Maud, 8, and Hugo Dias, 5, pull up a basket of toys to their treehouse, which designer Ray Cirino built using recycled Douglas fir. - Los Angeles Times

Charting a new direction in playhouses

LOS ANGELES — For parents, a play structure for the kids can be the key to summertime bliss. But what if you want something more individualistic than a store-bought swing set?

For three Los Angeles artisans, cookie-cutter playhouses just didn't cut it.

"I knew I wanted to create a nest or habitat of some sort," treehouse builder Ray Cirino says. "Habitats fuel children's imagination."

The artisans sought to create places that would inspire children to climb, swing and dream, to transform a backyard diversion into a work of art and refute the idea that kids don't play outside anymore.

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