Treehouse Living: Up Close and Personal with the Forest

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treehouse in misty woods

When I was about 9, I was invited to spend the night at a friend’s house. After I got there, it was decided we would sleep in the treehouse, which was a platform with walls and a roof. The door and small windows were uncovered cutouts. There was no screening. We were sleeping outdoors in the elements! What a thrill!

Walking out of the house across the expanse of lawn to a forested part of the yard made me feel like we were going to some secret, special place where there were no watchful parents or annoying siblings. It was truly a getaway for a kid!

Climbing a ladder to go to bed was adventurous! The beauty of the night, though, was sleeping among the leaves. It’s a view you don’t get often, unless you can climb that tree that high!

Around a long time

Indigenous peoples in tropical areas have lived in treehouses for thousands of years. Some still do! They raise their homes 40’ to 140’ high in the trees to stay safe from predators and warring tribes. Of course, native materials are used – it’s what they have! Entire families and their pets sleep in the treehouse, but they spend most of the day hunting, cooking and surviving on the ground. Needless to say, there is very little impact on the forest. These folks are living with the planet.

Living in a treehouse full time?

Is it possible to live in a treehouse and connect with nature that intimately?


A treehouse village in Alwick Gardens, Northumberland, England

This is not unheard of! There are treehouses with living rooms, bedrooms, full kitchens and full bathrooms. An off-grid treehouse would be powered by wind and solar, water would be collected and pumped up to the fixtures, and the bathroom would have a composting toilet. Think of a tiny home in the trees! Take advantage of the views, sounds, and fresh air with lots of windows.

Treehouses are better suited to warm climates. Otherwise you’d have to insulate the plumbing and make sure the cistern did not freeze. However, I have friends who have lived in small cabins (12’x12’) with no running water and an outhouse. Treehouse living could be that simple, and there would be no worries about freezing pipes. But you have to be willing to haul water.


Treehouse villas as found at Disney world Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. Treehouse living need not be rustic.

A getaway, studio or guesthouse

Maybe you don’t want to live in a treehouse. Maybe you just want a getaway, like we had at my friend’s house. You wouldn’t need to worry about water and plumbing fixtures. The structure could have a couple of rooms with furniture for relaxing on. Turn one into a spare room with a queen sized bed for guests or for napping.

A treehouse is suitable as a studio, too, if your craft is not too intensive. I am thinking of a writing room with power, wifi, my files, and all the supplies I need to work. This would be a unique home office! Views and nature are inspirational, so you’d probably be more productive.

Good design

A treehouse can be situated in a single tree or nestled within a grouping. Good design is a must, and an architect and possibly an engineer would need to be hired. It can be as practical or fantastic as you desire. Create a low impact with salvaged materials, and recycled and upcycled furnishings. You will have a one-of-a-kind home, studio or guesthouse, while you are reconnecting with your roots – nature.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.