Most treehouses feature childish colors and motifs, but this designer is building amazing treetop creations meant to look like real homes.

By Hannah Bruneman
March 27, 2019
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Think about the jobs you dreamt of as a child. If designing luxury treehouses was on your list, you're not alone. For one lucky woman, that dream is her reality.

Image courtesy of Barbara Butler

Barbara Butler designs, creates, and works with imaginative structures every day. She builds playhouses and treehouses that are far more impressive than the plastic sets you can buy at the store.

Mimicking the look of real homes, Barbara’s creations are classic and elegant. Realistic designs are the cornerstone of her custom structures, which are child-like in size but the envy of passersby young and old.

Image courtesy of Barbara Butler

“I think kids are very sophisticated in their sense of color and design in general," says Barbara. "They grasp primary colors by 2 years old and as they get older, they enjoy a more varied palette. I think many designers talk down to kids with themes and colors that are too young."

Barbara hopes her designs will pull children away from their screens and encourage more family playtime. Because the treehouses are larger in size and structurally sound, even adults will love spending time in them.

Image courtesy of Barbara Butler

One treehouse—a two-part home with a soft blue, green, and yellow color palette—mimics a restored cottage you’d find in a historic neighborhood. On the exterior, you’ll find monkey bars, swings, a rock-climbing wall, and a fireman’s pole. The interior is designed with the kids in mind and boasts bolder colors you’d expect to find in a child’s room.

Image courtesy of Barbara Butler

Another is built right at the heart of a mature oak tree. With branches extending from every direction, Barbara had her work cut out for herself. Just a few magical features include an open deck with a slide, a telescope, and a climbing net just waiting for playtime.

"I make my play structures and treehouses for kids and adults to use together but I do like to scale it more for kids," says Barbara. "It’s really fun to make secret escapes that kids just scramble through, but adults have trouble getting through!”

Some of Barbara’s clients include Robert Redford, Will Smith & Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Walt Disney Productions. It’s quite the eclectic mix of clientele, but so are Barbara’s builds—each one can be considered a multiuse space if you use your imagination.

Not all of Barbara’s structures are made to fit in with the neighborhood, of course. She has plenty of pirate ships, castles, and fortresses in her portfolio.

“My favorite structure (to create) is a treehouse that interacts with the tree and has lots of fun play features: a firepole, slide, secret escape, rock climbing, rope net climb. All with a nice high-up clubhouse for hanging out.”

We can certainly get on board with that. If you’ve ever wanted a magical treetop escape in your own backyard, Barbara might have a good solution. She designs for any home in the world and can do projects big and small. Check out her website for more details.

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