This Dreamy 164-Square-Foot Treehouse Was Built Entirely by Hand for Only $15k
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Name: Will Sutherland and Sabrina Hartley
Location: Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Size: 164 square feet
Type of Home: Hand-Built Treehouse
Years lived in: 1 year, owned
“Situated 20 feet above a rock outcropping and between oak and hickory trees, this 164-square-foot treehouse in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, has been shared with travelers since its completion in March of 2021. I had always dreamed of building a treehouse and was able to construct this one while quarantining during the pandemic,” writes Will Sutherland, who says that the treehouse has already made back the $15,000 it cost for him and his wife, Sabrina Hartley, to build it themselves. Though neither of them had built a treehouse before, Will says he learned a lot about construction by working on a farm from 7th grade through college. And Sabrina, along with helping to build the treehouse, also brought her expertise as an arborist to the project, making sure that the tree remained healthy throughout the process, starting with the very first element: “The foundation rests on heavy-duty treehouse attachment bolts known as ‘TABS’ along with slider brackets that allow tree growth and movement,” explains Will.
Though only 164 square feet in size, the treehouse isn’t lacking in comforts. There’s a queen-sized bed tucked in a cozy nook, and above, there’s a lofted full-size mattress for kids. Another cozy window nook with huge windows and a sofa is the perfect place to read a book or enjoy a beverage. A tiny kitchen offers a mini-fridge and cooking supplies, and outside a large deck overlooks a holler. There’s even a heater and air-conditioning to get the temperature inside just right. There’s not a bathroom inside, but guests to the treehouse can enjoy a traditional outhouse just steps away (that Will and Sabrina promise is a pleasant experience), and they also offer a standard bathroom and shower at their primary residence a short walk away. And of course, there’s the ample treehouse/cabin vibes thanks to the interior’s rustic style. “I made all of the interior surfaces out of black walnut that I sourced locally and milled on my bandsaw mill. The interior trim is cedar, which I also milled,” Will describes.
Though the couple has a primary residence that’s not in a tree, they still enjoy the treehouse often; Will and Sabrina say they spent two full weeks living in the treehouse themselves before listing it for rent. “We still stay in it whenever we want and our friends/family stay in it all the time.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Cozy cabin styling
Inspiration: I’ve always wanted to build a cool treehouse.
Favorite Element: The window nook that overlooks the property. It feels like you’re sitting in a tree in total comfort no matter the weather.
Biggest Challenge: The foundation, or platform that the treehouse is built on, required a lot of research.
Proudest DIY: The kitchenette!
Biggest Indulgence: The interior cedar trim
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? It’s a treehouse that we love to share with guests! It’s so fulfilling to see people make great memories at the treehouse.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? The stainless steel milk container that we use as a water dispenser. It’s beautiful and durable.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Kitchen shelving rather than cabinets work well in a small space and a tall bed allows for great storage space underneath.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Just maintaining a theme when decorating helps with decorating decisions. The treehouse theme is “wildlife.”
PAINT & COLORS
- All wood, no paint was used
- Rug from Target
- Chase lounge from IKEA
- I made the live-edge coffee table/bench with black walnut
- Curtains from IKEA
DINING ROOM & KITCHEN
- I made the live-edge tall table and counter with black walnut
- I made the live-edge bedside tables and the bed frame.
- Mattress is made by Nectar
- Lamps came from IKEA
- Curtains are handmade by a friend
- I built the outhouse, which even has a small chandelier inside!
Thanks Will and Sabrina!
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.