Tree houses were once seen as the domain of children, hastily slapped together from scrap wood as a fun place to play. But over the past few decades, craftspeople have seen the potential in these elevated structures, envisioning dreamy getaways high up in the treetops that rival the cozy fictional Endor dwellings of the Ewoks in Star Wars.
From complex villages connected by rope bridges and ladders to fantasy cabins with staircases that spiral around moss-covered trunks, these skyscrapers of the forest manage to combine rustic architectural typologies with incredible views, a sense of seclusion and a camping experience unlike any other.
Luxury tree houses take that experience to the next level, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature while enjoying all the comforts of home. Set within the oaks of Dorset, England, the Woodsman’s Treehouse is one beautiful example, combining all of the classic elements of treehouse camping with resort amenities.
Woodworker Guy Mallinson spent five months and nearly $184,000 to complete the project, and the result is a glamorous vacation home that could easily serve as some lucky inhabitant’s full-time residence. Aiming to bring a modern spin to classic treehouse aesthetics, Mallinson clad the exterior in oak shingles and laths as well as stacks of sweet chestnut logs, giving the structure a striking textural palette.
The treehouse is elevated on stilts to raise it up within the branches of three surrounding oak trees, taking shelter within them without negatively affecting them in any way. Environmental considerations were important to the builders, who wanted to avoid burdening them with heavy loads or penetrating them with metal bolts.
“It is a substantial structure that has been carefully designed to not stress the trees in any way,” says Mallinson on his website. “With that in mind, we don’t touch the trees at all, allowing rain water to run down the stems and wildlife to travel up and down in the normal way, hence maintaining the delicate ecosystem of the oak tree… we believe that the tree hag down in response to its environment and as such should be left well alone.”
Outside, the treehouse features a spacious rear deck with a wood-fired pizza oven, barbecue and just about the dreamiest shower you can imagine, set right next to a hammock with endless supplies of on-demand hot water in all weather conditions. A spiral staircase leads to the 30-foot-high roof deck, which functions as a sky-high spa with a hot tub and sauna.
Inside, a central wood stove heats the circular living area, with all rooms open to its warmth – even the gleaming copper tub, which enables bathers to gaze out an oversized picture window. There’s also a private bathroom and a fully-equipped kitchen, making the treehouse fully self-contained.
Architect Keith Brownlie sought a grown-up, modern aesthetic for the structure, arranging its functions around a central octagon clad in alternating diagonal stripes of douglas fir and cedar.
“The treehouse is determinedly architectural, eschewing archetypal ‘Dr Seuss’ aesthetic kitsch in favor of controlled composition and material exploration,” he explains. “The timber building draws on diverse architectural and cultural references combining with theatrical effects to create a visually rich and playful construction in the picturesque tradition.”