My latest project, one that I have been dreaming of for ~ well ~ forever….is underway. It has officially become our little slice of heaven. It has been fondly nicknamed the TREE MANSION. It started off as a little idea, and it grew into a fantastic idea. It is now a fantastic reality.
Do you remember those days, when you were a kid, making a fort with cardboard boxes and it felt like your own castle? Those times when you wrangled up every single cushion off of the family room sofa? No chance for anyone to watch TV or sit in the room, every cushion was piled high for miles on end. My sofa cushion forts always had hallways, side wings, bedrooms, windows…heck, I would have put a chandelier in it , if my parents would have at least bought me one. Geez, I was ripped off as a kid. I had to make these things from scratch. Jokes, MOM….I remember those days of taking those “Leggs” egg shaped cartons and managed to turn those into a fort too. My brother and I would create forts with the neighborhood kids from scraps of just THINGS, and suddenly we had a chateau. We created these mini fortresses in fields, in friends backyards, and occasionally in a real tree if we felt ambitious. We were so disappointed when the street lights came on, and we had to run home. Our parents were mean and made us come home when the street lights turned on. I swear all the neighbourhood parents had an agreement with the electric company. It was a conspiracy. Our parents had convinced the electric company to turn the street lights on early, just to spoil our fun. Told you I had a cruel upbringing.
Well, some things never change. Our kids have made tree forts here at our home….and they were pretty cool…but slightly dangerous….teetering high up in the tree with rickity old pieces of particle board dangling from a nail…Nails that they no doubt wacked into the 100 year old precious tree. That tree will probably be landing on my front porch any minute now. Incredible how trees can only take so much abuse, and then….you can hear them screaming “dude, leave me alone What does a tree have to do to get some peace around here ?!”
Yes, this photo does show a slide that was once in a government playground. They were removed for a new and improved version. A friend of ours had the contract to remove these slide, but didn’t have the heart to just throw it in a land fill site. He brought it to our place, knowing that the kids (uhm, adults) would have a blast with it. My 83 year old grandma has been down this slide ! We are even considering adding a watering hose on it, to really pick up some speed. I didn’t want to give my Grandma a fat lip with the lightning speed of the slide and the hard landing at the end, so I spared that hose event to a later date.
These old rusty spindle thingies came from a yard sale. Someone had them piled high in a field, and they looked tempting to me. I couldn’t resist the temptation of buying a pile of rusty spindles. We (ok, not me, the contractor) drilled holes in old barn boards and created this funky railing. I am officially in love with that railing. I plan on sitting and staring at it for hours. This place is just waiting for a good book read to happen.
We decided to build the fort in what our kids call “ the witches forest”. The kids named it the witches forest, because it had all kinds of old bottles, and herbs (aka weeds) , twigs shaped like witches broom handles and little scraps of this and little scraps of that. Perfect for making a witches brew. Not a true witch in sight, or I would be running for my life. The goal is to chillax, not run at warp speed.
We are blessed with an incredible amount of trees around our property. I have one family rule (well, I have a couple, but no need to air all my dirty laundry ~ you are just getting to know me , haha) , if you cut a tree, you plant a new one. I am a tree biatch. Even the ratty old trees, they are still a tree. Doesn’t matter if it is on its last legs. IT IS A TREE. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it is a DUCK, for crying out loud. All the boys try with the “that is a weed tree, Lynne, it doesn’t count “…uhmmm, yah, it does. Plant away. New tree please. NOW. Nice try, french fry.
So last year I thought it would a cool idea to have a tree fort~hide away. Heck, the kids were having so much fun in tree forts, and I couldn’t resist the idea of having a home in the trees. Michael had to warm up to the idea. He wanted an ATV, but that didn’t happen. He also wanted a sweet little tractor ~ one that worked ~ and that didn’t happen. Seriously, dude, get your priorities right. Tractor schmactor. We needed a tree fort much more than a functioning hunk of junk machinery. Where else are we going to have pajama parties ? Where else can we eat popcorn for dinner ? Where else are we going to go when we want to hide from the kids, or the dinner dishes ? Duh ….the tree fort. Who says tree forts are only for kids ? Yah yah yah, I will share it with the kids, but for now, I am having way too much fun creating a fort to share with all.
