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The living area features a garage door which is open throughout the summer, merging the outdoors with the indoors.

When artist Susan Macdonald set about renovating her seaside bungalow nine years ago, she approached it as an ongoing work of art. She worked on the house in sections, replacing conventional materials with concrete, rusted steel, slate, fir and cedar, creating a warm, weathered industrial look that would be timeless.

"I didn't want it to be a set-in-time house," says Macdonald. "I wanted it to be 'the older it gets, the better it gets' sort of house. The patina of time just makes it better. It will always be a cool house."

Macdonald lives along Indian River Drive, a secluded, forested area that's a 10-minute car ride from North Vancouver shopping. She inherited the property from her grandfather, Doug Welch, a 1930s construction magnate whose company built Empire Stadium, the Granville Street Bridge, and sections of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. He never lived there, but Macdonald and her husband took it over and raised their kids there, and she always hated the drab, nondescript house. Once the marriage ended, she decided to do everything she'd always wanted to do, including obtaining her pilot's license, making modern, high-end jewellery and gutting the place.

"Because I had little kids, I was working around them," she says. "And they weren't enjoying the process very much, so I had to do one section and let it rest for a year, and then do another section, and rest again. And I did the final section last summer."

The result is a perfect merger of contemporary minimalism and old-world industry. The house resembles Macdonald's jewellery pieces, which are primarily chunky iron pieces encrusted with diamonds. The renovation was a cathartic experience for Macdonald. The house represents the artistic vision she'd held for so long, but wasn't ready to realize until she transformed her life.

The house's front exterior is clad in concrete and rusted metal, which, Macdonald did herself.

"I think of it as a big sculpture because it was so much work to do that. We had to do it in sections, and we had to pour it all by hand. It took a long time and a lot of people with buckets walking back and forth. But it was a fun thing."

Macdonald, a jeweller, goldsmith and sculptor, designed every part of the house herself, and was intensely involved in its creation. The rusted parts – such as handles, pulleys and giant bolts protruding from walls – came from a railway yard. The pulls on the custom cabinets in her bedroom are made of twisted old railway fasteners. If she couldn't find old rail bits and pieces, she'd rust the hardware herself. For the handles on her kitchen cabinets, she tumbled them in a concrete mixer filled with sea water and rocks, then left them in the sun to achieve the rusted weathered look.

Macdonald spent years collecting other people's junk and storing it in her garage, knowing that one day she'd have a use for it all. Her front door entrance is a set of old jail house doors, complete with big peep holes and a sliding window through which the prisoners would have received their meals. In the high ceiling of the kitchen, Macdonald has hung an antique canoe upside down, with the potlights recessed inside the paddles. In the main floor bathroom, there is an antique drill press attached to the concrete counter top. "The fun part was looking for all this stuff," she says.

The house has three pulley systems, counter-weighted by old rusted railway switches, the size of bread loaves. In the living area, there's an actual garage door that she keeps open throughout the summer, merging the outdoors with the indoors. The builder who installed it did so reluctantly, and angrily, convinced it would be so drafty he'd have to return to take it out again. He was so bothered by the job he didn't charge her, and that was nine years ago.

Now, having completed her art house, she is ready to move on. The house is on the market for $10.2-million, because she doesn't need so much space. The kids are grown. Also, she has a new project in mind.

"I want to do a floating home and start from scratch and make it something really cool," she says. "This house was kind of my life. But I don't like sitting around."