Cabin in the Sky

A luxury landscape designer creates a one-of-a-kind perch in the sky.

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    Linda Grasso

The winter of 2003 was a wet one—so wet, in fact, that Jon Goldstein needed a way to keep crews busy at his firm, Jonny Appleseed Landscaping.

“I was given a book on tree houses on a garden tour. It completely captivated me, and I looked at it almost every day until I turned to my kids and asked them to sketch me their dream tree house. They drew a cabin in the sky.”

And Jon and his employees set out to build it, ultimately constructing a bridge-topped swing set, a “water fight” tower and a deck in a 50-year-old avocado tree in his Studio City backyard. A slide and wooden steps supported by giant faux redwood trees were added in phase two. Jon built the cabin or “main house” and wired it to be a recording studio.

While the entire structure, 1,700 square feet in all, interacts with the tree, it is supported by concrete and steel caissons that are shaped like trees. That project took a bit of Hollywood magic.

While working for actor Mark Wahlberg, Jon took some bark from one of his oak trees. Then Jon’s friend Jake Garber (makeup artist for The Walking Dead) made a mold from the bark. The same technique was used for crafting the slide, which appears to have the texture of a real oak tree.

For son Gregory, who is now 14, it was a boon beyond belief. “Kids would come over and say, ‘Wow, that’s insane!’”
It is plush in some ways—with pine floors, electricity, steel railing—and an example of sustainability in other ways. Supplies came from salvage yards or were discards from one of Jon’s jobs.

 He utilized twigs from fire clearing client Sheryl Crow’s home and pieced them together like a puzzle for railway. A window was purchased from the estate sale of Howard Hawks for the cabin.

 Jon longs to do another tree house and dreams of someday opening “an eco-hotel made from tree houses built by my system. It is relaxing and fun to experience life up in the air."

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