27-year-old designer quit Ralph Lauren to live in a van and build the treehouse of your dreams

From corporate life to the tree house

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Foster Huntington got into the blogging game in 2008, and has since amassed nearly a million Instagram followers on what is quite possibly America’s most inspiring photo and video blog.

Though he was making moves as a successful designer for Ralph Lauren, Huntington decided he was blowing his 20s in an office working for a big corporation. So in 2011, he dropped everything overnight to buy a van and spend the next two years on the road.

“I got really excited about the idea of other people living in their cars, so I made the VanLife hashtag and started documenting those people. I started a Tumbler based on that idea, and two years ago I developed that idea into a photo-book called Home is Where You Park It.”

#VanLife soon reached fabled status amongst vagabonds, rubbertramps and travellers, as Huntington’s photo-blog grew into a full-scale archive of America’s most dedicated free spirits.


Huntington’s surf trips to Maine and Mexico soon became a cornerstone of #VanLife. Finding surf gave the road trip a destination, while vastness of the ocean kept the last wave just out of reach.


It’s as if Huntington’s trip never actually ends—in fact, his followers count on it.


Huntington used Kickstarter to crowd-fund a photo-book named Home is Where You Park It. “Crowd funding is a total game changer for a creative person. You have complete control over your project and are free to make decisions that would never, ever happen at a major publisher. It’s a democratic system—one of the few.”


Looking to establish a home-base, Huntington and his long-time best friend, Tucker Gorman began day-dreaming about building a tree house on the West Coast.


Huntington eventually decided “fuck it” and started building the tree house with the help of his friends who had experience in carpentry.


A year later and the Cinder Cone was born.


The tree house overlooks a skate-bowl, wooden hot-tub and the rolling green of the Columbia River Gorge.


“You can build a sick tree house for 10 grand. Whether they’re big or small, tree houses or cabins, there’s something so rewarding that comes with making the place that you live in,” says Huntington.


“It’s easy to lose your excitement with life as you get older because you’re paying taxes, and bills, and have all these responsibilities. I want people to look at the video and book and get excited again. To build something. Because at the end of the day, it’s a lot easier than you would expect.”


Huntington recently released a short film chronicling the process of building The Cinder Cone, reducing a year’s worth of photo and video content into a 15 minute video, in partnership with Farm League.

To support Huntington’s project, you can visit his Kickstarter campaign here.


(Photos: Foster Huntington/Instagram)