"Treehouses are not just for children... they also make great retreats, workplaces and even second homes", says Natalie Bruckner.
There's something so very magical about a treehouse. It's an escape from reality, a chance to see things from a different view, a place where no-one will ever find you. But treehouses have moved on somewhat from the four bits of wood nailed together haphazardly, featuring a inventive canvas or blanket roof and perched precariously in a tree. In a world where we are constantly searching for something to provide us with a little tranquility in our own back yard, along comes the Uber-treehouse.
You want a two-bedroom version with electricity, broadband connection and a drawbridge, you got it. And the cost? Starting at a mere £15,000. It may seem a little excessive, that is until you see the pictures. Then all rationality melts away as you hear yourself shout 'I want one' from the rooftops. The popularity of the treehouse has made its way across the Channel and is growing here in the UK. So much so that in just a year there have been numerous companies sprouting up everywhere offering to build you your dream tree-home.
Paul Cameron who runs www.treehouselife.co.uk says demand for these lovely wooden specimens is growing faster than ivy. A few years ago Paul left the limelight of the West End shows where he was working as a session musician, and decided to set up a treehouse business. Quite a radical decision, but he wanted a change of pace and he believed in what he was about to do. Today you're more likely to find him answering enquiries five metres up a tree somewhere. Paul says: "I'd built a couple of treehouses for my boys. I went to he Ideal Home Show and had of those 'aha' moments. I noticed no-one was selling treehouses for anything other than commercial purposes; there was nothing that was just for fun and adventure." So he decided to branch out. Today Paul and his team travel up and down the country, as well as Europe. "We are currently doing a job in France for a guy who is renting out his home and will be staying in the treehouse during the rental season."
With four-storey treehouses that contain all the mod-cons, a wrap around balcony and even pulley to get your groceries up to your home, it's more like a luxury second home. "We can build anything you want. And even if you don't have a tree to build in or around and get really involved with, we can build one on stilts. We had a lovely old lady in her 70s and had grown up as a child with a fantastic view. Now she was living in a bungalow and the views are blocked, so we built her a tree deck five metres in the air with a spiral staircase so she could have those views that she dreamed of."
The idea of a treehouse also brings the family together. Paul says the children get involved from the very start with the design process, and then the fathers love helping out with the build part of it. The best part is that generally you don't even need planning permission, depending on where you live, the treehouse you are going for and as long as you don't go over four metres. "We use wood that is protected against rot and decay and a thatch roofing system for insulation. The wood is a pine from South Africa and treated timber from California. It's all about being natural and green. The idea of the hut is to blend in with its surroundings, and we tend to build them hexagonal so you get the views from every angle with balconies and decks for outside space and a sheltered area underneath where the kids can play even when it's raining."
But let's not get bogged down with statistics and facts, a treehouse is and always will be about bringing dreams alive and creating a place to escape. And with the added bonus of hot-tub, hammocks, bridges, nets and even electricity, no matter what Paul says, I still maintain a treehouse is a necessity rather than a luxury.