We had to save moola for the tree fort, so for now, Michael has nicknamed it his ATV. On a bad day, he refers to the tree fort as his tractor. Poor boy. NOT. Don’t worry kids, he is not suffering. We let him in the fort too. The real dirt is that he LOVES IT. He just won’t confess it….YET. He is still pining for an ATV~ Tractor ~ or some other dumb farm equipment. Who needs it ? I could care less if the grass is 10 feet tall without a tractor. I can still see the top of it from the tree fort anyway. Tall grass hides weeds. Problem solved.
Our contractor ~ aka ~ master tree fort builder ~ is a lovely man. Several reasons why Chris is awesome…not only can he build a smokin’ hawt tree fort, he bakes a mean pie. Anyone who knows me, knows I would gladly trade design for food, any day of the week. I surround myself with friends who like to cook. I would rather design an entire tree fort than make dinner. BUT PIE ??!!! Homemade pie ??!! Chris had me at that.
At the initial conception of the tree fort, we were living in Paris. Poor Chris, he had the task of creating the tree fort from afar. So in a moment of despair, I found this picture of a tree fort and sent it to him via email….
Aren’t I cruel ? I am sure I stressed out the poor guy when he saw this picture. He didn’t have me in Canada to even talk about it, but he was a good sport and followed the picture. Believe it or not, I thought this design was cool. If you look carefully, it has a pretty funky overall design. When we arrived home from Paris, the tree fort had a second storey , with a bedroom loft. It had dormers. It had a front porch and it had a pot belly stove. It was hilarious. Michael turned to Chris, in utter awe ( because I am sure he was expecting an actual tree fort/ shack). Chris saw the look on Michael’s face and said : “ Oh, yah, the fort kinda got away from me !“. What a hoot !!! It is official. I am in love with my contractor. Don’t tell his wife. Seriously though, he really rocked the fort OUT LOUD. I am a big big big believer in creative license. If you hire someone with the skill to do a project, give them the kindness and respect of creative license and let them run with it. I knew he was a master at creating a tree fort, so I gave him the creative license to make it happen ~ and we have never looked back.
He created the tree fort from an old barn that we bought from our friend with the idea of reclaiming every inch of that barn. And that we did. All the wall and floor boards are from the torn down barn. One part of the wall is created from the tin roof of the barn. He lined the entire fort with screening, so we would not have an issue with flying creepy dudes. No one likes the sound of that bbzzz when you are sleeping at night. Or a pesky fly. Gross. I am sure that some may look at this fort and think MONEY PIT. Truth be told, it is created from something that otherwise would have been torn down and burned. My friend , who we bought the barn from, wanted to see a reclaimed use for her barn. It was blown over by a tornado. It would have been a crime to burn the remnants of that barn.
The windows are also reclaimed. Some are from an old church, some are from old houses. I love to trade/ barter ~ I often trade the old reclaimed items for something else that I don’t need any more. Or..I trade for design advice. Barter is what made the world go around many moons ago, when moola did not exchange hands. It is about a handshake, and about helping one another out. That is how I roll.
The tree fort is still a work in progress. My plan is to create a kitchen with windows that open to the back fields. It will have a bar style kitchen with accordian windows, with bar stools on one side and a small working kitchenette on the other side.
Of course, no tree fort is complete without Balinese influence. I will be adding a stone vessel sink from Bali. I am all giggly and excited just to see that ! I will be using old Balinese gates to create a safety railing on the bedroom loft. I have a friend who had to cut an old tree down on his property. I will be using the slab of wood for the kitchen counter top. I have a few more plans, but I can’t confess them just yet. Michael may read this post, and I will be busted. I am trying to stay out of trouble for at least one more week. As soon as he notices that I am on my best behaviour, I can start mis-behaving again. Mis-behaving = tree fort fun reno’s . Who knew that a forest could be so fun ?! Stay tuned for more updates on the tree fort. They may include bits about the grief I get from Michael when he learns of my latest plans to finish the fort. Like I said… tractor, schmactor. BTW, he does claim he sits on the toilet of the outhouse we built, imaging he had a steering wheel in his hands since he already lost the tractor battle on that one. Now that outhouse is super duper funky, maybe I will need to post on that one. I just need to wait for the dust to settle….
- Home Is Where I Keep My Hat~ My Heart~ My Everything (lynneknowlton.com)