Livonia Mom Blogger Turns ‘Up’ Movie House Into a Treehouse

Sarah Lemp, the frugal mom behind All Things With Purpose, turned the iconic Disney house into a treehouse in time for the movie's 10th anniversary in 2019.

Children running with balloons in front of Up movie treehouse in Livonia, Michigan
Photo courtesy of Sarah Lemp

It’s one of the most famous kids’ movie houses: Carl’s pastel-painted home from the Pixar-Disney movie Up – being whisked up into the sky by bright balloons.

One creative metro Detroit mom recently took that idea and turned it into a treehouse.

And, because that mom is Sarah Lemp, the penny-pincher behind the blog All Things With Purpose, she and her family did it on a scrappy DIY budget, too.

“I’ve just always had this mentality of, ‘Hey, this will save us money,'” Lemp says. “I’m more willing to try anything.”

In May of 2019, she did just that by creating a special play place for her five kids – one that arrives just in time to celebrate the movie’s 10th anniversary.

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Here’s a look at how this crafty local woman transformed good old-fashioned lumber and secondhand savvy into some old-school summer fun.

The 21st century handy mom

Lemp, who lives in Livonia, is among the creative DIY bloggers who inspire parents to do almost everything themselves. Her blog has grown quite a bit since she started in 2012 – along with her family.

“We have three biological kids and two adopted kids. As our family has gotten bigger, it’s been harder to do a lot of things under a budget,” Lemp says.

Then she realized the opportunity of Facebook Marketplace. “I saw all these things that people are listing that they just want to get out of their house.”

A lot of these items were in mediocre shape at best, but their low prices – mixed with Lemp’s creativity – were a recipe for success.

Lemp has revamped hundreds of items of any size, from Christmas ornaments to big furniture items. While traditional vacations can be difficult to manage with five kids and a budget, Lemp and her husband get creative.

They have bought RVs and campers off of Facebook Marketplace to renovate themselves and take on family vacations across the country. When they’re done with an updated item, Lemp re-sells it back on Facebook Marketplace.

Some people find DIY projects too intimidating to even try, but Lemp is always up for a challenge.

“I’m not at all saying I’m an expert, but I can kind of do a lot of things,” she says. “I’m fine to experiment and try to learn. There aren’t many things that I wouldn’t at least try.”

Adventure is out there

Recently, Lemp wanted to give her children the gift of hard work where they had a hand in creating their own space. That’s when an instant-classic Disney movie, Up, came to mind.

“From the times we’ve seen the movie, there are different themes and images that have stuck in our minds that we love,” Lemp says. “For me, it’s this theme of ‘adventure is out there.'”

The Lemp family has taken this theme to heart, from finding adventure in every project to trekking around the country together on family trips; they want their children to experience life in an authentic way.

So, to create a space that visibly embodies that special theme, Lemp and her husband decided to build a treehouse inspired by the colorful house Up, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on May 29, 2019.

Just like treehouse-making families did back in the day, they bought lumber and supplies from the hardware store. With Lemp’s modern creativity, they furnished the whole treehouse with items like twisty slides and a play kitchen from Facebook Marketplace.

These items were never junkyard
material, Lemp explains; rather, kids grow up and have no use for their toys
anymore. “People sell their items on Facebook Marketplace because they don’t
want to see it thrown away; they want to see it reused by somebody.”

Deeper lessons for kids

As for the kids who will get use out of the treehouse and the toys inside, Lemp wants them to know the value of working hard and taking ownership.

“There are so many things our parents did that we didn’t know how to do, and we felt like, ‘Why didn’t they teach us that?'” Lemp says. “We didn’t ever want our kids to look at this and ask, ‘why did you build (the treehouse) and not include me?'”

Lemp notes that at every age, there should be something that your kids can do on a project like this. “Sometimes it takes some deep breaths, a few steps back and realizing they’re not going to do as great of a job as you would’ve done.” And that that’s perfectly OK – because they’re gleaning bigger lessons in the process.

There’s one old-fashioned treehouse rule Lemp enforces: No electronics allowed. Even with the complaints and begging that may come, Lemp aims to stay firm on that.

After all, rather than just having another place for the kids to lounge and stare at a screen, the treehouse is a place for energy, adventure, partnership and reflection, she says.

To learn more about Sarah Lemp and her blog, visit All Things With Purpose.

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