired on television.

People who attended the tour were encouraged to bring one food item for the Albert Lea Salvation Army food shelf.