2008 Highlights

A selection of fun things that happened in 2008

January: Buckeye Treehouse

Treehouses continued to be a big trend in 2008 - and why not? It's a great way for kids and adults alike to get close to the trees and gain a new perspective on the world! January had us building in a small backyard in Berkeley around an old twisting and bewitching Buckeye Tree. It was quite a challenge for Barbara to find space up in the branches for the clubhouse, deck and slide entrance, but she did it! And Barbara also found space for a strong and beautiful swing set that attached to the tree fort. What you don't see is that the swing posts and beam are actually a metal frame with redwood facing. This allows it to match the rest of the structure and makes it super strong for lots of swinging!

February: Local Moms get to work as Play Professionals for their school fundraiser!

Each year we try to participate in as many kid-related fundraisers as we can. In February, a local school partnered with us to create a special auction item. For the Nueva School's annual auction, a group of mom's came to our shop for a day of staining the donated playhouse under the supervision of our master stainer, Rudi Verhoeven. It was a really fun project for them and us!

March: California Hideout Treefort

This month it was down to Southern California for our next treehouse. Barbara and crew had done a "stick out" to determine the size and shape back in January. We built as much ahead in the shop as possible so that once the installation time arrived it only took us 4 days to complete on site. The California Treehouse is a great example of how a treehouse can be compact and fun! With multiple layers, there's sure to be lots of scampering. And with such a wonderful tree, the upper level is almost invisible.


April: Bike Garage in Los Angeles

We had installed a play structure for this family last year. Now the mom wanted a place that the kids would use to tuck away all their bikes and bats and balls. The Bike Garage was designed to hold it all and to match the play structure. Plus with the double sliding doors, getting bikes in and out is almost as fun as playing on the play structure. We hear that the kids really love using it!

May: Birdhouse Bash - Kid's Rule Table & Chairs / Bay Area Discovery Museum - Garden Playhouse

May is a popular time for fundraising events. This year, we sent our Kid's Rule Table & Chairs to several events, including Child Advocates' Birdhouse Bash. It's very important to us that our donations help support children, and Child Advocates is a wonderful organization that trains and supports Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers. These volunteers give a voice to the children they represent and have a vital role in the decisions that affect the kids' lives. We are so glad that we are able to participate in this event and support a worthy cause!

We also participated in the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Gala Event, partnering with them to present a Garden Playhouse for auction. The event supports the Museum, which works to delight and educate children by "developing childhood creativity [and] nurturing future generations of creative thinkers and innovators." Just like us, The Bay Area Discovery Museum encourages creativity through play, and we just can't say enough good things about that! With its Open Door Policy and scholarships for summer camps, performances and other Museum programs, the Bay Area Discovery Museum is committed to ensuring that all kids have access to their resources, and we are proud to support them in that effort!

June: Coyote Valley Treehouse - Northern California

Throughout June, Barbara and the crew spent hundreds of hours building and installing Coyote Valley Treehouse. Camping under the stars was part of the fun on the installation, and you can be sure there will be many more sleepovers to come on the big 24' long deck. It was extraordinary to hear the coyotes calling at night from the next ridge! This structure is intricately nestled in the branches amongst a grouping of 3 giant trees. The hand-woven rope railings give everything an open, airy feeling. And check out those Winder Steps! Now that's a work of art! With sweeping views of the valley below, this is the perfect spot for reading, drawing, listening to music or sharing secrets with your best friend. And when you're ready for a little excitement, head over to the Take-Off Tower for an exhilarating 120' long "tree-to-tree" cable ride! Treehouses require a tremendous amount of work, but the hardest part for us is always saying good-bye, even though we know it's in good hands. Thank you to all our clients for being such great, visionary people. You are a true pleasure to work with, and we cherish every project!

July: Majestic Treehouse - Back in the Redwoods

Majestic is right! The giant redwood trees surrounding this treehouse soar far above the treehouse, hiding the fact that the treehouse itself is 15' high! There's really something enchanting that happens when our redwood structures find a home near live redwood trees. It's hard to explain, but I think they just feel a little more "at home" themselves when surrounded by their cousins! This design is one of Barbara's favorites and she is constantly refining it: playhouse up top, play space underneath to do monkey bars and hang out.

August: New Design - Activity Center

Barbara and her clients had a lot of fun working out the details of this new design. The clients wanted Barbara to come up with a compact activity center. The swing activity center has a swingset, track ride, monkey bars and rings, all in a square so the kids can go around and around.



September: "American Builder" TV Show Comes to Our Upstate New York Installation

In the fall we headed east to install a couple of structures, as well check in on some of our previous installations! First was Bluebird Treehouse. This treehouse was lots of fun to put up, especially since it was being filmed for the television show "American Builder!" This structure stands sentry to its own little island in the backyard accessed by an arched bridge. The bridge was already in place when Barbara started the design, and she wanted to make sure the play structure fit in with it. There's plenty to do once your there, with activities under the deck including parallel rings and monkey bars. Plus who could resist a 50' Zip Line Ride! The "American Builder" crew was lots of fun to work with, and we even got them to help out a bit. Having an installation filmed is always a challenge because sometimes you have to things a couple of times to get the right shot. But it's worth the extra effort for a great show like this one. We're just glad to have caught the eye of a show that knows what it takes to build quality products! Check out the show on our video page.

October: Redwood is a Renewable Resource!

2008 proved to be a big year for re-staining and relocating structures! We always encourage our clients to perform yearly maintenance on the structures to ensure that they get the longest life possible out of them. Just cleaning and tung-oiling the structure can be a fun family project that will keep the structure safe and beautiful. Plus, structures that have been tung-oiled every year generally require less stain when you do decide to re-stain because the wood isn't dried out! Here are before and after photos showing how this play structure came right back to life after a re-stain & tung-oil.


November: Tony Hawk's "Stand Up for Skateparks" benefit

We took our Cozy Cabin playhouse to the L.A. for Tony Hawk's "Stand Up for Skateparks" event where kids were able to play on it before it was won by the highest bidder. The "Stand Up for Skateparks" event raises money for the Tony Hawk Foundation, which "supports recreational programs with a focus on the creation of public skateboard parks in low-income communities." We're happy to support an organization that helps get more kids active! Tony and a bunch of his friends were there demonstrating their skateboarding skills and kids were in awe!

December: Hillside Adventure

This year ended with installation trip to Santa Barbara, CA to install this sprawling collection of four treehouses. This hillside is sure to see lots of activity now! Two of the forts are connected by a Swinging Bridge that has Monkey Bars below - as if they weren't challenging enough already! And with a stainless steel Firepole, two Rung Ladders, a Super Slide, a Rope Net Ladder, and a 30' long "tree-to-tree" Zip Line Ride, the kids will be running around for hours, defending their territories. Somehow, I don't think we'll be seeing a surrender flag anytime soon - but I'm sure they wouldn't mind receiving replacement supplies (or lunch) in the Pulley Bucket!

Look for it IN 2009!

All these structures require some pretty complex math to build, and our Hexagon Roof was chosen to be in a high school Algebra textbook as an example of how math is used in real life.

Be sure to look for us next spring at the Stanford Mall for the 2009 Dreams Happen Auction & Gala. We'll be donating another spectacular playhouse for auction (our tenth year!)

Our newest Public Use Play Structure will be installed in San Juan Capistrano's Los Rios Historic Park in the spring of 2009.