Michael and Paula Bushilla built a treehouse - but it certainly doesn't hold a "no girls allowed" policy.
The 1,100-square-foot building built in a tree was unveiled last week as the new honeymoon suite at Hope Glen Farm in Cottage Grove.
The fairytale-esque building built in and around a 150-year-old bur oak tree was designed by Cary Kimmel, owner of Koinonia Design Architectural Services. The structure includes a full kitchen, bathrooms, breakfast nook, bedroom, living area, tower, secret room and four decks.
The project started back in 2012, when the couple took their proposal to the city council. Construction began in November 2015 and the structure was built during the course of last winter. The last detail was added July 12, before the first bride and groom spent the night July 15.
The property opened as a wedding venue in 2013 by the Bushillas, with reservations rising each year since. They have enhanced the venue each year, but building the treehouse was always the goal.
"This is the grand finale," said Paula Bushilla. "It's all we ever envisioned and planned. And it's everything we dreamed of and more."
Each year, brides asked if they could stay on the farm, she said.
"The brides asked for a place to stay on this historic property, and our vision always was to build a treehouse," she said. "And we said we're going to build it no matter what it took."
The Bushilllas began planning and decided on two places to lodge at Hope Glen: the corn crib and the treehouse.
One of the lodges had to be accessible to people with physical disabilities, so they first went to work renovating the corn crib with Kimmel. Once completed, they launched the treehouse project.
"He managed to craft it around the tree and under," Paula Bushilla said. "For Cary to design it, it was quite a feat."
Kimmel said it was a challenging project.
"I had to create a static structure around a moving, dynamic, living thing," he said. "It's kind of like playing 3-dimensional chess."
He had to think in new and different ways in order to create the structure.
"There were a lot of considerations I've really never had to consider before," he said. "The treehouse is meant to move back and forth, up and down with the tree, without hurting the tree or the house."
Back to nature
The Bushillas and Kimmel designed the treehouse together, combining ideas as the process moved along.
"We told Cary what we wanted, and then he drew it, and then he came up with more than we even thought of," Paula Bushilla said.
No part of the bur oak is in the house because trees "move (as) they grow and they leak," she said, but trees are implemented into the decor in many different ways, including a bathroom sink that uses a piece of petrified wood as the basin and a stump as the stand.
"It's a little more connected to nature, a little more woodsy," Paula Bushilla said.
The bur oak is as much a part of the experience inside the house as any other decoration.
"The tree is beautiful, it's rustic," Kimmel said. "I wanted guests to be aware the tree is central. There's a lot of doors and window where you can see the tree from inside, and you can reach out and feel the bark. I don't know if it's my favorite thing about the treehouse, but it's one of my favorites."
The Bushillas' long journey with Hope Glen Farm has reached a calm now, with their construction projects all completed on the grounds.
The owners can now work on building the business, rather than building structures.
"We had ruined our credit and almost had our house foreclosed on," Paula Bushilla said. "So we did everything by cash: We sell a wedding, we buy lumber; we sell a wedding, we pour concrete."
They thanked the city of Cottage Grove, the city council, engineers, and their neighbors, who all helped them through getting the business built to where it is today, a sentiment Kimmel also shared when recalling the process.
"Thanks to the city," he said. "I'm so grateful to the city of Cottage Grove and all the people who helped and supported this project."
The Bushillas still have work to do.
"We understand weddings, but now we're going to have to learn to work with the general public for just overnight stays," Paula Bushilla said.
A night in the tree house (or the corn crib) is included with wedding rental, but a stay in the treehouse for anyone on weekdays or in winter is $300 a night, plus tax, with a two-night minimum stay.
Hope Glen Farm is located at 10276 East Point Douglas Road in Cottage Grove.
Reservations can be made online at hopeglenfarm.com.