Treehouses can be for grown-ups too

Tucked away in the thick woodland of an Essex country estate lies a sprawling oak treehouse wrapped around six trees at the edge of a small clearing; it’s every child’s dream. Except that, once finished, the Treewood Buccaneer will not host a piratical playden brimming with swashbuckling swords (and a gang of marauding six year olds). Instead, it will have a cinema room, a hot tub and even a small kitchen, because the client, who commissioned it from Northamptonshire artisans

The Master Wishmakers, plans to use it as his own retreat (01536 417905; www.masterwishmakers.com). The Essex country-house owner is one of the many who are sparking a new fashion for grown-up treehouses. ‘We have seen a rise in demand for this kind of tree house,’ says Sege Rosella, co-founder of The Master Wishmakers.

He explains that, although the classic tree-borne playden remains popular with families with young children, the concept has also caught on among adults in the past few years. This is partly thanks to countryhouse hotels and resorts—such as Chewton Glen in Hampshire, Fernie Castle in Fife, Secret Bay in Dominica and the Treehotel, in the forest of Harads, Sweden—that have pioneered the idea of the tree house as a luxurious adult hideaway. Camilla Foster of Savills (020–7016 3718) believes that many people are feeling a new urge to make the most of their properties and are often influenced by what they see on holidays.

In particular, adds Mr Rosella, luxury hotels such as Chewton Glen ‘have proved to adults that it’s really fine to tap into their inner child and sense of fun. After all, most people always dreamed of having a treehouse when they were children—why shouldn’t that dream come true’?

Often, explains Rupert Sweeting of Knight Frank (020–7861 1078), people also want to have some ‘me’ time and treehouses are the perfect space to get away from everyone. Over his career, he’s seen them used as artist’s studios, music rooms, alfresco dining areas and even meditation rooms. However, another factor fuelling the appetite for tree living is a widespread desire to feel closer to Nature.

For example, the panoramic tree house at Stoneley House in Curry Rivel, Somerset (for sale through Jackson-Stops & Staff at £1.7 million, 01823 325144), has been designed so the family can enjoy the glorious views across the Somerset Levels at all times of the day—it comes with a wood burner, an upstairs loft-style bedroom and a balcony for alfresco dining. ‘We wanted to be able to sleep, cook and sit there in all weathers,’ explains owner Trevor Bedford.

Because they’re much more than a den, these new-generation treehouses are often very sophisticated, requiring electric wiring and lighting, full insulation, weatherproofing and plumbing. As a result, they tend to be more expensive than the traditional crop.

The Master Wishmaker quotes £25,000 for a classic children’s treeborne den against £50,000 as the
starting price for a single-room, adult treehouse, handmade from topquality materials and designed to be used as a media or games centre, and about £140,000 for a larger creation such as the Treewood Buccaneer, with the price comprising every step of the process from concept development to planning permission and final installation.

Inevitably, this begs the question of whether such an investment can eventually be recovered when reselling the property. ‘Luxury treehouses are still a fairly niche idea and it’s therefore difficult to assess their value,’ explains Anna Gardiner of Savills in Edinburgh (0131–247 3700).

Mr Sweeting believes that ‘a wellconstructed treehouse would have more value than a regular garden room or studio, but if one was to cost £100,000, it’s unlikely to add that to the value of a property.’ However, a good treehouse can make it easier to sell on your property in the future. ‘I think they’re seen as a bonus,’ says Mrs Gardiner. ‘For the right buyer, it could be a real perk.’

Above all, agents also point out that a beautiful, well-built, treeborne escape will add value to your life, and that of your family, for many years to come. Just take the treehouse at Pitchford Hall, in Pitchford, Shropshire, which Mr Sweeting fondly remembers as one of the finest he’s ever seen. Built in the style of the house, and beautifully decorated with stripped wooden floors and a ceiling cornice, it has been gracing the grounds for almost 400 years

Stoneley House in Curry Rivel, Somerset, has an enchanting tree house that overlooks the Somerset Levels. £1.7 million through Jackson-Stops & Staff (01823 325144).

* This article first appeared in Country Life Magazine on September 10 2014