By Lissa Alexander

Dan McLeod left and Jeremy Humpherville standing in front of fireplace, photo by Brian Argyle

When the sun goes down on the Music by the Sea House, that’s when the magic inside begins.

“We’re creating the view inside, that’s what my job is. I can never compete with that and I don’t try,” says aboriginal carver Jeremy Humpherville, as he motions to the sweeping ocean views from the inside the Judges Row home.  “When the sun goes down I get a chance.”

Humpherville and Camelot Homes president Dan McLeod led a team of artists and builders for four years to perfect the Qualicum Beach House known as Music by the Sea. In 2012 the home won the Platinum Georgie Award for B.C. Custom Home Builder of the Year and the Gold Georgie for Custom Home over $3 million. Music by the Sea also won seven Gold Care Awards in 2012, two Silver Care Awards and the People’s Choice Award.

“And it all began with a door.”


Before the homeowners of Music by the Sea even hired the builders, they approached Humpherville at this Coombs store, Coastal Carvings, and asked him to design and build the front door. The couple began to describe their ideas for the carving involving their family, music and the ocean. And while they talked something happened to Humpherville.

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Exterior of Music by the Sea

“It was the first time a design completely drew itself in my head,” says Humpherville. “So I probably had the biggest smile on my face.”

The result was The Lost Stradivarius, a 400-pound-door depicting a violin floating in kelp and surrounded by three sea horses. The sea horses, which resemble musical notes, represent each of the couple’s three sons. The family has seen four generations of musicians and music-lovers. The mother is a former piano teacher and avid player and one of the sons is currently in a Vancouver-based band.

While Humpherville was busy working on the door, McLeod began his building plans for the custom home. McLeod worked as a carpenter for Camelot Homes in 1979 and in 1988, he bought 50 per cent of the company. Since 2002 he has been the president and sole-owner.

The homeowners suggested the two meet and work together, and neither could have predicted the results. McLeod and Humpherville became fast friends and often they shared the exact same idea.

“We think alike,” says Humpherville. “He would bring something up to me, and say ‘maybe you’re not thinking about this?’ and I would turn my computer around and I thought the same thing.”

McLeod says the initial idea was to create a timeless home, and as they worked, the themes and features progressed with the house.


Close-up of working harp built into masterful carved staircase photo by Brian Argyle

One of the most talked about features of the home is the harp built into the staircase, an idea conceived by Humpherville.

“It just occurred to me that there should be a harp,” says Humpherville. “It seemed like such an elegant thing. When any staircase is framed in, it’s a box. And to me it’s so boxy I thought there’s got to be some flow that brings you up the staircase.”

But it was no easy feat. The harp had to be strong enough to hold up the staircase, look artistic and also be playable, and that took about six months of engineering, Humpherville says. A number of local artisans were brought in to assist Humpherville and McLeod, to do specialized work throughout the house. A bronze caster, for example, made custom wrought iron railings of musical notes and kelp throughout the home, and also crafted the kelp in the mantle with 300 pounds of hand-cast bronze.

The Captain’s Quarters Den has influences of English and French tall ships from the 1600s, Russian rail cars, as well as elements of a pub or library. Humpherville says the front living area of the house which faces the sea feels like the front of a sailing vessel. The hallway resembles a galley with its grand arches and the den is at the back of the house, hence, the Captain’s Quarters.

The ceiling is a stained-glass art piece, featuring the warm colours of a maple tree, and the surround-sound system has custom filigree walnut panels, allowing for the perfect sound dispersion, Humpherville explains.

A Working harp built into masterful carved staircase photo by Brian Argyle

“When you turn the sound on there’s no impedance on the actual quality of the sound, and you don’t see a single speaker. You don’t see anything electronic.”

The room has sunken windows, a fireplace and, like the rest of the house, you don’t see any nails. McLeod explains that’s because the entire house is fit and joined by his talented team.

Three stained-glass transoms are positioned to bring sunset light into interior spaces in the hallway of the house. They depict different depths of the sea, the first showing the top layer of the ocean featuring a sailboat and waves, the second is the middle of the sea with kelp and salmon, and the third depicts the bottom of the sea with crab and rocks. Humpherville says he travelled to Portland, Oregon to choose the glass from a factory where each piece was textured and signed by the artist who made it.

Another distinctive element of the house is a large sundial that sits atop the fireplace, hand-carved from yellow cedar. The piece is called Finding My Way, with images of seahorses, kelp and shells, and took Humpherville three years to complete.


The Captains Quarters featuring an illuminated stained-glass ceiling with french doors opening to a fireplace lit patio

Both McLeod and Humpherville say the home was a result of a strong team. In the past, Humpherville has just done his part and then left. Not this time.

“Every thought was a group thought,” says Humpherville. “We’d look and say, how can this baseboard be better, how can this trim be better…and you didn’t have just one mind.”

Even the little stuff was like that, McLeod adds, for example in a space where a baseboard ended, they weren’t happy with the conventional straight edge.

“That’s what everybody would have done,” says McLeod.  “We took it and made an artistic statement.”

The home is fitted with triple pane windows, high efficiency heating, a full fire protection system, storm shutters and electronic blinds. The entire home has been spray-foamed making it air-tight, McLeod explains, and a superior ventilation system balances positive and negative pressure.

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Outdoor stone patio overlooking Qualicum Beach

McLeod says it was a bonus to have nice clients who let them have the freedom to be creative. McLeod and Humpherville remain friends and are currently working on other projects together. They also became close with the homeowners during the process and maintain that relationship today.

“I think we met the owners expectations,” says McLeod, adding with a chuckle, “and they still invite me over.”

Humpherville says he’s happy to have forged a great team, and to have built something that is timeless and beautiful.

“I’m proud, I get to sit back and say I did that.”