The Hale-Edmonds family has built a life-sized treehouse outside of Seattle that fosters their toddler twins’ imaginations as well as their own penchant for DIY projects. Faced with an almost un-buildable cliff-side property, Prentis Hale, a founder of SHED Architecture and Design, embraced the challenge and designed a gorgeous treehouse home that incorporates many repurposed and recycled materials.
The Hale-Edmonds chose the property because of its low-cost (their budget was under $25K) and its proximity to their plot in a community garden — not to mention the surrounding nature. The challenging site didn’t daunt them, and after many designs Hale settled on a cantilever-like plan, which set part of the house flush with the tree boughs. The open design is a dream for children and adults alike that focuses on bringing the family together.
Hale covered the exterior with asphalt roll roofing to mimic the surrounding tree bark and installed hammocks on the decks to complete the treehouse effect. The windows and porches peek right into nature, and the girls’ room windows are set within a tree — one year the girls were delighted to find their room afforded them a view of a squirrel nest.
The interiors are open and focus largely on DIY arts and crafts. As a furniture maker himself, Hale designed many of the interior furnishings from his favorite material – plywood. His plywood couch features storage for the girls’ books. The tables, floors, and even some walls are made of plywood or cork, which provides a soft and inexpensive surface to tack the girls’ artwork right into. Much of the bathroom fixtures are salvaged or surplus from other jobs.
The three floors have open sight lines so the Hale-Edmonds can keep an eye on their twins Maisie and Pippa easily — they are usually playing or making crafts together in the giant living room or the arts loft, which will someday become a third bedroom for one of the girls. The house calls back to the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, with its simple materials, ties to the surrounding land, openness, and affordability (Hales 1,644 square foot home cost $162.82/each foot!). The cantilever treehouse design is also evocative of Wright’s Falling Water– and like Wright, Hales (or his friends) designed all of the interior and furniture.
This happy family turned what appeared to be an unlivable hillside into a family-sized treehouse — the perfect setting to raise their twins in a setting close to nature and family.