Treehouses: They’re Not Just for Kids Anymore

The Leaf House by O2 Treehouse is dubbed the 'floating lantern'  because of its striking silhouette against the night sky.

With the days getting longer, now is the perfect time to build a backyard treehouse for your kids — or for yourself. Treehouses are no longer just play spaces for children; they’re also places for adults to unwind, pursue their hobbies and even make their primary residence.

Today, about 15 companies are in the “treehouse business,” with specialized teams of engineers and interior designers building custom-designed backyard escapes and providing kits and tools for homeowners looking to construct their own.

Here’s a look at the growing trend.


Fall City, WA-based Nelson Treehouse and Supply, featured on Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters,” has built everything from breweries and recording studios to spas with steam showers — all suspended in trees.

“A lot of people think of treehouses and children, but 9 out of 10 treehouses we build are for adults,” said Daryl McDonald, the team’s foreman. “People want an escape pod — a way to get out of the busyness of being in a home.”

Pete Nelson, owner of Nelson Treehouse and Supply, poses by a Ohio brewery treehouse he designed on Animal Planet's "Treehouse Masters." New episodes of the popular TV show begin on May 30.

Ohio brewery treehouse (interior)

Tory Jones, the TV show’s interior designer, says the sky is the limit when it comes to designing a treehouse. But first you must think about what you need that extra space to be and how you want it to function.

“Design follows function,” she said. “I’ve literally done everything from mid-century modern to contemporary and mission craftsman style.”

CeeLo Green stopped by the Record-High Recording Studio built by Nelson Treehouse & Supply to lay down a track.

Inside the Ohio Butterfly treehouse by Nelson Treehouse & Supply.


O2 Treehouse, a California-based company that will be appearing in an upcoming episode of “Treehouse Masters,” is experimenting with not only function but design.

“I’ve gotten into more complex forms in the geodesic family,” said Justin Feider, the company’s owner and lead builder. “One of my favorites is the honeysphere with 200 openings.”

The Honey Sphere by O2 Treehouse.

Feider says the geodesic shape makes sense for a treehouse because of its strength. The design is also a reflection of architecture and nature, he says.

“People’s consciousness of the green movement and their inherent responsibility in that story has been on the rise,” Feider explained. “Treehouses are part of that. They’re the poster child for living sustainably in a natural structure — a symbiotic relationship with a tree.”


This Austin, TX treehouse designed by Nelson's team has a spa inside.

Both Nelson and O2 provide treehouse consultations, construction and installation in the U.S. and abroad. The process typically takes between two days and nine months, depending on the size and complexity of the project.

“If you want installation, we quote on a custom basis because every tree is different,” Feider explained. His custom structures normally cost between $35,000 and $100,000. Treehouses built by Nelson Treehouse and Supply typically fall in the $80,000-$200,000 range, but their prices also vary depending on the project.

“We do a lot of little ones. A ‘kid deck’ up in a tree would take us 2-3 days,” McDonald said. “The finished product is big enough so you could pitch a tent but nice enough so you could just sleep under the stars. It’s fun because of the immediate gratification.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the biggest project McDonald completed was a 1,000-square-foot treehouse with a 500-square-foot deck. “It had a clawfoot tub,” he said. “It was the most extreme one I’ve worked on.”



Homes Where You’ll Feel Like A Kid Again

There’s nothing like a backyard treehouse to complete a family home. Whether it’s a deck built high in the trees to stay away from pirates or a miniature estate for playing house, kids dream of having a space to call their own and spark their imagination. Here’s a look at homes for sale embracing the great outdoors and what it means to be a kid.

Wimberley, TX

15 Spring Valley Dr, Wimberley, TX
For sale: $392,000

Wimberley, TX
Sometimes kids want the real thing — or as close as they can get. This Wimberley, TX playhouse is made to look like a general store complete with a sign and rocking chair on the front porch. The main residence is also suited for a family with 3 bedrooms and a large eat-in kitchen.

Bainbridge Island, WA

16698 Agate Pass Rd NE, Bainbridge Island, WA
For sale: $465,000

Bainbridge Island, WA
Living in the Pacific Northwest often means you have a forest retreat waiting in your backyard. This Bainbridge Island, WA home is prepped for enjoying the outdoors with a hammock area, fire pit and fire engine-red playhouse.

Mendham, NJ

5 Mansfield Ct, Mendham, NJ
For sale: $775,000

Mendham, NJ
This Mendham, NJ playhouse has some definite curb appeal all on its own. A shingled roof, front porch and white trim are complemented by a manicured lawn and Adirondack chairs — not a far cry fromhomes in The Hamptons.

Henderson, NV

2821 Maryland Hills Dr, Henderson, NV
For sale: $995,000

Henderson, NV
Palm trees and sand — what more could a kid want? Try a swingset complete with a climbing wall, slide, fire pole and more. The property also has a pool and water slide for escaping the hot afternoon sun.

Princeton, NJ

46 Heather Ln, Princeton, NJ
For sale: $2.895 million

Princeton, NJ
A classic treehouse never gets old. Professional arborist and treehouse craftsman Jonathan Fairoaks took advantage of mature trees on this Princeton, NJ property to build a two-story structure and deck only accessible by two flights of stairs.

Sausalito, CA

106 Cloud View Rd, Sausalito, CA
For sale: $2.995 million

Sausalito, CA
This Sausalito, CA home has several selling points. Listing agents Susan Hewitt and C.J. Nakagawalove that sliding doors open directly to an oversized backyard with a deck, fire pit, hot tub, playhouse and climbing walls.

Miami, FL

7245 SW 104th St, Miami, FL
For sale: $4.4 million

Pinecrest, FL
Seemingly out of a cartoon, this green-and-purple treehouse is a fun addition to this Miami Mediterranean. The backyard also features a resort-style pool with a cascading waterfall.