Dear Friends: We built a treehouse! Now our little grandchildren have a place to hang out when they come to visit.
Building a Back Yard Treehouse
When playgrounds were closed because of the pandemic, it became more important to provide a place for kids to play.
Since we have four acres here on the edge of Invermere, British Columbia, we decided to install a play structure for our grandchildren.
Apparently everyone else had the same idea, since playground equipment is currently sold out across the country!
So we came up with another plan: to create our own play area.
Our four acres are mostly treed mountainside, but we found a nice level spot on the slope below our house (you can see the house in the background, just above my husband’s head).
First we had to clear away the brush and trees — and the kids were eager to help. This is Nora, aged seven, and my husband Heinz.
Next we had the building materials delivered.
We hired a couple of local carpenters to put it together.
The trees here in our alpine forest are too spindly to support an entire treehouse. But we fastened a beam between the deck and a nearby tree that was strong enough to support three swings.
Since it’s connected to a tree, that’s how we can get away with calling it a treehouse!
And here is the treehouse after the framing was finished, measuring six by eight feet with a two-foot deck on three sides. Note the three swings hanging from the beam.
Next, my husband installed a sheet of treated plywood and built a climbing wall.
On the other side of the treehouse there will be a slide, if and when it ever arrives. As I mentioned, playground equipment is back-ordered for months!
My husband has it in mind to add a zipline through the trees — I’m still not sure about that one!
It was quite a job to lay out all the footholds and decide where they should go.
All five grandchildren were excited to get into the new treehouse by Canada Day on July 1, 2020.
From left: Jack and Axel, both two years old; Juliet, four; Nora, seven; and Quinn, four. Since they all live here in our town, they will make good use of it!
Nora decided the treehouse needed a sign, so she painted this one.
She also thought the area underneath should be the designated “Truck Zone” for playing with toy trucks.
A small picnic table is being enjoyed by some Little Ponies.
The kids are getting a huge kick out of this basket, which they use to lift and lower toys, rocks, flowers, and anything else they can find from the ground to the deck.
My husband painted the exterior, using leftover paint from our own house.
Here’s a shot of our main house, taken at sunset last spring.
To see interior photos of our home: How to Make a New House Look Old.
The room that juts out on the right side is my office. To see photos: Home Office.
When it was time to paint the interior, I had three trusty assistants: Juliet, Quinn, and Nora.
(We waited until the two-year-old boys were napping because we knew they would want to help!)
At first it was like the kids in Tom Sawyer — everyone was wildly enthusiastic!
Juliet stuck it out the longest, painting herself in the process.
I show you this photo only because I want you to sympathize with my aching right arm! I painted the ceiling after the kids had gone home.
When the paint was dry, we moved this item of furniture inside. We always called it the “doll dresser.” It came from my mother’s family and is probably 100 years old.
And we added this cute hand-painted table that I purchased at a garage sale.
Juliet and Nora tell me that it will be used for many picnics and tea parties!
Outside, the swings are also getting a good workout.
We even added a wooden bench nearby, purchased at an Amish auction in Montana, where the parents can sit and watch the kids.
This is my daughter Katie and husband Tom, parents of Nora, Juliet and Jack.
The kids have started to line the path up to the house with stones.
And I added a personal touch. I found this piece of driftwood at Qualicum Beach, B.C. and painted a sign for the play area. “Shady Nook” was the name of the cabin that belonged to my grandparents, George and Mary Margaret Florence, at Meeting Lake, Saskatchewan. Shady Nook passed out of the family decades ago, but the name has many happy childhood memories for me.
We hung the sign pointing down the hill toward the treehouse.
We hope that the kids will make many of their own happy memories in Shady Nook!
(P.S. If you are planning to build your own treehouse, this website might help you: Ultimate Treehouse Planning Guide.)
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