Pete Nelson has one of those careers you might have fantasized about at age eight but never realized is really possible: he’s the world’s best-known treehouse designer and builder.
Now, the star of Animal Planet’s reality show Treehouse Masters has compiled all his fort-building wisdom into a book, Be in a Treehouse: Design/Construction/Inspiration . If you’ve got fantasies of ditching your earth-bound home to move among the leaves, you’ll find ample temptation and instruction here. The guide portion of the book details everything from how to secure a building permit, to tree selection, to designing platforms in accordance with the International Building Code.
Nelson uses 21 of his own designs as case studies, each from Treehouse Point, his family’s treehouse-based bed-and-breakfast in Issaquah, Washington. “If your treehouse needs to be a classic single style–so be it. If it needs to be Frank Gehry–make it so! If it is something no one has ever seen before–more power to you. Just do it!” he encourages.
As inspiration, he also offers a tour of 26 of the world’s coolest treetop homes. Here, we’ve picked 13 of those dreamy sky-high huts, from the fairytale-worthy Witch House in Ibiza to a mirrored cube that reflects the Swedish wilderness.
This intricate cocoon sits at the trunk of a mighty hemlock. Rookie builder Joel Allen made it from $10,000 worth of free materials he found on Craigslist.
Bernd Weinmayer, a famous glass artist by trade, is also a crafty woodworker, and he built this beauty above his studio in the Tyrolean Alps. Inside, there’s a woodstove and a couch. A system of cowbells alert him to the arrival of visitors below.
This lavish resort is perched over the bank of the Zambezi River, which marks the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Trunks of a riverine ebony tree rise through the floor, and a basalt cliff makes up the structure’s back wall. It’s equipped with a claw-foot tub and toilet.
A man on an island off the Spanish mainland hired Nelson to build this fairytale treehouse for his supremely lucky young son, Daniel. An Aleppo pine hosts the magical creation.
The Mirrorcube is one of five individual treehouses that make up Sweden’s Treehotel. It has an infrared shield invisible to the human eye but fully visible to birds that would otherwise crash into it.
This bayou-style treehouse, perched in Cypress trees, is said to be a relic of the years after Prohibition, when the citizens of Uncertain, Texas (yes, that’s the town’s real name), in a dry county, would row across the bayou to patronize wet establishments in stilt houses in the neighboring county. A sign outside details the House Rules: 1. There ain’t any; 2. There never was none; 3. There ain’t gonna be none.
For more treehouses, click the slide show above.
Be in a Treehouse: Design/Construction/Inspiration is available here for $26.