I sometimes think that kids and dogs can sense an essential truth about people before adults have time to shake hands. My dogs, and especially my daughter, are crazy for my friend Steve Chopp, and I’m convinced it’s because they can see the kind and gentle nature that I think of as his defining characteristic.
Steve lives in Halibut Cove, Alaska, where my parents have a summer cabin. In the years that I spent summers there running the small local ferry, Steve and I were co-presidents of HCRC – the Halibut Cove Running Club. We were also HCRC’s only members, and even though we only ran together a few times per summer, we tied for many awards. Ever the civil servant, Steve has also appointed himself Director of Homeland Security for Halibut Cove, and alerts residents when the threat level goes from Classic Navy to Burnt Umber.
When I asked Steve if I could do a cabin tour for the blog he shrugged, “sure.” I told him don’t worry about cleaning up or anything, which in blogger speak means remove 90% of your personal belongings from sight and clean until your fingers are bloody nubbins and then put out a bowl of cherries with a few scattered on the counter (don’t let your finger stumps bleed on them!). Steve promised he wouldn’t fret about it, and when my sister and I hiked up to his cabin the next day I was glad for reconfirmation that he is a man true to his word. Steve built his home mostly out of salvaged and scrap materials. The house is one room – only about 500 square feet – but everywhere you look there are small, deliberate details. The best part is that every tiny, beautiful detail you discover comes with a story, and Steve is a great storyteller.
The house is completely off-the-grid. Perched on a high cliff, it gets pretty battered by wind especially in winter but the materials Steve chose make for virtually maintenance-free living.
Steve is pure artist. He’s never read Red House West (though he promises he will now) and decorating and styling aren’t his bag. His materials are things that he has found and collected, mostly on the rocky tidal swept beaches near his home. He’ll collect, for example, sea-bleached vertebrae of various animals for years, keeping them in a cardboard box in his living room, while loose ideas for sculptures or light fixtures solidify in his mind.
Steve was a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay for years, and during down time he would go ashore to sandy beaches where he would take his shoes off and feel for Japanese glass fishing floats buried under the sand. He’s given away a lot of his collection, but he’s also turned some into sculptures for his own home.
This art above the cabinet (which Steve also made) is clam shells that he sanded down into squares and rectangles and then glued directly to the wall. The effect in person is subtle but stunning.
And then of course there’s the view, which my photos really didn’t capture.
Huge thanks to Steve for letting me share his amazing home here on Red House West, and thanks to you for reading along! Check back in on Friday for our monthly DIY roundup!
Wow! Triple wow! What a gem, and your story telling enchanting – as always. What a beautiful, beloved home. Thanks for taking us there.
It really is a fantastic home, thank you Katy!
I’m now officially in love with this little “cabin.” It seems totally unique to me – both the setting and the artistic quality of it. The collage made of shells is just fantastic. Thanks for this lovely post, Mera.
Thanks Carol! I’ve been seeing a lot of capiz shells in home furnishings lately, and Steve’s cabin made me realize the simple clam shell is too often overlooked.
WOW. Just wow.
I really love this post. Very evocative of your summer memories in an idyllic location and your love for your longtime friend. Also so funny! Toss up between threat level going from classic navy to burnt umber and the admonishment not to bleed on the bloggily (its a word) arranged cherries with your finger stumps as to which made me snort harder.
I love Steve, too! His place is just amazing, so simple yet so artistically stunning. You can see his soul in his space. Again, I say, wow.
And so true about dogs and people! They always know.
There are a lot of reasons that I love writing this blog, and reading your comments is definitely high on the list–thank you!
I miss Steve Chopp! And his house is as lovely as I would expect it to be. I’m glad he was willing to share.
Awww, Halibut Cove memories! Did you know that the 30th anniversary of the Saltry is coming up next week?! Thanks Kori!
Steve’s home, the site, the contents—-so astonishingly beautiful. I wish this guy had a blog so I could read more about his life off the grid. Thank you to Steve and you Mera for sharing this with us!
The idea of Steve writing a blog gave me a chuckle. I really only scratched the surface of all the wonderful treasures in his home, I should do a Cabin Tour Part 2! Thanks!
This is a truly wonderful post, Mera, highlighting Steve’s artistic soul, told in the most loving way. His cabin is an artistic gem – thanks to both of you for highlighting it so well.
Thanks Marlene! You know you’re next! 🙂
I love this post too. Terry and I are looking at plans for building a studio/guest house and what good ideas we can glean (open spaces, the light, windows….) from your showing us iHalibut Cove’s beauty and the artistry of Steve’s life and home. The clam shell mosaic is brilliant.
Thanks Susan, I can’t wait to hear more about your studio/guest house plans!
Pups and kidlits are never wrong! We delighted in the words and the special home Steve has created.
Kenn and Judy
Thanks Judy and Kenn!
Wow! Wow! Wow! What a breath-taking home. The hand-crafted nature of it makes it unique and special. I especially love the clam shell piece and the wooden cabinets. Your friend has serious talent.
Even in Halibut Cove, where most of the homes are art-filled beautiful spaces, Steve’s is a real stand-out. Thanks for commenting!
What a fabulous home in every way! Thank you Mera and Steve for sharing it with us!
This post brought tears to my eyes. Steve’s home and how he’s filled the space is so soulful. Its poetry personified by space. So beautiful.
Speaking of poetry Krista, what a great comment! Steve’s home really is magical. Thanks for reading and for commenting!
A fabulous home and a fabulous guy! Thanks Michelle!
A wonderful combination of two very talented people!!! Thank you Mera for presenting Steve’s wonderful home and artistry!!! Great to have you both as neighbors !!!
Thank you Beau! I only wish I got to see you and all of my wonderful Halibut Cove neighbors more often!
“Everything I do is art,” Steve has said. So true. And so well portrayed in this entry. thanks to both of you.
This place is magical! What a lovely -and funny – post…adore your blog and your whole vibe!!
The feeling is definitely mutual–I was just checking out The Happy Space Project yesterday (we follow you on Instagram)! So glad to see you here, thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Thanks for sharing the pictures – they are awesome
You rock Chopp Stix!! Beautiful cabin built by the hands of a beautiful human being. Thanks Mera for bringing the story to life. Steve seldom brings these stories or pictures home. Perhaps all he really wants is for all his friends and family to come up and stay with him at his home? Stay for the summer? Maybe for thirty years or maybe just his brother in law, just once more? Ttmyghmmmmm
Steve Chopp, is that you? What a beautiful place, inside and out.
Jean Rapp – Minnesota/New Mexico