Unique homes on display in annual house tour

People cannot stop taking pictures of Maureen Mackintosh’s home in James Bay.

People cannot stop taking pictures of Maureen Mackintosh’s home in James Bay.

“This house has been photographed thousands of times,” Mackintosh said. “We’ve got the carriages going by, the bike guys going by. It’s pretty much non-stop. Everyone always calls it the fairy house or the Hansel and Gretel house.”

The 1,200-square-foot Victorian-style heritage home has a unique flair unlike any other on South Turner Street.

From the outside, the red home with yellow trim is an oasis, filled with vibrant flowers, an apple tree and a small concrete path leading up to the porch. But inside is like stepping into another world.

Most of the walls are lined with Mackintosh’s extensive collection of artwork, mainly from local artists, her daughter and her own work. There are two wooden bookshelves with dozens of perfectly-placed dolls from Mackintosh’s mother and grandmother’s past. Pottery lines the shelves and there is even a bathroom hidden under the staircase.

The kitchen is home to a collection of circus-themed wall hangings including a jester head that Mackintosh made herself.

“It doesn’t have a theme because it’s just whatever I like. Whatever tickles my fancy,” she said, adding that she enjoys anything that is clown or circus-themed.

The home was originally built in 1887 by a well-known Victoria photographer, who used it as a rental house. Mackintosh bought it 31 years ago.

She had to build it from the ground up and did renovations slowly over the years, eventually restoring it to its former glory.

“It’s a little gem,” said Mackintosh.“Anything can be made into something else. If it doesn’t end up in my house, it ends up on the stage. It all gets used somehow.”

Mackintosh’s home is one of six in James Bay, Oak Bay and Saanich that will be on display as part of the 62nd Annual Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s House Tour on Sunday, Sept. 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The self-guided tour leads visitors to a variety of homes including a contemporary residence with a bonsai garden to an 1889 cottage with an expansive flower garden, all in keeping with this year’s theme of homes owned by local art and theatre buffs.

“What we find is people like to go and see how other people live. They like to see their art collection and the people who are planning to do renovations on their own homes, they get ideas from these houses,” said Pieta VanDyke, president of the Associates of the Art Gallery.

The event is a fundraiser for the art gallery. For more information visit aggv.ca.