Spotted in High River...

 The decision to downsize sparked a series of events and milestones that have been happening since March. In that time, we’ve experienced an emotional and intellectual roller coaster ride. We haven’t shared any specifics on Birdsong Studio 3.0 because the details and contracts were still being worked out. In these domino-like real estate transactions, nothing is certain until it is certain. Grand plans and proposals could dissipate with a slight change in wind direction.  

In May, we officially purchased a lot in downtown High River. Working with a Calgary company called Seed Homes, our new home and studio have been designed and engineered. Construction will happen in July.

Heather has taken on the role of project manager on the new build, working closely with the team at Seed Homes. She has an excellent design mind and has worked through myriad decisions from tile selection to window placement, appliance purchases to room layouts. She's also been working on the landscaping design, which is why we returned from our recent trip to Vancouver with a car full of bamboo plants. My focus has been to keep painting and serving our Ideal Protein and AirBnB clients. My role with the new build has been more of a cheerleader. 

The new home will arrive on trucks, be placed on a series of engineered screw piles, and unfold. In a short couple of days, our new bungalow will be move in ready. The studio building will go through the same process a few weeks later. They will be manufactured with sustainable material interior finishes, large windows, hemp batt insulation, and shingle-free roof systems. We have also opted to make the capital investment in solar panels. They will provide all our electrical and heating needs, as we are also investing in in-floor electric heating. 

How did this all come about?

Stephen Morgan, the CEO of Seed Homes, did a series of videos during the Okotoks Trade Show which caught Heather’s attention. At the same time, while looking at homes in High River, we drove by this lot that was for sale. We booked a meeting at their south Calgary manufacturing facility the next day. It all unfolded from there.

Through this whole process, I was in rehearsals and performances for the Dewdney Players production of Twelfth Night. That turned out to be a healthy distraction, as it allowed me to shut off everything else. Now that the play is done and all the deals signed and sealed, I'm getting a taste of what our new situation is going to feel like. I like it a lot. There will be less pressure to produce and sell, more freedom. 

What are 5 things that excite me about our Seed Home?

1. Solar panels - the reality of being able to generate our own power is very exciting, and will not only lessen our negative impact on the environment, it will virtually eliminate those crazy energy bills that show up in the cold months.

2. Recycled plastics - a company called Trusscore is providing all the material for our walls and ceilings. The use of drywall, while cheaper in the short term, generates an incredible amount of waste (during installation and years from now, during demolition). The minimal waste that gets created with the installation of Trusscore wall panels actually gets recycled and reused as feedstock for more wall panels. 

3. North light - we will have a row of four big windows on the north wall of Birdsong Studio 3.0. North light will offer us a whole new creation experience.

4. Smart downsizing - the decision to decrease our physical space demands that we simplify our lives and possessions. It also means we've been able to greatly reduce our debt. The financial freedom of that decision is significant. 

5. Partnership - Seed Homes is not only our home builder, they feel like a partner. We are invested in their choice as a company to go in this direction and are honoured to be their very first build of a Seed Home. There is a great sense of satisfaction and joy in sharing their story and how they want to use their technology and expertise to provide an environmentally sustainable option for the world.

I’m not sure how this downsizing journey will influence my painting journey, only that it will. Much like rain from a cloudless sky (which we experienced a few days ago), there is beauty in a good mystery. 


  1. Sounds this an exciting adventure Russell and Heather!

  2. This sounds like an exciting adventure! Wishing you good luck with your build and relocation!
    Carole Stoyand
    Kamsack, SK

    1. Thank you so much Carole. When it is done, I look forward to returning to Kamsack for a visit. It'll be nice to spend time with my parents.

  3. This is absolutely fantastic! Your journey of downsizing and embracing sustainability is both inspirational and thought-provoking. It's encouraging to see companies like Seed Homes stepping up to provide environmentally-conscious solutions. The innovative details like the use of solar panels, recycling plastics, and even the intentional window placement for natural light speaks volumes about the efforts going into this project. As someone also contemplating an investment, your shared experience has sparked a genuine interest in potentially pursuing a similar route. Your story has truly enriched my perspective on future plans. THIS MAY BE THE RIGHT DIRECTION FOR ME TOO! Thank you for sharing your journey and promoting a greener world.

    1. Thank you! The SEED Homes teams is super intentional. It's been a journey, one we are happy to share.

  4. This is just a beautiful adventure! You will be leading the way for many who have wondered about this whole idea of down sizing! Can't wait to see it all unfold...literally! ;)

  5. Very exciting! Love your analogy "Much like rain from a cloudless sky (which we experienced a few days ago), there is beauty in a good mystery." Bravo!!

    1. I suggested to my son, a musician, that "rain from a cloudless sky" should find its way into one of his songs. LOL.


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