A treehouse is every kid's dream, and building one can be a treat. A well designed treehouse can make an incredible and unique addition to your property: many modern designs have access to utilities, comfortable furnishings, and often don't even require a tree!
Treehouses can be spaces for kids or adults, but building them safely can be a serious challenge for the inexperienced. A pre-designed kit can usually be put together by a skilled handyman or fence installer, but your best assurance of quality will be to have a qualified carpenter handle the assembly. For more bespoke or optimistic projects you will want to speak to a landscape designer or architectural designer, as they will be able to help you finalise a completely safe and visually impressive design.
The first thing to think about when building a treehouse is which tree you'll be using. The choice should be adequately large, secure and structurally sound. If you are unsure you can get advice from a landscape designer or tree surgeon, though if need be you can always build additional supports around the tree. Remember, one of the most impractical things you can do when designing a treehouse is to design the structure and then look for a tree that will suit it. For a bespoke and natural look, build your design around the tree itself.
Many people buy treehouses that come as pre-designed kits. Most of these sit on stilts rather than tree branches, and while this might seem like the scrimper's option many designs feature slides, rope bridges and other features that young children can really enjoy. They are also easy to assemble, though if you lack the knowledge to do so it is better to hire a handyman or carpenter than to try yourself and end up with an inferior finished product.
Two things that you will need to consider regardless of what treehouse type you choose are safety and access. Really, any raised platform will need some kind of protective fencing, panelling or even just a rope barrier to stop people falling and having accidents. Your treehouse will need easy and convenient access too, especially if children will be using it. Depending on their age, you could simply install a wooden or rope ladder, or they may need steps.
Your treehouse will draw the eye and be a big part of your garden's decor, so it is important to make sure it looks the part! Think about your material and colours choices elsewhere, and try to make the treehouse fit in. Do you have a shed or decking? Another idea is to decorate it in a way that complements and blends with the tree itself.
Probably the most attractive design for the outside of a treehouse is natural wood, though you could easily add to this with some carvings, plants or metal accents. You could have a hanging chalkboard sign so that your kids can name their new den, or a bucket on a rope so they can raise and lower their toys. If you are not a fan of the natural look, you could turn your treehouse into a beautiful visual feature with the right coat of paint. If your child is old enough, ask them to help! You'd be surprised what junior designers can come up with when working on a space of their own.
Even for a basic treehouse, it is a good idea to add some basic shelving and seating. Adding some plastic or glass windows and weatherproofing the wood outside can make it possible to enjoy a treehouse even as it gets colder, though you could also consider some decorative blankets or other features to make it more of a cosy hideaway.
A luxurious designer treehouse can serve as an extra room in your property: more and more people are building treehouses that serve as sunrooms, man caves, entertainment lounges or even home offices!
When thinking of luxury, it pays to have a strong idea of what you will be using the treehouse for. An office might need its own toilet facilities and wifi, while an entertainment lounge could use a cosy wood burning fireplace and some comfortable seating. With the right decorations, lighting and furniture, a treehouse can feel like a separate summer home: your own woodland retreat.
Once you have your needs down, speak to a specialist company or an architect to start creating a design that also suits your budget. Building a treehouse on your own can be dangerous, but building one that also has electricity and plumbing is a task beyond the capacity of even the most optimistic DIY enthusiast.