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Living Large: North Dallas Tree House

By Aparna Zalani

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - James Curvan is excited to show us his creation. A talented and retired architect, he now chooses the projects he wants to do. He’s particularly proud of this one.

It’s his tree house in a North Dallas neighborhood and an ultimate dream come true for a child.

It is a modern day Swiss Family Robinson tree house created to stir imagination. The owners, Jeri and Steve Wakefield, say it is the most popular house in their neighborhood.

It is a real deal, fully furnished with all the modern amenities a child might need.

As an environmentally conscious person and a perfectionist, Curvan found this one challenging.

“I did a lot of research on it. I got into the psychology of children at play,” he told CBS 11 News.

He built the entire tree house on four steel columns because he didn’t want to rest the house on the tree.

“I allowed the tree to grow around it,” he said. “I didn’t cut down a branch bigger than my wrist and a root bigger than two fingers,” Curvan told us.

Back in 2004, owners Jeri and Steve Wakefield wanted to build a magical tree house for their grand kids- Lincoln and Sullivan. Curvan – a family friend agreed to step in. He finished the project in six weeks.

As Lincoln and Sully grew, so did the house. “When they were five years old, we added the rock wall. And, when they were seven, we added the rope ladder. When they were nine, I built the zip line,” said Curvan. It cost the home owners about $48,000.

Most of the house is made of re-purposed materials. Jerri enjoys foraging for vintage items at Canton, TX . Some of the things she bought have been put in the house — a bell in front of the house is from a monastery in California and a wooden piece from an organ from the 1800s became the door. The roof is made of repurposed four poster bed.

The 100 square feet house comes with two sleeping lofts and a lot of memories of generations past.

“These are vintage toys that the grandparents had and left it down to their parents and now to grand kids.” The home includes a little library with the books the grandparents read.

Don’t be fooled by the antique look of the home. It has an air conditioner and a small refrigerator to hold juice boxes.

But the latest addition, the crow’s nest is truly an architectural marvel. It is built on another tree and connected to the tree house by a sky bridge. Curvan is especially proud of it, “This is not attached to the structure. So when the wind blows and the (tree) limbs want to move, this whole deck just moves around like a skateboard. It floats on top of the beams,” he says.

The views from the crow’s nest are truly spectacular. Glance up to see the verdant surroundings and glance down to see squealing children swinging on the zip line below.

That’s living large.

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