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New Heights


On the front porch of Ella, Chloe and Mya Dunn’s home in Boulder sit two cups and an entire mud pie. A tire swing hangs below, and the sisters giggle as they cram onto it, spinning around fresh off their imaginary feast. The purple paint has barely dried on their treehouse, but clearly it’s already home.

“When the kids come out and see it for the first time,” John Griffin says, “it really lifts my spirits. It’s great.”

Griffin of Louisville is the self-proclaimed “Treehouse Guy,” a name he made for himself when he first started constructing the tiny homes. At the time, the moniker might have been presumptuous, but now it’s fitting. He’s been building the perched hideaways for five years, and he’s the local go-to guy for everything treehouse. Griffin equates them to Peter Pan’s Never-Never Land—a haven for kids and parents who never want to grow up. A treehouse, he says, is a place where age no longer exists.

It’s also a place where parents and kids can come together to create an imaginative space. And for parents looking to do just that, Griffin has some tips to make building a treehouse an easy, fun project. Tips like “keep it low.”

“Kids just want to be under a tree, they don’t care about being a third of the way up,” he said. To keep it low, Griffin made the treehouse for 7-year-olds Ella and Chloe and 6-year-old Mya, 6 feet off the ground and mounted it onto stilts, opting to put the house beside the tree rather than on it. “Keep it simple,” he added. Treehouses are usually 5 feet by 5 feet, so by keeping the design simple, parents can add fancy features for kids to play on.

Clearly, the tire swing takes the cake for favorite feature, followed by a rock climbing wall constructed out of thick plywood and hand holds. Griffin also made a bridge that connects the house to the tree, where the girls can venture down to get more mud for those scrumptious pies.

Treehouses, which take Griffin up to a week to build, are places of imaginary adventures that kids can personalize. Dollops of purple paint on the rock climbing wall suggest the girls have already put their touches on the paint job. But it’s all part of the treehouse-making process—one that, according to Griffin, is fun for kids and parents.

“Everyone loves them,” he said. “Try not to smile and talk about a treehouse. It just lights people up.”