With a treehouse, pretty much anything goes – so rather than tell you how to build one, here’s some tips and considerations before you start to plan your treetop paradise:
Don’t worry too much about the height
Let’s be honest, the higher up in the tree you go, the harder it is to build and the less safe it is for both you and your children. Being just off the floor has as much of a magical feel as towering up high in the canopy so don’t concern yourself too much with the size of the tree or the height of it – it’s more about the structure itself and creating something that both you and your kids will be able to enjoy together.
Consider the tree
If you are lucky enough to have a number of big trees in your garden, then pick one with a sturdy trunk and branches that can withstand the weight of a treehouse and also provide a fantastic focal-point within the structure itself. A few lower-hanging branches would also be a great addition to have as part of the access route.
If you’re opting for a lower treehouse, try to pick a tree or bush with low-hanging branches so that the den is nestled within the leaves – creating the illusion that you’re high up in the treetops and can play in the canopy.
Celebrate the natural environment
Create a décor that’s in line with the treetop adventures that you’re going to have. The beauty of treehouses is their ability to encourage the imagination, so don’t worry too much about designing something that’s all bells and whistles, but instead play up the rustic natural environment – perhaps with the addition of rough-cut wood tables and chairs, or with trees painted on the walls that bring the outside in. I’m a particular fan of decorating by bringing additional plants in to really add greenery to the space and root it firmly in place.
Entry (and exit!) is key
One of the most entertaining parts of a treehouse is how you get in and out, and it’s also a fantastic opportunity to have some fun and think creatively.
Is it a rope to get down, a sturdy ladder to get up, add-ons to the tree that make climbing easier, a net to scale, or how about a slide to return back to earth? Let your imagination fly – just make sure it’s actually usable!
Size and shape
Treehouses don’t have to be a set size, and they don’t even have to look like a house – go crazy when it comes to shape and size. Just remember that it does need to stay upright so make sure it’s structurally sound – triangles are the strongest shape so maybe blend that in, or start with a base square structure and build out from there.
It’s not just for the kids
Yes, your kids are going to be using the treehouse lots but don’t forget about yourself in the design. Firstly, they’re a fantastic place to play with your children, so make sure it will be comfortable for you to get in and out as well as play inside – you don’t want to always have to stoop as that will quickly make playtime uncomfortable and boring.
Secondly, remember that your kids will grow up so don’t just create it for the present – it could make a cool hangout for them and their friends as they go in to their teen years, so make sure all ages can enjoy the space.
Consider what you’re overlooking
Don’t build a treehouse too close to a neighbour’s house, or in a direction where a good deal (or any) of the windows are facing the neighbours property, or upstairs windows. It may sound comical, but seriously, you want to be on good terms with your neighbours and looking over their back garden won’t be appreciated.
I have fond memories of the treehouses I tried to build as a youth, but these were very ramshackle and more just a few planks of wood nailed together – please consider safety throughout the design and construction phases. Be that when making sure the floor is stable or the access/exit durable or simply ensuring you always have someone spotting you while you put items in place or just holding the ladder while you climb.