Remember reading stories about Babar the elephant and his friend Zephir the monkey? (image courtesy Pixelcreation.fr)
Now you can join their treetop world! Read on...a Fun Friday Post by Houseplans.com UX Designer Carol Chen:
We had been driving all day through the rugged forests of southern Oregon. As the sun was setting, we saw a promising painted sign that directed us off the main road. Several signs and dirt paths later, we finally arrived at our destination. In the twilight, we made out our surroundings: forest, horses, a tire swing, and zip lines. Looking up, however, the real magic came into focus. Silhouettes of suspended bridges lined with string lights criss-crossed overhead. Spiraling stairways wrapped around tree trunks and disappeared into the branches. 'Welcome to Out 'n' About Treehouse Treesort
' read a large sign. A colorful map illustrated the available accommodations, from the luxurious high-flying 'Majestree' to the relatively grounded 'Elementree', for those more inclined to stay on the earth.
After checking in, we made our way towards our home for the next two nights - the 'Pleasantree', shown above. We climbed a narrow stairway and then ventured onto the maze of suspended catwalks. Despite the rattling, swaying, and my general lack of grace, the bridges themselves felt surprisingly safe. A pulley system right in front of the house allowed us to haul our luggage up from the ground below, bypassing any need to wrestle suitcases across the elevated walkways.
I'm not sure what I expected the inside of a treehouse to be like. In my head, treehouses evoked visions of rickety boxes perched precariously atop backyard oaks. In contrast, the 'Pleasantree' was a homey, solidly-crafted structure. The most striking feature was the living tree trunk rising through the house center. This addition made the interior adhere to a radial, doughnut-shaped configuration. There was a loft space large enough for a queen bed and on the main floor, there was a bunk bed, a table, and even a full bathroom with running water. It was a bit cramped, but we had everything we could need and more.
Waking up in the treehouse was peaceful. The forest-filtered sunlight made everything soft and muted. Birds and squirrels scurried in the branches right outside the window. It was the middle of winter, but the small space kept us cozy and warm. Sounds traveled well through the wooden bridges connecting the suites. We could hear other visitors traversing the pathways outside and talking by the campfire.
During the day, we were allowed to tour some of the other unoccupied treehouses. The 'Majestree', true to its name, was simply stunning (shown at the top of this post). Sitting nearly 50 feet high, it is a beautiful octagonal house with panoramic windows and gorgeous interior woodwork. There are no full walls inside creating a very open but intimate space.
The Out 'n' About Treesort is owned by self proclaimed "entreepreneur" Michael Garnier, who invented the 'Garnier limb', a treehouse anchor designed to effectively support tree-borne structures. The device acts in a way that is minimally intrusive to the tree, so that the tree remains healthy and continues to grow. Michael and his family live right off of the main Treesort grounds in a breathtaking 3-story tree mansion supported by no less than 7 trees. Michael actively consults for treehouse projects and has traveled around the world to help people everywhere achieve their own treehouse dreams.
My own fascination with treehouses is surely rooted in whimsical childhood fantasies, where treehouses served as secret bases, time machines, covert kid-friendly spaces. The treehouse is a retreat, an escape, a world apart from crazy modern life. But perhaps we should not be so quick to dismiss treehouses as just a childhood frivolity. Treehouses mean living in harmony with nature, a philosophy that Out 'n' About strongly adheres to. The health and vitality of the tree and the forest become crucial to the integrity of the home. For now, treehouse architecture is still somewhat of an experimental and offbeat niche. Eventually though, treehouses may very well play a role in the movement towards more sustainable living.