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Monday, 22 February 2016

Guy Gives Up Lucrative Career to Build Whimsical Treehouse in the Middle of Nature

Unhappy with his high flying career in fashion, New Yorker Foster Huntington gave it all up to live life on his own terms. He is now in the news for building ‘Bro-topia’, an outlandish dwelling made up of two treehouses connected by a swinging rope bridge, on a grassy hilltop in southwest Washington state. 

It all started in 2011, when Foster quit his job at Ralph Lauren, sold all his belongings, and lived in a mobile van for months. He was working as a men’s fashion designer and although he initially found the job exciting and challenging, Huntington realized he didn’t care that much about clothing. “I remember looking at photos of bush pilots in Alaska and their ruggedly stylish world and thinking: ‘I can take photos. I don’t want to live my life in the city. I want to go do something else,’” he told New York Times.

So he pursued photography for a while, making money creating photo books, but in 2014 he decided that he wanted to spend his time fulfilling his childhood dream of building an epic tree house. So he pooled his life savings, got a few friends on board, and started working on the project on his family’s property in Skamania, Washington.

Photo: Foster Huntington
“I’d saved money and I’d always wanted to build a treehouse and decided just to do it,” he told ABC News. “We’d always go to my family’s property and camp and it has great trees and was kind of just begging for a treehouse. I called up one of my best friends from college who is a carpenter and designer and we started scheming and planning.”

The duo got in touch with other friends and until they finally had a group of 20 working on the two houses. “We started bolting things to trees in June 2014,” Foster explained, adding that they didn’t have a concrete plan when they started, but made things up as they went along. “We had to figure out solutions the entire time. It was a constant problem-solving experience, which is what’s fun about building.”
Photo: Foster Huntington
“We were doing the roof wrong in one part and we lost about two to three weeks. It all goes according to plan until you have to start working on it, and from there it just comes down to maintaining momentum and being flexible.”

They eventually built two beautiful houses overlooking a relaxing hot tub and a skatebowl.. Both houses are under 200 square feet, perched at heights of 20 feet and 30 feet above the ground. They mostly used reclaimed Douglas fir and western red cedar to make the all-wood dwellings. “The interior is rustic,” Foster said. “Nothing fancy but [has] nice custom woodworkings, like built-ins.”

Photo: Foster Huntington
Foster now lives and works out of the treehouses, which, he admits, is much more convenient than his previous stint with living on the road. One of the houses serves as his studio, while the other, named ‘Octagon’, is his bedroom. New York Times describes his studio as “toasty and light-filled”, sparsely furnished with a shelf that holds his cameras and lenses and a desk for his computer. The small house his mother built, located on the property about 100 feet away, serves as his source of electricity and plumbing.

Being a photographer, Foster took plenty of pictures of the construction process, which he used to make his own photo book titled The Cinder Cone. He ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 to raise funds to produce the book, collecting nearly $80,000 from 1,951 backers.

Photo: Foster Huntington
“Since finishing the houses, I’ve been organizing these images, drawings, and notes into a book,” the 27-year-old wrote on the Kickstarter page. “Think of it as one part instructional book, one part photo book, and one part tiny homes book. My goal is to make something that shows the process from dreaming up a seemingly outlandish idea to the final result after thousands of hours of hard work and the moments that happened in between. I hope that the result ignites the imagination of people’s inner kid and gets ideas going for their own projects.”

“I could have bought a house,” he said, speaking to New York Times. “But this is so much better. For me, it’s realizing a childhood dream.”

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