Foster Huntington isn’t afraid to follow his dreams. In 2011, the photographer quit his job in New York, bought a VW van and hit the road. After three years living as a nomad (and the creation of a book entitled Home Is Where You Park It), he was ready to start his next dream: Build a fantasy tree house and set down roots. After sketching out several ideas with designer friends, he started building in the spring of 2014 on family-owned property in Skamania, Washington. Huntington’s dream home, aptly named Cinder Cone, comes with a skate park, workshop, and outdoor wood-fired soak tub—all overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.
After having professional tree-house builders frame the platform to make sure it stays put, Huntington brought in friends and family to help him complete the entire project. Best friend, Tucker Gorman, who runs his own building and design company, was involved from the get-go. Huntington’s carpenter mom was also among the talented group of builders.
There are two main wooden structures, the octagonal workshop and the bunkhouse. Each house is approximately 220 square feet, and they connect to each other with a 25-foot span bridge. The bridge is walled in by netting and lined with an extra-thick rope that acts as a safety railing.
Between the bunkhouse and the workshop is a lookout. A circular base, attached to another giant Douglas fir tree, is used for enjoying the view, watching the sunrise and set, and even acts as a guest house for those brave enough to unroll a sleeping bag there. The entire structure and surrounding property have a whimsical and minimalist design, perfect for Huntington’s lifestyle.
After living in a van for three years, Huntington got really comfortable with tiny, efficient spaces that accommodate few possessions. The wood-paneled walls and hardwood floors are bare, with only a few built-in shelves and throw rugs. There is a small sleeping nook, a kitchen with a sink and wood stove, and an abundance of windows overlooking the amazing view.
Huntington believes that in the Internet age, people should be moving away from the cities instead of toward them. He told Mpora in an interview, “I have Wi-Fi here and full 4G Internet. 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.”
What tree house would be complete without a wood-fired hot tub? The project was initially slated to take a few months, but ended up stretching out to almost a full year, costing $170,000 USD. To learn more about the construction process, watch videos and preview his new book, visit his site thecindercone.com.