VICTORIA - Climbing trees and building tree forts are common activities for kids, yet often as children grow up they abandon this love for playing in the trees.
Tom Chudleigh, on the other hand, has been building tree houses for 20 years.
"The trees are just a gorgeous place to be," said Chudleigh, owner and creator of Vancouver Island's Free Spirit Spheres. "There is a magic in the forest that you just don't find anywhere else that's always appealed to me since I was a kid."
Chudleigh began building his first sphere — Eve — in 1993, and with no property of their own, Chudleigh and his wife Rosey hung Eve for the first time in 1995 in a friend's trees on Denman Island.
Free Spirit Spheres is now based near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island with four spheres which are occupied nearly year-round by guests who come from around the world to spend time in a tree house.
The unique experience that guests get at Free Spirit Spheres comes from the trees but also the novel spheres themselves.
"The problem is no one makes anything for spheres, so you can't go out and buy a set of sphere window hinges," he said. "I wind up having to make everything myself, so my spheres are hand-crafted pieces of art."
Chudleigh has built four spheres. The first two were made of wood, but now he replicates his larger sphere, Eryn, which is just over three metres in diameter, using fibreglass.
While some people travel to be a kid in the trees again, others like Lynne Knowlton create a piece of their childhood right in their backyards.
"We thought it would be a great place for the kids and all of their friends to hang out in, but as it turns out my husband and all our friends hang out in it more than the kids," she said.
Knowlton, who is an interior designer and blogger, built the tree house on her 40-hectare property in the countryside near Durham, Ont., with reclaimed wood from a friend's barn.
The barn had been destroyed by a tornado and when the insurance agency encouraged Knowlton's friend to tear down the barn instead of them removing it, Knowlton and her husband bought all the beams and barn boards, which would eventually become their tree house.
"We've had family members that got married here and used it as their honeymoon suite, and one day I blogged about it for my blog. I wasn't thinking much about it and the response was huge. Everyone loved reading about it," she said.
"People loved how we used found sinks and reclaimed windows from churches and french doors. We're literally out here every day in the summertime and now it is my blogging studio."
The tree house has two floors, including a loft which accommodates a queen-size bed. On the main floor, in addition to Knowlton's blogging studio, there is a kitchenette and a twin bed that serves as a couch.
"There is something about the feel good feeling you get when you walk in a tree house," she said. "It smells good and the sounds are beautiful.
"You can hear the sounds of the trees and in the night time you can hear the frogs, and you can see the fireflies and see the stars."
Check out the tree houses created by Free Spirit Spheres:
This gallery shows tree houses as designed by Free Spirit Spheres, a company located near Qualicum Beach.
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