Sonoma Tree House

SONOMA TREE HOUSE  /  Healdsburg, California

What began as an idea to create an intimate, simple folly in a magnificent pair of ancient fir trees quickly became much more grand when arborists revealed how large a platform the trees could actually support.

On a nearly 30-by-30-foot deck, we were able to create a rather substantial, permanent structure to function as both guest cottage and art studio. The 400-square-foot interior space sits within a U-shaped porch, offering views in three directions. The fourth side of the structure house utilities including, to the surprise of visitors, a fullyplumbed water closet. As the structure was going up, we found two pairs of Indian doors, one rustic and one fanciful Victorian complete with a lacy transom and original colored-glass panes that easily became the focal point. Its unusual height in turn mandated the dramatic height of the tree house walls. We further exaggerated this height by incorporating a windowed cupola that vents hot air in the summer months.

The structure is a whimsical exercise in surprise and contrast: the exterior, clad in rustic redwood, blends into the natural setting of the trees as it ages, but the jewel-box interior uses glittering finishes and fabrics on the walls, windows, and furnishings to delight guests. To further the sense of amusement, a zip line off one side offers a quick escape.

Photos by Edmund Barr

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