Design Inspiration and Ideas for Your Backyard Treehouse

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By Kerrie Kelly, ASID

When I graduated from design school, I never would have guessed that one of my favorite design projects would be a treehouse. But as children, didn't we all pine for a super secret clubhouse to entertain our friends in?

Last year, I got to indulge my inner kid in a very big way when I teamed up with Pulte Homes to build a treehouse that was raffled off to benefit a local child abuse charity in Northern California. The lucky winner had the treehouse installed in his own backyard, and when I saw the look on his face, I instantly became a treehouse advocate.

Whether you plan to DIY or hire it out, let's consider the possibilities.

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Architectural Awesomeness

First, a treehouse really is just a small house, so think of the items you'd put in your own dream home. Add some fun, shrink the scale, and see what happens. In the house we designed, we used a ladder for the entrance to create the illusion of heading somewhere special and secret (and slightly inaccessible to the grown-ups), and a slide to make a fast and fun escape. We also used hardwood floors, window coverings and hardware made of branches to carry out an actual design theme. A fun Dutch door was added upstairs to access the balcony and let the sunshine in.

In my next treehouse, I'm determined to add a mailbox for messages and a skylight for sleepover stargazing!

Design Inspiration and Ideas for Your Backyard Treehouse

Just Plain Cool

Once you've made your house a home, make it a home for kids by adding the extras that make it a place they'll remember when they're too big for that ladder. Put safety first, of course, but if a slide is just too mundane for your little one, consider a zipline exit if you've got the space for a smooth landing. Of course, you'll need a flagpole to let that fun flag fly. Other kid-friendly ideas include chalkboards, bird feeders, or a funhouse mirror. And a secret bookshelf that hides the world's greatest hide-and-seek spot is sure to get you nominated to the "Grown-Up Hall of Fame."

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The Simple Safety Stuff

To keep the thrills and spills to a minimum, you'll want a solid railing around any outdoor or deck space on your tiny home. As a back-up, a healthy mound of mulch and bark beneath will significantly soften the fall for any of your tenants (who are always out to test bone density and parental stress levels). For your own safety, remember that communities have different ordinances regarding additional structures on residential property. After you speak with the folks at City Hall, make sure to have a conversation with the neighbors if your construction will impede their view in any way.

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We'd love to hear the treehouse dreams we've awakened from your own childhood!

Award-winning California interior designer Kerrie Kelly writes for The Home Depot. Usually, Kerrie is writing about décor, including doors and windows, for living spaces a bit bigger than treehouses, such as these found here on the Home Depot website.

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