10 Treehouses That Are Nicer Than Your House
A loftier approach to real-estate envy
These classic backyard fixtures aren't your grandmother's treehouse: They're awe-inspiring masterpieces, from a wisteria-draped retreat to a Japanese-lantern-inspired multilevel escape. Revisit our first installment of covetable treehouses and read on for more playfully appealing tree abodes.
The folks at Karen Aitken & Associates spotted a deceased oak trunk in a client's backyard and envisioned something dreamy. The landscape designers didn't stop at a simple treehouse. They decorated the addition with wisps of Chinese wisteria.
Chester County, Pennsylvania
Rustic, irregular handrails and balusters may cause you to think that this structure was transported from a distant rainforest. However, Hugh Lofting Timber Framing sourced the railing wood for this Swiss Family Robinson-style abode from the surrounding landscape.
Next slide: Get a sneak a peek at the inside.
Salvaged materials like rafters and deck boards cut down on the project's price tag. A slotted stainless-steel plate secures the structure to the trees.
This charming little treehouse designed by Harrison Barnes Limited packs a lot into its small footprint, including a rustic metal roof and a garden plot that adds some mini curb appeal. It also serves as a secret space where the homeowner can get away from it all.
Inspired by spirals seen in nature—like a snail's shell, for example—the ecoPERCH building from Blue Forest is built with larch boards and occupies a formerly underutilized wooded area on the client's property.
Next slide: Get a glimpse inside the house.
The mathematically inspired retreat is outfitted with a kitchenette and a wine cooler, and the view from the deck is toward the homeowner's villa. The fun doesn't stop there, though. About 130 feet of suspended rope bridges—and a 75-foot slide that's suitable for kids 6 years and older—add to the adventurous hotspot.
North Devon, United Kingdom
Roughing it in the woods has never been as romantic as in the Treetops Treehouse on the grounds of the Fox & Hounds Country Hotel. The Bower House Construction-built structure, decked out in multi-material siding and shingles, contains as much space as many single-family homes, with a master bedroom, a bathroom, a spare bedroom, a kitchen, and a living room.
Next slide: Check out the hotel-style amenities
A copper soaker in the bathroom is perfect for lazy immersions while gazing through the Douglas firs treetops and down on a nearby lake. If the solitude becomes wearisome, the hotel's bar and spa are just below the canopy accommodations.
This contemporary spin on a Lincoln-log style structure, named Landscape Apertura by its creator, Robert McLaughlin, and photographed by Bob Greenspan serves as a perch for gazing out onto the surrounding landscape of Powell Gardens. All the materials were locally sourced; most of the wood, from deconstructed houses in the area, came from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in nearby Kansas City.
The imaginative owner of this treehouse gave Chase Building Group and Scott Larkin of Brawer & Hauptman Architects a mere six weeks to design and build a multilevel nature escape. It's outfitted with a mechanical drawbridge and roof hatch, bug screens, ship's ladders, electricity, refrigerator, poker table, and a rope-and-pulley system for delivering goods from the ground.
Surrey, United Kingdom
This gothic English dwelling is the treehouse incarnation of the classic American tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The house's mixed-material siding and amazing balancing act atop poles and stumps create an off-kilter effect not unlike the Tim Burton film adaptation. Three roof shapes, designed by Blue Forest, add whimsy to the haunting style.
Next slide: Take a look inside the playful building.
The outdoor play area can distract kids while adults relax inside, where the playful aesthetic continues with elements like windows.
A mix of traditional house elements like exterior shutters and unexpected features like bright-blue French doors lend a bohemian style to this treehouse, as photographed by Alex Amend. There's ample relaxation room on a deck that's just large enough for two people to sit in wicker chairs and put up their feet on the railing—assuming they're not afraid of heights.
Next slide: See more charming design features.
Weathered furniture and mismatched fabrics play up the charm of a generous loft, leaded-glass window, and built-in storage squeezed around the tree's intruding parts.
Trees poking through the roof and a portico set askew make this play place look like the secret fort of an eccentric fairy-tale princess. The resident treehouse expert at Green Line Architects, David Rasmussen of David Rasmussen Design, built the structure on logs because the surrounding trees were too weak to support the construction.
Next slide: Get a look inside the whimsical structure.
Varying hues of weathered wood and a spiral design keep the eye moving inside this unique roomy retreat. It's clearly a keeper. When the owner moved, he took it with him.