A Treehouse Retreat

A Treehouse Retreat

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Melissa DiRenzo
Aug 10, 2015
(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Earlier this summer, I was lucky enough to be invited by my blogger pal Lynne Knowlton to spend a few nights at the most amazing treehouse on her even more amazing property in Ontario. I said yes immediately, obviously. Lynne and her family have welcomed many friends over the years and, as of last year, have now opened the doors of their country paradise to those wanting a unique escape. The place is incredible, and so is the way they took a neglected, overgrown property in the middle of nowhere and created the most serene, beautiful place.

Before jumping into the slideshow that I know you're dying to see, I think it's really interesting to see some of the process- it makes the transformation that much more impressive.

(Image credit: Lynne Knowlton)

On the Knowlton property, located near the town of Durham, Ontario, along with the house and the treehouse, there's also a big pool and outdoor kitchen and living area. The pool is built within the walls of an old buried barn stone foundation, which adds so much character. This is what it used to look like...

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

And here's what it looks like now. Now there's a reason to get up with the sun for an early morning dip.

(Image credit: Lynne Knowlton)

Here's a picture of the treehouse being built. The structure was built with new wood, but the shell and decor is almost all repurposed material.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

And here it is today. Did I mention it has a slide?!

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

It's always great to get some insight about a space from the owners and hear the inside story. I asked Lynne about the history of the property, the motivation behind the building of the space, and what she loves most about it.

Q: When you came to look at the property for the first time, abandoned and covered in snow, deep in the country, what was it that you saw that made you say "this is it”?
As odd as it may seem, it had good bones. Although the house was really rough, I could see a diamond in that rough.

Q: How many years have you lived on the property? What year did the pool go in? What year did the treehouse go up?
We have lived here for about 13 years. I have lost track of time. According to the locals, we have to be here 50 years before they will refer to us as locals. The pool went in about 10 years ago. The treehouse has been kicking around for about 4 years.
(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)
Q: What's your favorite season on the property and why?
Definitely summer. Woot! Because the treehouse isn’t insulated, we close it up for the winter. Insert *sad face* When the pool is covered with a big black winter tarp, I want to declare it National Depression Day.

Q: Where is your ultimate favorite spot to sit and relax?

The hammock chair on the treehouse porch is heavenly. The large hammock under the treehouse takes a close second. Both of the hammocks remind me to slow down and just chill it.
(Image credit: Lynne Knowlton)
Q: How would you describe your style?
That's so tough to answer! Hmmm. My style is to work with what I’ve got and try to keep my budget as low as possible. That usually never happens, but I sure make it my goal. What ends up happening is that I paint everything white and keep things super simple. I believe that our minds are busy enough, so I try to have little clutter and clean lines so things don’t look too busy. I work with reclaimed materials as much as possible.

Q: What's your main source of design inspiration?

My head. There’s a lot in there. My travels, my surroundings, it can be almost anything. I used to be a mosaic artist and everywhere I looked, I thought, "that could be a mosaic"…. it was ridiculous. My head was overrun with mosaics. I use Pinterest to keep gatherings of online ideas. I use my imagination to keep gatherings of my offline ideas.

Q: Your biggest challenge so far?

Trying to get everything done. I’m a full-time blogger and my goal is to help others to "design the life you want to live" (hence, the name of my blog). I would love to continue to teach others how to make their house into a home and how to blog along the way. An online presence is essential in today's landscape. I’m a bit of a nerd that way. I love the behind-the-scenes of what it takes to make things happen. The challenge is to squeeze more hours into a day.

Q: What you want friends/visitors to say when they leave the treehouse?

That they left with a quiet mind and a full heart.
(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)
Q: Biggest embarrassment?
That’s easy. I embarrass myself every day. Truth is, the biggest mistakes and embarrassments are usually where the rubber meets the road and I do my best thinking, usually while sipping red wine.

Q: Your proudest D.I.Y project?
The treehouse toity. LaTREEn. We built it in 30 days. It’s just a wee cabin but it is pretty special. Who knew that a bathroom would be my proud accomplishment? Talking about toilets may lead to my biggest embarrassment. Who talks about the toilet?
(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)
Q: Your biggest design indulgence?
Brizo faucets. Brizo really nailed it when they said, "Luxury should do more than simply look good." Although it is a treehouse, it is a retreat space that we rent to guests via Airbnb and Trip Advisor and I wanted to have beautiful faucets and toilet (yup, there I go talking about toilets again) and a gorgeous shower. I love love love Delta/Brizo faucets. They feel so strong and solid. Kinda like a fireman.
Q: What's your best advice for creating your dream home?
Homes are happiest when they are full and where there is a lot of laughing going on. I try to make my space feel as welcoming as possible, nothing is off-limits (except maybe my rose gin.) Light, bright, and refreshingly white. Can you tell that I love white?

Q: Lastly, are there any future design plans for your space?
We are building a small building next to the treehouse with a kitchen and more sleeping space. Right now, the treehouse can only comfortably sleep two people. We just bought an Airstream! We are in the midst of renovating it and it may be my biggest design challenge so far, but I love it. I’ll be sharing the journey on my blog and also renting the Airstream out to guests this summer. It should be ready in August so stay tuned!
(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)
I can still remember the feeling of pure bliss drinking my morning coffee in this exact spot. Hopefully it wasn't my last! If you're as impressed and curious about this treehouse retreat as I'm guessing you are, be sure to stop by Lynne's blog, Design the Life You Want to Live, for tons of photos and more about Lynne and her family. Thanks, Lynne!
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