Saturday 30 July 2022

Three Hundred and Sixty-five Days

On July 8, 2022 the crew putting the finishing touches on my new house left for the last time. As fate would have it, this was exactly 365 days after the excavator broke ground on July 9, 2021. What a year it has been!

From the dirt and dust and drought of a Gulf Island summer....

Lily snoozing amidst the chaos.

To the fall deluge of rain that started in September and seemed to go on forever... and ever...

To a blast of fridgid mid-winter temperatures well below any seasonal normal....

And, finally, after a long, endlessly wet spring ...  completion!

On the longest day of the year - the first day of summer - the building inspector signed my occupancy permit. How better to celebrate the solstice?! The finishing touches on the house took a bit more time and as of July 8 it was all well-and-truly done.

Gleefully taking down the Building Permit notice.

Living in the little house makes me smile. The stress and the challenges of building it on a small island during a pandemic are now just memories. For a creative person there are few things more satisfying than having the seed of an idea germinate and grow, and to have it mature into into something as big as a house is an artist’s dream come true.

Atop a gentle rise, nestled among tall evergreens, angled to capture the filtered afternoon sun, the house fits beautifully into the landscape. The playful punch of the bright yellow doors adds a whimsical touch in keeping with Yellow Bird Art Studio. I like to describe the style as as West Coast Modern meets Gulf Island Charm.

Looking out from the kitchen windows, there's my vegetable garden in its deer-proof stockade, and over there is my little art studio that pre-dates the house and is complimented by the new building's angles and exterior finishes. It all makes me smile.

The interior space, with its tall ceiling and big windows, feels light and airy. The footprint isn’t large – about 1,000 square feet - but it feels bigger, particularly after spending nearly two crowded years in the small rustic cottage at the back of the property.

Unique interior touches make things interesting. There are hand-made tiles in the kitchen and bathroom  - 700 of them - that I formed and tinted and glazed one-by-one during winter hours spent at Mayne Island Clay Works. The colour scheme in combination with the organic geometry of the shapes is, to my eye, visual poetry.

The tiler's little helper

Topping off the kitchen island is a beautiful slab of re-claimed maple from my childhood stomping grounds in Aldergrove, and it is echoed in the fireplace mantlepiece. Credit for these unique pieces go to Zator’s Woodworking.

And there’s the collection of stuff – the furnishings and art and objects and trinkets – that make up my personal history: a mish-mash of styles and textiles and colours that reflect my life and my taste. 

A favourite is the pair of old William Morris style rocking chairs that came from under my late husband’s family home in Trinidad where they’d been discarded. The stripped layers of green paint revealed rich mahogany, and the chairs are finished with seat cushions adorned in colourful Madras cotton, purchased in a Caribbean market in days long gone by. They evoke fond memories of my former life and the places I was fortunate to experience.

Then there are the curtains that hung in my own family home. Originally from Ikea about 40 years ago, they were recently made long enough for my new windows by having a panel of complimenting fabric sewn in. They’re like old friends and they make the new place feel like home.

It’s not fancy, it’s not big, and it wouldn't be everyone’s dream-come-true, but I couldn’t be happier. Lily and Hugo, and now Casper – our newest team member – all seem to agree.

And now, 365 days later, it’s time to start making art on a smaller scale once again. I’m heading back into my art studio! 


  1. It sounds like you have a peace of heaven at your finger tips. Your home is suppose to have memories that warms your mind and heart. Your home is lovely. Enjoy πŸ˜‰

  2. Beautiful! Wishing you many lovely years in your new home.

  3. So pleased for you but I’m sure the hole you left in Langley is still I filled.

  4. I have tears in my eyes, you have built a house, everything completed, I am so happy for you, what an amazing accomplishment, and a n amazing home to live in forever. Congratulations my dear friend!!

  5. cristine cameron3:33 am, July 31, 2022

    S O. S U P E R. C O O L πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’πŸ†’
    Love you and Lily and Hugo. Don’t know Casper but definitely coming up to meet him. The tiles!!! The chairs!!! The mantle and kitchen island!!! The outdoor night lighting!!!! All of it is perfect. Happy for youπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’šπŸͺ΄πŸ¦’πŸ¦šπŸ™πŸπŸ΄πŸ¦„πŸ¦‰πŸΈπŸΈπŸΈ

  6. Wow, it’s lovely and so wonderful to hear you are livin the dream. All the best.

  7. Congratulations, Deborah. You did it, and it's all you. Wish you all the happiness in your new home; you deserve it and it is well earned. Suzette.

  8. Congratulations from Winnipeg, Deb. It looks fantastic!,

  9. A lovely narrative to accompany all your accomplishments with this mammoth project! You have done brilliantly. The pictures look great and I can't wait to see it in person.