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October 17, 2011

Up In The Trees

Kate Hart

A few months ago, I mentioned that my husband and I had quit our jobs and were starting a treehouse-building business. (If you thought we were crazy, it's okay. Lots of people did. We weren't so sure ourselves.)

Well, the business is doing really well, and that is 98% thanks to my husband (whose name I might as well use-- y'all know how to work the magic Google machine). I designed some brochures; Josh drives to the sawmill, does all the designing, heavy lifting, and tree climbing, and deals with customers (aka STRANGERS. On the PHONE. He's like Superman.)

But here's the thing: no one wants to hire you to build an awesome treehouse until you can prove that you are, in fact, capable of building an awesome treehouse. So guess what went up in my backyard?

Right now, the inside is "Up In The Trees Restaurant," where my children have been serving tasty meals of leaves and acorns. But this winter, once the structure is watertight, I will KICK THEM OUT move a bunch of pillows and blankets out there and set up writing camp.

Josh uses locally-sourced cedar and cypress, so that we don't have to ship redwood in from the West Coast.  I know not everyone is familiar with Arkansas geography, so I made this handy explanatory map.

The treehouses themselves are designed to impact the environment as little as possible, too. You can see how the walls are built around the trunks of our elm tree, and when possible, we use recycled materials. For example, the front window came from a neighbor's house, and the back window is my parents' old sliding glass door.

There's a real door now, and this winter, we're going to replace the ladder with something like these!

I'm already stressing over which titles to use though. What books would you choose for your own book steps?


I realize very few of you live near me (see handy map above for confirmation), but if you want to check out our other projects, you can do so on Facebook or on our website.
Stairs picture is from this Tumblr.


  1. First, that is one nice tree house, and it will make a wonderful writing cave. I might be jealous.

    Second, as an Arkansan, I appreciate the map. It made me laugh. :)

  2. Kate, I'm so super jealous of your treehouse! If I ever scrape together enough money to put a treehouse on my parents' NWA farm, I'm totally calling you guys.

    Also, if you want to build me a treehouse/writer's cave in Dallas, that would be good too. :)

    For my book staircase, I'd start with Thomas Hardy titles and work my way from there.

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  4. THIS IS ALL KINDS OF AMAZING. I'm jealous and in awe. I've always wanted a treehouse! My cousins and I used to try to make clubhouses of our didn't work so well.

    As far as books for my own book steps? I'd probably stick with children's classics, like some of the titles in the above picture: Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Phantom Tollbooth, etc.

    So excited for you and your writing retreat! :D

  5. THIS IS SOOOO AWESOME! I gasped, then squealed in envy at the stairs with the book titles and the soon-to-be writing retreat. Amazing. This is perhaps the best reason ever to 'quit your day jobs' :)

    Also, you should change your last name to 'Robinson', as in Swiss Family or Crusoe. Just sayin'...

  6. Kate, this is pretty much the COOLEST THING EVER. I now want a writing treehouse SO BAD. I mean, I probably need to get a yard with a tree in it first, but still...

    I think I would keep most of the titles already used in the picture :)

  7. Kate! This is AMAZING! One of the coolest things I've ever seen. Color me green.. I kind of want one, ha! :)

  8. Writing treeeeeeehouse. Amazing.

    Titles: Neverending Story, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Sky is Everywhere - trying to think of tree or story or sky inspired titles.

  9. Oh, it's lovely! It makes me miss Arkansas a little, just seeing all the trees. Yeah, we've got trees in Oregon (and plenty of them), but it's not the same.

    Okay, books: The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver), Pride and Prejudice, The Doorbell Rang (Rex Stout), Whatever Ed McBain has the most fantastic title (he wrote a lot), On the Banks of Plum Creek, Ramona Quimby Age 8, and The Amazing Adventures of Kaviler and Clay.

    I'm right next to my bookshelf, so it's pretty easy to pull those out of my head. I think your little retreat is fantastic. But I do wonder, how are you going to heat it?

  10. Ugh. I'm totally coveting your tree house / writer cave.

    Covet, covet, covet.

    And I'd have Watership Down on my book stairs.


  11. I was actually thinking of those treehouses the other day! I've been daydreaming about putting a sunroom or screenroom in the garden for use as a lounge/writing cabana/outdoor dining area.

    I looked at wooden sheds,too, by a local builder, that can be customized. But then I thought, "If I'm going with wood, why not a treehouse like Kate's husband builds?"

    The glitch is that the big trees on our property are not tree house friendly; gray pines ooze a lot of sap and drop LARGE pine cone bombs regularly. Oh, and that whole Living in California When the Harts Are in Arkansas thing.

  12. Oh my word that looks amazing! Can I come to your house and play?

  13. So. Awesome. I always wanted a treehouse!

  14. Love, love, love, all of this! I thought Laurie Halse Anderson's mad woman in the forest writing cottage (search YouTube for the video) was amazing, but your tree house is tops!

  15. I WANT A WRITING TREEHOUSE! I don't even have a yard or a tree, but I need to make this happen somehow.

  16. I would totally suggest some book titles except I seem to have forgotten ALL THE BOOKS I've read because HOLY WOW AMAZING THAT TREEHOUSE.


    OMG the map. Ha. Sometimes I feel like drawing a big doodle of the US, outlining NY and CA and shading the rest fo the US and writing "other states go here." (Unfortunately I have clients who think this way)

    If I visit I NEEEED to come see the treehouse. Tea and cookies from Rick's bakery, please.

  17. I want one!!! :D It's SO aweomse. Too bad I don't live in Arkansas. :(

  18. Okay, this is pretty much the greatest thing EVER! Why does Arkansas have to be so far from Washington? I want you and your husband to build a (writing) treehouse in my backyard!

    Love the titles already on the staircase picture, particularly Charlotte's Web and Number the Stars. I say stick with classics and absolute favorites.

  19. Thank you all so much! :)

    GrammarEdit: Space heater + extension cord to the house. That's the current plan.

    Angelica: We are currently being bombarded with black walnuts. I'm afraid they're going to crack my skull. Or the roof.

    Capillya: TOTALLY.

  20. You and your husband are so incredibly talented. That's such a beautiful treehouse.

  21. I'm so late commenting on this, but I think it's SOOOOO awesome! I have serious treehouse envy.

    When you get it all jazzed out for a writing space you should do a before/after picture---I'd love to see how you get it to be all cozy.

    Also, please hop over to DC and make me one. Kthanks.

  22. Umm...that's kind of rad. And I want one. Eventually. When I have a yard with trees to build one in.

    And ditto the people who want to see pictures when you get it all decked out! Having a treehouse writing cave would be so awesome.

  23. Wow. Y'all have the best job ever. Period. It's true.
    My books would include Catcher in the Rye, Jane Eyre, Ender's Game, The Neverending Story, Harry Potter (not sure which one, though--probably the seventh), aaaaaand The Divine Comedy (my favorite is Purgatory). I've seen that image circulating Pinterest for a while. I love it! I just wish I had stairs in my house. (Well, almost.)

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