Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tree houses style & design

Tree house design idea !

Tree houses are for everyone with imagination. Elevate your building skills with these tree house building tips from experienced builders, including attachment techniques, site choice, assembly techniques, design ideas and more.

    Overview: The inspiration of tree houses
    Building Tip 1: Site considerations
    Building Tip 2: Keep weight and stability in mind
    Building Tip 3: Don’t Restrict Tree Growth
    Building Tip 4: Level the floor
    Building Tip 5: Build sections on the ground and hoist them into position
    Building Tip 6: Use the right fasteners
    Building Tip 7: Checklist of cool accessories (to buy or make)
    Building Tip 8: Beware of the dark side of tree houses

Overview: The inspiration of tree houses

Climbing trees has always been part of human history, allowing us to escape floods, saber-toothed tigers and intruders (especially parents with chores in mind). Building tree houses has long been part of human history, too. In that spirit, we’ve gathered tree house building tips, project ideas and photos from readers and professional tree house builders. Maybe something here will inspire you to build the tree house of your dreams, for the special kids in your life or as a way to escape from modern day saber-toothed tigers and chore-requesting spouses. Enjoy!

“You get a different perspective when you’re up in a tree. First of all, nobody can find you because nobody ever looks up. And when you’re up there, you’re able to look up, down and all around—it’s another world up there.” Michael Garnier, professional tree house builder 

Building Tip 1: Site considerations
Choose a healthy, long-lived hardwood for maximum support, with load-bearing branches at least 8 in. in diameter (larger if the species is a softwood).

The best trees include maple, oak, fir, beech and hemlock.
You don’t have to build it very high, just high enough so nobody gets a bump on the head when walking underneath it. 

Building Tip 2: Keep weight and stability in mind
Build the platform as close to the trunk as possible and add diagonal bracing for extra strength to support uneven loads.

Put the load over the base of the tree, not on one side.
For heavy tree houses, consider spreading the weight among several trees.
A tree house will act as a sail in strong winds, which can add a large load to the tree’s roots. In high-wind areas, build your tree house in the lower third of the tree.

“I built a tree house for my kids in our backyard (Photo). It was tricky getting the roof in place and, of course, nothing is square. They drew the wall design on regular paper, and we transferred the pictures to the walls, using a grid method. We replace the old pictures with new ones each year.” Sean Milroy

Building Tip 3: Don’t Restrict Tree Growth

Leave gaps around the tree

To accommodate tree movement and growth, allow gaps around any branches or trunks that penetrate the tree house.
Photo courtesy of Craig MacLean
Don’t constrict branches with rope, straps or wire. This can strangle the tree.
Add spacers between the beams and the tree to allow movement.
Use extra-long large bolts. This leaves most of the shaft exposed so you can mount items on the ends and lets the tree grow over the shaft (see “Use the Right Fasteners,” Tip 6, below).
Allow a 2-in. gap around the tree if it passes through the floor and a 3-in. gap if it passes through the roof (photo).

Building Tip 4:
Level the floor

To keep a large tree house stable, center the load over the trunk and spread the weight among several branches.
It’s much easier to build the rest of the structure if the floor is level and can support the entire weight of the tree house. Consider these methods:
  • Lay beams across the branches and shim until level.
  • Run the beams between trunks of different trees.
  • Cantilever the beams out from a single trunk and support them from above or below.
“I wanted my kids to experience the same fun I had in my tree house as a kid but without the risk of killing themselves—like I nearly did.” Brenton LaFleur

Building Tip 5:
Build sections on the ground and hoist them into position

It's easier and safer to fabricate the main sections on the ground and then hoist them into position.
From one tree house builder:
“I built it in my driveway and used a friend’s backhoe to lift it up on the joists I’d hung in the trees (Photo 1). The morning of ‘the big lift’ was quite exciting. We served bagels and coffee in the driveway for people who came to watch.”
Mike Whitaker

And from another: “I assembled the platform and house on the ground, then disassembled them. After attaching the supports to the trees, I lifted the platform piece by piece and assembled it on the supports (Photo 2). An extra set of hands was needed only to raise the four walls and two roof sections. Final assembly took place in the trees.”
Bob Lackey

Building Tip 6: Use the right fasteners

Floating bracket support

Allow for flexible supports, especially if you use more than one tree, so that trees can move in the wind. Special floating brackets allow the tree to sway.
Photo courtesy of Michael Garner

Don’t run bolts through the tree. Lag bolts cause less tree damage than through bolts.
Don’t use too many fasteners. One large bolt is better than many screws or nails. You get the same strength but with fewer puncture wounds to the tree.
Whenever possible, perch your tree house on top of fasteners rather than pinning beams to the tree. This gives the tree room to move and grow.

