INTO THE WOODS

RE­CY­CLED MA­TE­RI­ALS BRING A UNIQUE RETREAT TO LIFE.

Country Sampler's Prairie Style - - Contents - WRIT­TEN BY Char­lotte Safavi. PHO­TOGRAPHED BY Mark Lohman. STYLED BY Sun­day Hen­drick­son.

Re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als bring a unique retreat to life.

go and med­i­tate,” re­calls Cal­i­for­nia artist and

faux painter Donna Mor­gan of the rudi­men­tary

struc­ture that was soon to be­come a one-of-a-kind

tree house in the Wood­land Hills neigh­bor­hood of

Los An­ge­les.

When the op­por­tu­nity arose for Donna to live

there for a while, she em­braced the chance “to

work her magic,” in Fran­cisco’s words, and take the

sim­ple home to a whole other level.

First off, the tiny house foot­print needed to be

ex­panded to have a bed­room niche built into the

stu­dio as well as a bath­room and dress­ing area. But,

there was a live tree block­ing the in­tended ad­di­tion.

“In­stead of cut­ting the tree down, we de­cided to let it

stay and build out around it,” Donna says ex­cit­edly.

The pair be­gan to add on to the small space in

the same vein as the orig­i­nal, which was con­structed

en­tirely from

ar­chi­tec­tural sal­vage and found

ma­te­ri­als. They ended up piec­ing to­gether a fully

func­tional 600-square-foot living space with a tree

grow­ing right through

it. Although the house is

mostly glass, it is wa­ter­tight.

When dec­o­rat­ing the home, Donna re­cy­cled and

re­pur­posed old fur­nish­ings, whether bought at a

thrift store or snatched up road­side. “I pick things

up on the side of the road. I go to garage sales and

thrift stores. I find things in na­ture. I ac­cu­mu­late

ev­ery­thing I love and use them out­side the book,”

Donna ex­plains. “Ev­ery­thing is hand­made. I use

things I find and re­pur­pose them. My head­board, for

ex­am­ple, is made of drift­wood and a piece of iron.”

Donna kept ev­ery­thing white—or in its nat­u­ral

state of wood, metal or glass—so as not to dis­tract

from the green­ery out­side.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence changed my whole life,” she

says. “It was a dream you’d never ex­pect to hap­pen:

to build and live in a tree house as a grown-up, rather

than as a lit­tle girl. Like a fairy tale come true.”

“MY FRIEND FRAN­CISCO DEL­GADO, WHO’S ALSO AN ARTIST, HAD BUILT A CA­BANA-LIKE HIDE­AWAY IN HIS BACKYARD AS A PLACE TO

1. Gather the Goods

Find a lo­cal sal­vage store, and start amass­ing ar­chi­tec­tural odds and ends: French doors, old man­tels, win­dow­panes and sashes, dis­carded shut­ters, floor­boards and more. Keep the pieces in a shed or garage for when you draft up your plans.

2. Plan the Lay­out

Once you find a suit­able lo­ca­tion in your yard, de­velop a lay­out based on the nat­u­ral to­pog­ra­phy and gar­den plant­ings. Plan for the spa­ces you’ll need, whether it be a writer’s retreat with sim­ply a desk, or a guest­house, which would re­quire a bath­room. PRAIRIE sty e

3. Build It

Use a pro­fes­sional for build­ing and weath­er­proof­ing, but you can have a lot of fun tack­ling some projects on your own. Con­sult DIY sources for tips and in­for­ma­tion. Lay down floor­boards, put up walls, in­stall a ceil­ing. Just make sure the struc­ture is sta­ble, safe and se­cure.

4. Find Fur­ni­ture

Go to yard sales, flea mar­kets and thrift stores. Buy pieces that in­ter­est you at the right price. Re­fin­ish­ing and re­paint­ing is al­ways an op­tion. Play with colors. Ex­per­i­ment with fin­ishes by dis­tress­ing with sand­pa­per, cre­at­ing a layer of white­wash or adding sheen with beeswax.

5. Add Ac­cents

Hang sheets or cur­tains, or prop up vin­tage screens to sep­a­rate pri­vate ar­eas, such as a bath­room or dress­ing room, from the more public spa­ces. Fur­nish your tree house with unique ac­ces­sories as you would your home. Use nat­u­ral el­e­ments to add fur­ther char­ac­ter.

BUILD­ING A TREE- HOUSE RETREAT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD CAN BE A FUN PROJECT FOR THE EN­TIRE FAM­ILY. YOU CAN MAKE IT AS BIG OR SMALL AS YOU WISH.

“IT’S SO AIRY AND BEAU­TI­FUL AND LIGHT; I’M SUR­ROUNDED BY ALL TH­ESE TREES.”

“I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT I AL­WAYS END UP ADDING TURQUOISE TO EV­ERY­THING.”

