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National TV program builds grownup treehouse for Granite Bay couple

Mike Splinter sits in the living room of his Granite Bay treehouse on Tuesday. The treehouse was recently featured in the television show “Treehouse Masters,” where an expert builder constructs a treehouse at someone’s home.
Mike Splinter sits in the living room of his Granite Bay treehouse on Tuesday. The treehouse was recently featured in the television show “Treehouse Masters,” where an expert builder constructs a treehouse at someone’s home. lsterling@sacbee.com

A far cry from the “rickety” treehouse he built in Wisconsin with his buddies as a boy, Granite Bay businessman Mike Splinter recently contracted to have the treehouse of his dreams built, as a national television audience watched.

The “Christmas Candy Kitchen Treehouse,” featuring a full-working kitchen, a full bath, a loft bedroom and great views of the family vineyard, was built by renowned treehouse maker Pete Nelson for his Animal Planet television series “Treehouse Masters.” The Christmas episode of the show aired last week, after being shot over 2 1/2 weeks in late November.

“We built that treehouse by ourselves,” Splinter, 64 said of the boyhood playground he built in Horicon, Wis.

That treehouse – built from a couple old pallets – was known for its giant sweeping rope swing dubbed the “Atomic Swing,” Splinter said. The Granite Bay treehouse is built around a three-generations-old tradition of making hard candy around the holidays, has stainless steel countertops and is complete with a “candy hook.”

Mike and his wife, Pat, said they didn’t seek a television audience for their treehouse construction, but as fans of the show, they turned to Nelson’s company Nelson Treehouse and Supply, based in Fall City, Wash., to have a more rustic treehouse built for the grandkids off air. The company told the Splinters it was too busy for the job, but they might be able to get on the schedule – if the Animal Planet producers liked their proposal.

The producers liked the candy kitchen idea and things snowballed from there, said Pat Splinter, 61. If you’re going to have a working kitchen, one might as well have a working bathroom. That also meant lots of permits.

The 500-square-foot treehouse is essentially a guest cottage on stilts. The house is in a grove of trees but is supported by steel pillars. The exterior is reclaimed wood planks. The most noteworthy architectural feature is the barrel roof. The project cost more than $60,000 but was said to contribute more than $100,000 to the local economy.

“This is the best part,” Pat Splinter said, standing on the balcony overlooking the family vineyard as the wind whistled through the trees. “This is where we sit.”

The grandkids still make use of the treehouse. But the leather chairs, art and decor suggest a different generation is the focus.

“There is a treehouse for every stage of a man’s life,” Pat Splinter said.

Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.

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