Michelle Alberdi, no middle name. Growing up I always felt gypped that I didn’t get a middle name. After I married, I tried using  my maiden name as my middle name (Kelsey) but found that I was inherently too lazy to keep using it—probably due to twenty plus years of not having to use one. So Michelle Alberdi it is. As I have a number of close friends who are also named Michelle, some have taken to calling me “Birdie”…short for Alberdi (a gift from my Basque husband)…which I will answer to as well.


I am first, foremost, and most passionately—a wife and a mother. Secondly, an artist, seamstress, book devourer, party thrower, daydreamer, and beautiful-thing curator. The Driftwood Studios began originally as my personal, private studios (one in our Maui home, the other in Idaho) to putter, create, and paint. I have found that creation and curation for the home is one of my most fulfilling callings. My desire to “go public” with Driftwood Studios is twofold: to share the beauty I am continually surrounded and uplifted by, and to grow and refine my own style as an artist. You can see more of the work I am doing now in The Shop. It is my great pleasure to have you here in my world.



My homes are Maui, Hawaii and rural, mountain Idaho, split down the middle. I have one arm of Driftwood Studios in both places. I am inspired equally by the oceanic turquoise and golden light of Hawaii and the crisp, evergreen mountains and clear freshwater lakes of Idaho. 



For me, creating is like breathing. Without it I would die. Maybe not quickly, but just as surely. I am a seeker of beauty. I am constantly looking for it no matter where I am. I find it in God’s creations, in architecture, in art, in homes, in the changing of the weather, in cast away items strewn on the beach, in the expressions on my children’s faces and the faces of strangers I pass on the street. 

I learned early in childhood the value and necessity of creating from what you have on hand. My mother was my muse. She taught me how to “sew a silk purse from a sow’s ear.” She made, out of necessity, every beautiful thing in our home, and turned everything in our home into something beautiful. From her, I learned both how to make and to make do.

The driftwood and coral pieces that I collect and create with are, literally, gifts from the sea. I love to be able to create with resources that are endlessly renewable—part of the never-ending cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth that the sea provides. 

As humans on this earth, each of us has a part to play in the evolution of creation on this earth, whether it be the birth of a work of art, a piece of literature, a culinary masterpiece, a new idea, or the grandest creation of all, another human being. I am grateful beyond measure that I have been allowed to play my part as creator of a number of these things and I give credit to the great Creator from whom these gifts come. 



The following are just a few of the verbs that describe the process behind Driftwood Studios: exploring, gathering, collecting, creating, styling, photographing, sharing, coaxing and loving into existence. Paintings, wall hangings, and prints are created from the ground up. I strive for originality in all of my creations. Part of my personal manifesto is to bring to life that which has never been. The work you will find here has been handled, thought over, and carefully crafted.



My favorite color is white. White is the color the human eye sees when it senses light, which contains all of the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. It is not the absence of color—it is the sum of all of the colors of the universe. I am continually painting things white. My house is transforming slowly but surely into a sort of Scandinavian museum. If I styled at Ikea I would probably shriek “Stop! It’s perfect!” before any of the colored throws or furniture could be brought in.


I have birthed five children, four living, and I have a penchant for adopting the young adults that wander into our family’s life through my older children and calling them my own. 

My favorite authors are C. S. Lewis, Anne Morrow Lindberg, Mark Twain, Richard Peck and a list of others too long for this about page. I will happily send a longer list to any curious parties.

My guilty pleasure is hot chocolate. Mexican. The hotter the better. In fact, I owe the majority of this business to the fueling properties of about a lake’s-worth of Mexican hot chocolate.

If I only had $20 to my name I would buy books and flowers. Not necessarily in that order.