Living in a tree house built for adults can be pretty rad. How ’bout a couple of tree houses built for adults that include a hot tub as well as a personal skatepark for you and all your homies? Foster Huntington and friends finished Huntington’s in just over nine months, and it’s probably the coolest thing you’ll see all day.
Huntington is not new to alternative living spaces. After leaving his design job in New York in the summer of 2011, he moved into his van. Rolling from town to town and surf break to surf break, he collected no moss, clocking in more than 100,000 miles driving around the West Coast, surfing, and camping. He documented his experience on his website, Van Life. His photo book, "Home Is Where You Park It," is a must for anyone who loves vans or is curious about vagabond awesome. And if you need a fairly steady dose of contagious wanderlust, bookmark his other page, A Restless Transplant.
"I've been travelling for the last three years and I wanted to set up a home base. I really liked living in a small space, like in my camper, and a tree house kind of seemed like a good evolution of it," Huntington told Mpora.com.
Lucky for Huntington, his family owns a nice chunk of property outside of Portland, Oregon, on a specific type of hill called a cinder cone, in a valley near the Columbia River Gorge in Skamania, Washington. He knew the hilly parcel of land because it was his family's go-to camping space. And that’s where he returned when he was ready to lay down some roots.
"There's this really cool row of Douglas fir trees on top of the hill, so I thought, 'Hey, that's a good spot to build a tree house, right there with the best view,' so that's what we did," said Huntington to Mpora.
He started to lay out the plans: two tree houses, a hot tub, and a skatepark, breaking ground/branches in February 2014. Each tree house measured a modest 220 square feet or so; one is a studio/guest house and the other is Huntington's living area. And they're connected by a 25-foot span bridge.
You read that right: guest house. It's good to have friends in high places. [Rimshot.]
Huntington called in some favors to get everything built. One of the key players was one of his best buddies from college, a carpenter who helps run the Oakland, California-based Perspective Design/Build. Huntington also knows a handful of carpenters, whom he enlisted. Although he did pay them, he got the bro deal and maybe even offered them unlimited guest-house access.
All in, Huntington estimates the costs for bringing the project to fruition was about $150,000, not including the land. Controlling a lot of lights and much of the home electronics via iPad, the compound also has 4G Internet and Wi-Fi.
"And that's all I need to make a living, so I could be here or I could be in Manhattan, and it's way cheaper to do what I'm doing here," said Huntington, talking about his Internet access.
Living in his van, which may or may not be about the same size as some Manhattan studios, helped Huntington hone his minimalism skills. He had to choose wisely among which items he should own because he didn't have the luxury of spare space. Lacking excessive creature comforts, the tree house he calls home also forces him to find comfort in nature: “Because it's small, it forces you to spend most of your time outside doing stuff, skating the bowl or whatever."
It was there, on the ground, where the project became the most difficult: Building the concrete bowl was the most challenging.
“I’ve skated a bunch of bowls, but I’ve never seen the process before,” Huntington told Outside. “It’s such a technical, mathematical thing, a combination of being really good at skateboarding and being a skilled technician.”
Late last year, the skilled photographer, videographer, and editor (we especially like his short snowboard film, "Japanuary," featuring Bryan Fox), added "homeowner" to his impressive résumé when he finally completed his tree house.
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