Building a Dream

Visiting a brand new house is a treat. Especially one that I have been tracking the development of for two years: the home of Stewart and Jaime-Lynn Dyck. Great progress has been made – now just left to do is the landscaping and some other finishing touches. First impressions: it is a lovely home, with lots of character, quality, and individuality. Stewart and Jaime-Lynn have brought much to the process. They are the owners of the magazine you are reading right now, “Design Your Home.” The same curiosity, thoroughness, and dedication that fuels the magazine has also inspired this project.

During five years of publishing the magazine, they encountered many good ideas. As Jaime-Lynn says, “We filed away in our brains things we liked.”

Lessons learned? The first: be prepared for the commitment involved. Stewart and Jaime-Lynn were the general contractors, in charge of designing the plans, securing sub-contractors, picking out materials, and supervising the work. If you are up to the task, seeing the final result the way you want is a sweet reward.

The second lesson goes back to the beginning. I asked them early on: what is most important when you design and build your own home? Jaime-Lynn had replied with a laugh, “Go in with a good relationship with your spouse!”

Any relationship will be tested over the whole process. Think of the effort and decisions involved: preparing the old house for sale; sorting, decluttering, and storing possessions; finding an alternative living space for the interim; the actual building; moving (twice!); and, finally, the finishing touches.

No need to ask them about relationships now. They have a sense of satisfaction and ease as they enter the last phase of a long project. They are in a good place.

The third lesson: you can make your home more creative than you first might imagine. Stewart and Jaime-Lynn note that we folks here in Westman often go along with the standard, the regular, the normal.

There are lots of creative ideas out there. Two ways they find helpful are visiting the website and sharing ideas through Pinterest. They have also benefitted from visiting friends and checking out show homes in other cities. Stewart and Jaime-Lynn conclude that residents in other places – like in Calgary and on the West Coast – are bolder and more ready to try out different things. The bottom line: you don’t have to do something just because everyone else does it that way.

The fourth lesson: take your time. Stewart and Jaime- Lynn have taken the time at every stage – to ask more, to research more, to ponder more. Looking around, Jaime- Lynn says, “We put thought and conversation into every single thing in this house.”

Many pieces fit together to make the whole. Take the electrical, where it helps to have a contractor who is ready to work with you, listen to you, and be open to new ideas. Stewart and Jaime-Lynn consider themselves fortunate to have chosen the electrical division of Badger Creek Plumbing & Heating as their sub-contractor for this component.

Or consider flooring. As with other elements, they wanted something to fit their family lifestyle, which includes their eight-year-old daughter as well as their working from home. “We wanted flooring,” Jaime-Lynn says, “that would take abuse and not show it.”

They selected Kraus Soreal Chalet laminate flooring from RONA J&G Supply. They were able to take home a large sample to put in different places and in different lighting to see how it would look. Stewart points out that material may not have the same appearance in your home as it does in the showroom.

Then there is the last lesson. If you have the opportunity, leave some pieces undone and allow ideas to blossom as you actually live in the house. This is especially the case, as it is with them, with a larger house and spacious yard in a rural setting. Things can look different over the course of a day and over the course of the seasons. Examples include some lighting, window coverings, accessories, and landscaping.

Working with trusted suppliers is important in this ongoing process. They had Budget Blinds do an in-home consultation, which included measuring all windows. Now, as Stewart and Jaime-Lynn decide on a window treatment, they place their order. Budget Blinds fills their request, using the measurements already on file.

Stewart and Jaime-Lynn have put a lot of themselves into designing and building their new home. As they settle in, they are going to let the last inspirations come as part of a larger interaction.

“Now,” Stewart says, “we are going to let the house speak to us.”