All Photos by Richard Powers
When I visited Todd's treehouse I was literally drunk! Not with spirits or by grapes but I was giddy with joy. I couldn't stop giggling and I had a smile stretching ear to ear. I felt adventerous and found myself craking jokes I use to make when I was 12-years-old. Visiting Todd's creation was one of the most magical days I have ever had.
Nestled sixty-feet up in the Pennsylvanian treetops perches a treehouse so fun-filled and fabulous it could tempt Peter Pan out of Neverland. ‘We have ruined the lives of quiet a few visiting parents,’ chuckles its owner, Todd Oldham. ‘Kids love it here!’ You can hardly blame them?
Todd Oldham, a long time champion of the obscure has made his name in the US doing flashy fashion in New York before turning to books and photography, as well as interiors, furniture and even hosting a couple of hit US TV shows, Todd Time and Bravo's Top Design.
Inspired by his favourite childhood stories, The Swiss Family Robinson and Peter Pan, Todd designed and built this hideaway for himself and partner Tony Longoria, combining a fresh and unpretentious take on mid-20th-century Modernism with rustic, handmade style. The result is undeniably a fantasy getaway, full of adventure and charm. ‘I don’t feel like a kid when I’m up her, but I do feel like a really happy adult,’ says Todd, who’s installed electricity to power his array of can’t live without gadgets and has a every mod con you’d expect to find in a regular land-based dwelling. ‘It’s impossible to get our friends to leave.’
It took him two years to find the perfect white pine to create this unconventional den, located in the grounds of his weekend property on the edge of a sleepy town a couple of hours’ drive from New York. Five months on – after consultation with companies specializing in children’s playgrounds and adventure wilderness rides – Todd’s long cherished dream became a reality. ‘If you know what you want it’s easier to get it. Up here is very special – to me the atmosphere is completely different. I knew it would be fun, but I didn’t anticipate we’d be so close to nature. It’s like you’re in a strange home, with a really weird view!’
What better way to get close to nature than by sleeping amongst the trees in a luxurious tree house. ‘Whether you are a child or a child at heart this is a truly magical experience,’ explains Todd. ‘When designing a treehouse, it’s almost always a good idea to add a little childhood nostalgia and rustic charm to the mix, even if the end result has modern leanings’.
Once climbing the three flights of white-pine stairs to the balcony and entering indoors you quickly forget you are swaying a long way from the ground.
Todd has demonstrated that he is not scared to have fun while he decorates. 'Humour is important when you design anything from your bedroom to a house up in the trees,’ says Todd.
Is your home really expressing what you love or is it representing what you are being told to love? When we look at a tree, rock or a human hand can you find one that is identical? No of course you can't. This individuality is what makes nature so beautiful and timeless. This is what we have lost in design.
I don’t believe we should coin the lack of courageous design as lazy. I think it's more accurate to say people have lost confidence in their beliefs, dreams and what excites them. It’s as if we have been in an intense, exciting relationship and along the way we have lost our way and our own identity.
Images by London Design Festival
‘Be Bold’ has become the motto for 2009. At the beginning of the year in April we saw the world leaders at the G20 stating how they needed to be bolder with the global economy and The London Design Festival theme is Be Bold – Make a Statement. 'This is an unusual year, and these aren't normal conditions, but creative things always come out of difficult circumstances,’ says Ben Evans, London Design Director.
So what has all that got to do with you and your home? When we are bold we are creative. When there is lack of money we search out new ideas. When we are forced to slow down we experiment. Interior designers, Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler are great amassadors in being fearless, not shy and noticable when they decorate a space. Loud colours, big patterns, strong themes and bravery in displaying artwork and objects is demonstrated in all their work showacasing thier own strong identities and characteristics. I'm not saying copy them but understand how they got to the point they are at in their designs.
Being bold doesn’t mean you must have a brightly coloured home. It’s just as brave to decide to transform your space into a sustainable environment, to opt for soothing, calming colours, or displaying all your artwork on one wall.
What is the heart of boldness then? I believe it's rediscovering who you are. This understanding brings confidence in knowing what you love and what you want out of life which in turn dictates how you decorate and live at home.
If you don’t know who you are, you can never be truly bold. Start really appreciating your uniqueness. Discover what makes you different and then parade it around for all to see. Put flags on it, call attention to it and love yourself for it no matter what others think.
Most people who live vibrant rewarding lives demonstrate those traits of boldness. They don't wait for life to happen to them, they go out and create it. They don't stop when they meet limits or challenges, they push on through. They have fulfilling lives because they are bold enough to go out and get what they want and most importatnly are confident in making their ideas into a reality.