If you look up to the trees, it’s not a bird or a plane. It’s probably Pete Nelson creating and crafting another impressive and mind-blowing treehouse design. Pete returns as the star of Treehouse Masters when season 5 premieres tonight on Animal Planet.
We got the chance to chat with Pete Nelson about how he got started and created this successful business, what projects he’d love to try to tackle someday, what sort of creations we can expect to see in the upcoming new episodes, and his next exciting project.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Pete Nelson below:
So first off… Why treehouses?! Can you talk a little about your background and what inspired you to get into this business?
I have always been interested in carpentry. I was an economics major in college but I never pictured myself succeeding sitting behind a desk. And I knew I wanted to work for myself. I have tried various entrepreneurial adventures over the years but treehouse designing and building is what I can see myself doing forever. I don’t ever want to retire! In college I opened a skateboard shop (which failed – retail really isn’t my strong suit) and started a deck-building company.
I had built forts during my childhood, but I have always had a deep fascination with small structures and, specifically, treehouses. I decided that I wanted to write a coffee-table book filled with pictures of treehouses, and when I pitched it to a few publishers, they suggested I chronicle the building of a treehouse for the book. I convinced my best buddy’s parents to let us build it on their property and proceeded to spend a few weeks on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia building with a group of friends. The book, Treehouses, came out in 1995 and I have been hooked on building treehouses ever since.
What can we expect from the new season – and the new treehouses – in the upcoming episodes of Treehouse Masters?
We have a lot in store this season! I can’t believe how time flies when you are building the trees. Let’s see, we have a hard cider tasting room treehouse, French-themed dining room treehouse, Frank Lloyd Wright-style treehouse and OH, a SPACE CRAB treehouse for a rock star! I can’t say much more about the Space Crab, but it is unlike anything we have ever built before and I am so excited to see what people think.
What sort of challenges do you experience when taking on these projects?
Trees are obviously living organisms, so there are a lot of variables to take into account when designing and building treehouses. Sometimes you show up with a plan and there is a huge branch where you were envisioning the roof! The key to successful treehouse-building is creatively embracing those challenges and problem-solving. This is why treehouse-building is such a team collaboration. But as far as other challenges, treehouse-building can be very physical. Since you are working off of ladders, scaffolding and harnesses, each step takes a little longer. It’s always a good idea to double-check that you have everything you need for your project before you climb the tree to start working. There is nothing worse than forgetting your tape measure on the ground after you have climbed 30 feet up!
Do you have a favorite past project that surpassed all your expectations?
I can’t pick a favorite treehouse project. Each of them are so individualized for their owners, they make quantitative comparisons impossible. I like them all!
I always wanted a treehouse as a kid, and I love looking online and watching your show. Have you seen JK Rowling’s treehouse? It’s more like a tree-castle.
Wow! I hadn’t seen or heard of this before so I just went online and looked at some photos of this plan. That is one massive treehouse! I like all of the playful elements (like the rope bridges, fireman’s pole and trap doors) that invite kids to enjoy the treehouse as much as I am sure the adults do.
There are so many different and incredible features that you have added to your treehouse projects in the past, like a brewery and a spa. Is there anything you’d love to try and accomplish that you haven’t already?
Nothing comes immediately to mind. No matter what someone suggests, in most cases, we’re excited to try it!
You’ve branched out (no pun intended) and have released some books, apparel, and equipment. What can your fans look forward to from you next?
The project that I am most excited about is about the future Treehouse Resort and Spa. I found the most perfect piece of property in the heart of wine haven: Woodinville, Washington. We are still in the preliminary/permitting phases but the idea is 20+ treehouses in a tranquil, Pacific Northwest forest where people can sip wine, get a massage, listen to great music and enjoy nature. We have had so much fun hosting treehouse-lovers from all over the world at our bed-and-breakfast, Treehouse Point, that we decided to make another destination for people to sleep in a tree!
Thank you so much to Pete Nelson for taking the time to answer some questions for us! We really appreciate it!
Keep up to date with Pete by following him on Twitter (@TheTreehouseMan) and be sure to tune in to Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet Fridays at 10/9c.