A fort or treehouse is usually our first foray into breaking away from the family home. It offers a sense of autonomy, privacy and tranquility, with the security of the mother ship at the ready, nearby.
A primal need is served when a magnificent treehouse is made for a child, or an adult. Today’s treehouses have gone full tilt boogie with the hard work of the number one treehouse designer and maker in the world, Pete Nelson.
What’s wonderful about his work is he sees the beauty in reclaimed items, wood and fixtures – repurposed with flair and mindful of the environment.
For each client, Nelson conceptualizes a perfect retreat that is – in essence – a tiny home for people to use as a guest house, a meditation room or a man/woman cave to get away from the family. People marvel at them, lust for them and regress to a childlike wonder when they have one. They can go from basic layout to completely plumbed and insulate affairs you could stow your mother-in-law or best friend in.
With a treehouse, the sky is literally the limit.
Treehouse Masters season six will end in September! Pete Nelson of Nelson Treehouse & Supply who can make your childhood dreams come true, spoke to Monsters and Critics about his life’s passion, as he wraps season six of a wildly popular series for Animal Planet.
Monsters & Critics: Why do you think treehouses have challenged your creative side, versus home building?
Pete Nelson: Treehouse-building is creatively stimulating because it simultaneously offers creative limitations and expansive possibilities. There are so many variables to consider when building in the trees: tree species, branch layout, proximity to other trees, the list goes on. All of these elements limit and shape the treehouse platform design.
I always say that trees truly dictate the design— good treehouse design stems from being patient and really listening to the trees. But once you have a sturdy platform design, you can build whatever you imagine!
M&C: Why do people still find a solace or anxiety busting effect when they have a treehouse, when their perfectly fine house is usually nearby?
PN: There is something magical about being off the ground. The elevation of a treehouse gives you a whole new perspective, and being surrounded by nature helps you refocus and reconnect with what’s important. Treehouses tap into the child and adventurer within all of us.
M&C: What countries have embraced the custom treehouse trend the best/most?
PN: I’d say that Japan, Germany, and South Africa are exemplary in their love of custom treehouses.
M&C: Your favorite treehouse in the world is…?
PN: It’s almost impossible to choose just one, but the Temple of the Blue Moon at Treehouse Point will forever have a claim on my heart. I modeled the Temple after the Parthenon and still love seeing its classical lines nestled among the trees.
M&C: Explain to us laymen what your TAB (treehouse attachment bolt) is and how it affixes to the tree without killing the tree..and how it supports serious furniture and weight…
PN: A TAB is 18 pounds of heat-treated steel that is used in conjunction with other hardware to support the platform for a treehouse. When correctly installed, a TAB can support up to 10,000 pounds and actually stimulate tree regeneration around the area, rather than damage it.
M&C: Couldn’t you say that treehouses are the original “tiny house” that are so popular now?
PN: Sure. I think people have started to realize that you don’t actually need that much living space. Sometimes it is more overwhelming to have a large house than a small one: there is always something that needs to be cleaned or fixed, and in the end you collect unnecessary things to fill the space. I think it’s really peaceful to have a small space where you can curate each item that comes in. It seems like more thoughtful living.
M&C: We notice you use a lot of recycled and re-purposed wood, how do you feel about materials used in the construction and what are some of your favorite materials?
PN: I love using Doug Fir and reclaimed barn wood; in fact, I’ve been known to spontaneously purchase truckloads of reclaimed lumber. Reclaimed materials give new projects a sense of place and meaning, and Doug Fir adds a beautiful touch to any space.
M&C: Are there building codes you must comply with?
PN: Yes, these vary from county to county. Each time we propose a treehouse in a different area, we meet new building officials and a new set of code. Some building authorities are more open to treehouses than others. We hope someday to get treehouse code in the International Building Code.
M&C: What are your favorite trees to build in/on?
PN: I love everything about Douglas Firs. Their strength makes them wonderful to build in, and I also love using their lumber for projects.
Treehouse Masters airs on Animal Planet on Fridays 10/9C.