Making a Modern Treehouse

treehouse and motorcylces

My brother in law, Quinn Petersen, is the brilliant owner and founder of QP Collections, They’re a company that makes artisan ties, wallets and now a beautiful new line of bags I’m dying over (see below!). Well, besides owning a successful business, having exceptional taste in both design and women (being married to my sister Katrina and all),  he also does amazing renovations and design projects in their home. Every time we visit there’s something beautiful and functional they’ve created on a small budget.

This is his most recent project, a treehouse in their yard made of recycled windows and wood. Isn’t it incredible? When I first saw the images my jaw just dropped and then dropped again when I found out it cost them only about $800 to build. I immediately asked my talented photographer friend who lives near them, Ashley Thalman, to head on over and take some photos so I could share a full tour with you here on Say Yes.

diy treehouse

build your own treehouse

treehouse out of vintage windows

When I was in Utah we had a chance to see it ourselves! I just love the design inside and out. There are special little details everywhere, like the window in the shape of the state of Utah where they live. Keep reading to get all the specifics on how this came about, his inspiration, a bit about the process, and wait until you see what creature lives inside…

Photography by Ashley Thalman for Say Yes

What gave you the wild idea of building a treehouse in the first place? 
It never really crossed my mind that it was a wild idea.  I guess I have always wanted one, so I just built it.  Plus, I sort of ran out of projects to do inside my house and I wanted to expand out back anyway.
How did you learn to build a treehouse (or build in general!)?
I guess it came down to a physics class I took in high school.  I have always constructed things of my imagination, and that naturally leads from one thing to another.  Trial and error is also a major reality when it comes to many of my constructions.  I’m a firm believer that if you have a power drill, a couple saws, and some caffeine, you can really build anything.
diy tree house
Where do you find inspiration for your projects and designs? 
To be honest I’m not entirely sure, I guess I’m inspired by a lot of things I’ve been logging in my memory, things that have built up my tastes over the years.  That and the fact that I’ve collected a lot of things I wanted to use in building and decorating.  I also needed to make space for other things I’ve acquired, like furniture pieces or my motorcycle collection, etc.  So believe it or not, part of the inspiration for the treehouse comes from practical origins and necessity for space.
Can you tell us a bit about the general construction of it? 
Well, I drew many designs for different treehouses around our property and nothing seemed to work because we don’t have any trees that are mature enough for a good, solid treehouse.  I just kept hitting a dead end. Then late one night, as cliche and silly as it may be, I couldn’t sleep and the thought came to me: “What if I suspend the treehouse between this cluster of five trees next to our driveway?”  I woke up, threw on some pants and a headlamp, found my tape measure, and went out to see if the idea was even possible.  The next day I went to the hardware store and purchased some lumber.  After we began constructing the floor, the rest of the plan just fell into place.
vintage windows
Tell us about that amazing wall of re-purposed windows!
I had a few of the windows left over from different projects so I decided to make a whole wall of them. I drove around the county collecting them from antique stores and yard sales until I thought I had enough.
Then I build the frame for the dimensions I had planned out and I started laying windows down. Once we had filled the space as best I could, I purchased long boards that I layed over the entire backside of the window wall, and i screwed all the windows to this frame. I built a lip on the inside and the outside of the wall that holds it all into place.
treehouse out of found wood
live in treehouse
Were there any challenges you faced that you didn’t expect while building the treehouse? What was the hardest part? 
There were a number of issues involved with the construction, most of which were dealt with through trial and error during the designing process, and I certainly consulted a lot of people along the way.  The only trees I had to work with were not ideal so many modifications were required.  Because there are five separate trees holding up the house, the cluster naturally wants to tear the house into pieces when the wind blows.  So we made the platform only six feet off the ground where there isn’t as much tree movement, then built upward from there. The treehouse doesn’t touch the trees anywhere in the construction, other than the 7 bolts holding the floor platform to the trees.  This allows the trees move and sway in the wind while the treehouse remains completely still.  It also created a nice storage area underneath for my motorcycle collection.
How long did it take, and did you do all the work yourself?
It should have taken me three or four months, but when I start a project like this it really consumes my life.  I skip sleep and meals to complete it.  With a lot of energy drinks and a few “sick days” at work, I got it done in about three weeks.  I did most of it alone, but many of the steps required muscles much larger than mine, so I had a good friend on call for the bigger stuff.
Have you built anything else? 
I’ve built several pieces of smaller furniture, as well as both large and small modifications on my home.  For example, I designed and built a moving wall of shelves that serves as a partition between two sitting rooms but can also fold onto itself if I want to make one large space for parties.  Then of course there are all of my other constructions of products I sell, neckties, bags, wallets, and so on.
build a treehouse
bird in treehouse
Tell us about your feathered friend who lives in the treehouse?
His name is Benji after the heroic dog I loved as a kid.  I have always wanted a bird but never the mess or the noise, so we decided the treehouse was the perfect place to build him a home.  We built it into the corner of the treehouse design so it is a permanent addition.  He lives out there and we visit him every day.  He likes when people come over to visit, but he is still learning to play nice.
Can you tell us about any other creative endeavors on the horizon?
I poured so much of my creative juices into my newest bag collection for QP Collections, so between that and the treehouse, I really can’t imagine anything else in the near future. Although I do have another design for a pretty deluxe chicken coop that has been sitting in the back of my mind until I have the time and energy.  I have another great space on the other side of our house that needs some attention anyway, and we want some more feathered friends.
Thanks Quinn and Katrina for letting us take a peek into this special space! Make sure you check out QP Collections’ new line of bags which they shot in the treehouse (I’m obsessed with the messenger and helmet bags):
l-1 l-2 mb_ls_gr28


You actually make it appear really easy together with your presentation however I find this topic to be actually one thing that I believe I’d never understand.
It kind of feels too complicated and extremely wide for me.
I’m looking ahead on your next put up, I’ll try to get the dangle of it!

Incredible on so many levels and beautiful bags! Always love the qp ties

I love the windows, so brilliant. and it give so much light which is always a problem with treehouses (if i was an expert on such things). this isn’t a modern treehouse, it’s a modern home–incredible!

Quinn, looking forward to seeing the chicken coop. Building mine was a fun endeavor and I’m confident you’ll make sure every aspect is carefully thought out and figured. Cheers.

The tree house is fabulous. Quinn, you’re a genius. My two favorite ideas are 1.) making use of the old windows, and 2.) making the small stand of trees work. Fun!

Oh my gosh how incredible!! I can’t believe how amazing all those windows look

Comments are closed.