Tree Houses for Grown-Ups

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Actor Val Kilmer has a luxury tree house. So do Sting and Julianne Moore. In fact, more and more people are building play houses for adults in their backyards.

Tree houses have been child's play for centuries -- places where kids go to daydream about pirates and princesses. What kid didn't want to move up there permanently after seeing the movie, "Swiss Family Robinson"?

The Danilchik family's tree house looks like just another house in Seattle -- until you pull back and see that it's 20 feet off the ground.

"Our imaginations just went wild and we just, we let it rip," Heidi Danilchik said.

She wanted to build a guest house, and when she realized there wasn't much room for a house on the ground, she turned her sights skyward.

"It may seem a little over the top, but if you're talking about wanting to build a guest house you might as well make it a tree house if you have the trees," Danilchik said.

The TreeHouse Workshop, which builds the luxury houses in the trees, has seen its revenues go up 20 percent in the last three years.

Co-founder Pete Nelson blames the trend on grownups who never wanted to grow up.

"I think it's because more people are seeing that there are other crazy adults out there that are doing these things," he said. "Reclaiming your youth is what it's all about. It's a Peter Pan thing. If you can grab joy out of something as simple as a tree house, what's wrong with that? What a great thing."

These tree houses are hardly simple. Danilchik's comes equipped with sleeping for four, a full kitchen, a fireplace and even a bathroom.

"The technology is there now," she said. "You can make your wildest dreams come true."

Nelson says most of the tree houses he builds are used as offices or art studios. His partner Jake Jacob calls them "escape pods."

"That's what most adults say they want to do -- just hang out somewhere and read," he said.

"The tree house is a refuge from the real world," Nelson said, "and right now in particular it sure is nice to find refuge."

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