Design Architecture

Treehouse Envy: 12 Lofty Designs

Taking backyard play to new heights, these tree houses just might inspire you to create one to delight the kids—or your inner child.

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Growing up, the family with a cool tree house was the envy of the neighborhood. Not surprisingly, the romantic notion of a house in the sky still appeals to the child in all of us. These twelve outstanding examples might entice you to survey your own backyard for that one tree that might let you fulfill a long dormant dream.


This elaborate multi-level tree house is ideal for families with multiple children. With its colorful and eye-catching paint job and compartmentalized layout, this haven delivers a healthy dose of playfulness. A tree house this extravagant deserves to be showcased—not camouflaged. 


The key to the ultimate hidden tree house? Lots of mirrors. A mirror-clad exterior reflects the surroundings of this exciting camouflaged tree hotel – The Mirrorcube – in Scandinavia, ensuring that guests find a real escape amongst the trees. The optical illusion will prompt double-takes from passersby. Thankfully, the mirrored walls are clad with infrared film to prevent birds from flying too close. 

Mile High

Instead of building a backyard fort, why not relocate your entire family into the trees? Take a little design advice from the Korowai tribe of Papua in Indonesia, who live year-round in the trees. Secured to a strong banyan tree, these sky-high houses are safe from swarms of mosquitoes—and annoying neighbors.


If you prefer keeping your house nearer to the ground, then go all out with a backyard fort. This tree house and watchtower, connected by a swinging bridge, will spark endless hours of imaginative fun. Here, the waterside location adds to the magical allure, but this set-up will turn any backyard into an enchanting outdoor space.


What goes up, must come down—and we can’t think of a better way to exit a house in the sky than by whooshing down a slide. This fort sports both a slide and bridge, two features that are sure to spice up neighborhood games of tag.


This magical castle in the sky offers an even more elaborate ‘make-believe’ hideout for your kids and their friends. A shingled exterior gives the structure a medieval and polished finish. All you’re missing is the thatched roof—and attacking dragon!


Incorporating the interior of a carved-out stump, this quirky and rustic tree house offers a more literal take on the concept. Slanted windows and other deliberate off-kilter design elements add to this playhouse’s fairytale essence.

Spiral Stairs

When it comes to tree house entryways, many make do with 2x4s nailed to a tree trunk or a simple ladder. Those with a slight fear of heights (and a love of innovative design) will much prefer the spiral staircase seen here. Seamlessly incorporated into the yard’s fence design, this stairway brings a posh style to a rustic, outdoor escape.

Art Studio

While many DIY tree houses offer charm in their haphazard and piece-meal construction, this beauty stands out for the meticulous attention to detail in its design. Surrounded by the chaos of irregular tree branches, this sleek outdoor haven provides a calming environment for the art studio it houses inside.

Corrugated Metal

Providing an imaginary liftoff to the future, this spherical tree house will transform your kids into make-believe astronauts. Offering a clever use of recycled corrugated metal, the spaceship-like structure certainly stands out from typical tree house fare. Make sure to smooth away or cover any stray sharp edges, and you’ll all be ready for take-off!


What better inspiration for a tree house than an actual classic house design? A miniature version of the once popular A-frame house may make for cramped quarters, but its simple shape makes its construction much less complex.