In general terms, a treehouse is a structure built using a living tree in some way. In many cases, tree houses are actually built inside a tree, but sometimes they are just leaning against a tree, or they may be built around trees. Usually, they are raised off the ground to give the impression of being part of the tree. The designs for treehouses can be very simple or very elaborate, and sometimes they are built primarily for the amusement of children, but they can also be permanent structures for people to live in.
Usually, treehouses for kids will be built so that they use the branches of the tree for support, although there are also cases where some of the support comes from beams. When building treehouses for children, safety can be an important issue to consider. For example, there is always the danger that children may fall from a treehouse, so railings are generally a good idea, and it’s important to make sure the houses are structurally sound.
People like to build treehouses for a lot of different reasons, but many cite a desire to get closer to the natural world. A treehouse is often designed so that it seems like it is a natural part of the environment where it is found. This can be accomplished by using organic designs and avoiding angular shapes. Most treehouses are also made of rustic-looking unpainted wood, partly for the same reason.
Some designers have tried to redefine what a treehouse should be. There are treehouses made of metal or designed in a futuristic way. In these cases, designers are seeking to emphasize the contrast between the modern industrial nature of the treehouse and the natural surroundings, often as an artistic statement.
Some treehouses have been designed in very elaborate ways for commercial use. There are treehouses that serve as restaurants and hotels. These are generally much larger and more likely to be built up into the trees instead of actually using the trees for structural support. Treehouses like this are wired for electricity and have running water.
There are companies that specialize in designing and constructing elaborate treehouses. It is also possible to buy treehouse plans and kits from many companies around the world. Some of the kits are made so that the average person can easily build a treehouse with very little help and minimal cost.