OP­PO­SITE PAGE, LEFT: Among Donna Mor­gan’s many tal­ents is mak­ing jew­elry with vin­tage beads. Here, she is fash­ion­ing a neck­lace. OP­PO­SITE, RIGHT: A carved-wood Guadalupe statue made it back from Mex­ico with Donna on one of her trips south of the bor­der. THIS PAGE: Sal­vaged win­dows, shut­ters and doors are just a few of the ma­te­ri­als used to build the tree house. There are also two en­trances to the retreat. The steps on the right side (the later ad­di­tion) were fash­ioned from old rail­way tres­tles.

OP­PO­SITE: The wall be­hind the sofa is ac­tu­ally a pair of sal­vaged barn doors, which were faux-fin­ished. The gold wrought-iron-based ta­ble was a flea-mar­ket find made func­tional once again with the ad­di­tion of a glass top. The light fix­ture is a real one, though it looks like can­dles. THIS PAGE, TOP LEFT: A lou­vered shut­ter (a road­side find) holds hats and one of Donna’s hand­made purses. TOP RIGHT: Donna col­lects vin­tage and an­tique crosses, which she dis­plays through­out the retreat. Th­ese two are nailed on the barn door above a con­tainer hold­ing fresh flow­ers. BOT­TOM LEFT: Vin­tage sheets dress up the view from the living room. An old tool ta­ble holds the wood frame of a church’s stained­glass win­dow, adding height, while a cozy chair is fresh­ened up with an old table­cloth slip­cover. The sky­light brings more of the out­side in. BE­LOW: A guide to col­lect­ing crosses sits be­neath a vin­tage Ball jar dou­bling as a drink­ing glass.

OP­PO­SITE: A crown hook adorned with tiny crosses made its way into Donna’s col­lec­tion. Tacked on the tree trunk, it func­tions as a towel holder. TOP LEFT: A vin­tage cherub does dou­ble duty as a dec­o­ra­tive statue and planter. MID­DLE: A sunken bath­tub serves as a tub for a soak or as a place to take a shower. Bath sun­dries rest ca­su­ally within reach on a built-in wood ledge. Pot­ted and hang­ing plants add to the green­house ef­fect. BOT­TOM: Donna cus­tom­ized a pretty hang­ing can­dle­holder she found by dan­gling a starfish off the end. ABOVE: By adding a basin, a slab of mar­ble and new plumb­ing, an an­tique Chi­nese chest is trans­formed into a hand­some van­ity in the bath­room area. The suspended wood shelf holds seashells and rosary beads.

OP­PO­SITE: An­tique wrought­iron cor­bels, along with a pair of draped vin­tage sheets, de­fine the en­try to the bed­room area. Donna painted the bed­side chair white for a fresh look and added the lace table­cloth be­neath the bed for tex­tu­ral con­trast. The planter was pur­chased in Mex­ico and made into a bed­side ta­ble with the ad­di­tion of a tiled top. Col­or­ful hang­ing Moroc­can can­dle­hold­ers pro­vide am­bi­ent light­ing at night. THIS PAGE, ABOVE LEFT: A large ar­moire holds Donna’s clothes, and a stand­ing mir­ror re­flects back the area, cre­at­ing an illusion of spa­cious­ness. ABOVE RIGHT: Ev­ery­thing is hand­made in the tree house, from pil­lows that were sewn from vin­tage flo­ral fab­rics to the head­board fash­ioned from bleached wood and a gate piece. RIGHT: A ta­ble made of mis­cel­la­neous parts, in­clud­ing an old bar­rel, rests in the crook of the tree. The wrought-iron chan­de­lier over­head was brought back from Mex­ico, one of Donna’s fa­vorite places to visit.

OP­PO­SITE: Backed by a sin­gle glass French door, Donna’s workspace con­sists of a vin­tage tool ta­ble and a curvy, weath­ered wrought­iron chair. The lat­ter was orig­i­nally in­tended as a plant stand but with the ad­di­tion of a soft pil­low, Donna now uses it as her work seat when mak­ing small items, such as jew­elry or purses. Some of the neck­laces she has de­signed are draped on the glass door like a cur­tain. THIS PAGE, LEFT: A blue frame holds pic­tures of Donna’s beloved grand­chil­dren, while a vin­tage glass box dis­plays some of her jew­elry. ABOVE MID­DLE: Donna’s hand­made bags are cre­ated from pieces of vin­tage cloth­ing re­assem­bled into new shapes with a new pur­pose. ABOVE RIGHT: Ex­am­ples of Donna’s be­jew­eled cre­ations, in­clud­ing neck­laces and rosaries, lie on a table­top. All are made from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als and vin­tage beads. BE­LOW RIGHT: This folk-art cross, made of bleached wood, ap­pealed to Donna as a tex­tu­ral stand for her pieces. BE­LOW MID­DLE: A vin­tage etched mir­ror mounted on the side of the ar­moire serves as a jew­elry holder and a place to preen. BE­LOW LEFT: Donna col­lects vin­tage belts, which she uses for her fanny-pack-style purses, again made of old cloth­ing.

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