Even for smaller, lighter tree houses where the load is spread over three or four attachment points, consider using 1-in.- or 1-1/4-in.-diameter lag bolts.You can order floating brackets and tree house fasteners from specialty suppliers such as or or special-order them from home centers (Photos). These bolts are pricey (about $100 each) and often require special tools. But they allow the tree more room to grow (they can support heavy loads up to 5 in. from the tree) and they hold more weight than normal bolts.

Building Tip 7: Checklist of cool accessories (to buy or make)
Zip lines
Rope swings, ladders and bridges
Speaking tube
Clothesline pulley with bucket between tree house and kitchen for frequent snacks (or to lower to the ground to fetch provisions)
Pirates’ treasure chest
Tennis ball/potato launcher
Water cannon
Fire pole or slide
Trap door
Solar-powered lights or lanterns
Fold-down benches and tables 

Best Sellers & Special Price Products  at

Building Tip 8: Beware of the dark side of tree houses
Building a tree house is a wonderfully whimsical and romantic idea. But it’s important to go into it with your eyes open. Keep the following issues in mind: 

Tree damage !
Tree houses do damage trees. Foot traffic compresses the soil, which is bad for the roots. Adding weight in the branches can also stress the tree roots, and fasteners can cause infection. Most trees will survive this abuse, but think twice before you build in a treasured tree.
To minimize tree damage:
  • Consider using one or two supports to take stress off the tree.
  • Make the fewest punctures necessary to support the tree house safely. Any damage to the bark of the tree is a potential entry point for disease and bacteria.
  • Don’t put fasteners too close together, which can weaken that section of the tree. Use at least 3/4-in. bolts spaced at least 18 in. apart vertically and 12 in. apart horizontally.
  • Avoid slinging cables and ropes over branches. They cut through the bark as the structure moves.

Neighborhood concerns and municipal regulations
Do you need a building permit? It depends on local laws and the nature of your tree house. If you’re considering building one that will be visible to your neighbors, discuss it with them in advance to avoid problems. Often, a municipality becomes involved after a neighbor complains. Stay away from boundary lines and don’t build your tree house where it will infringe on a neighbor’s privacy.

More concerns
Kids can get hurt playing in a tree house. Don’t build higher than 8 ft. and make sure to build safe, strong rails. Also, nobody should be in a tree house in high winds or lightning.

Have fun !

Monday, April 15, 2013

Greek Home Style

Inspiration of Greek home style
The brief history of Greece is compiled here as an introduction to web readers and to provide the historical background that’s needed to appreciate all the subjects of Ancient Greek culture. It was no easy task to compress the history of Ancient Greece into a concise format that would be appropriate both for online reading and as a precise overview of the subject. This history is divided into the major Greek history eras:

How to Create a Greek-Style Patio Area
A balcony or a patio is part of every Greek style home. Especially if you live in a warm climate, you can easily achieve this peaceful and sun-loving look inspired by the beautiful Mediterranean decor.

1. White and cracked walls
Give your patio an authentic Mediterranean look with white and cracked walls. Brick or adobe walls, but also tiles imitating brick patterns are good choices. A good tip to get the cracked effect common to the Mediterranean decor is to sandpapering your walls. You can also mix fine cement and fine sand onto your walls to create a dry impression. Don’t forget that a Greek style patio will work better in a hot area where the sun can naturally bleach your walls!

2. Mediterranean plants in terracotta pots
A Greek style patio area would not be complete without Mediterranean plants in terracotta pots such as lavender, thyme, rosemary, oleander and geraniums placed on a bed of pea gravel. These plants will also keep your patio cool, but don’t overcrowd them. If you are lucky enough to have a yard, don’t hesitate to extend your Mediterranean decor style with olive or citrus trees, for example.

3. Rustic and iron furniture & accessories
Greeks and the Mediterranean in general love to have guests and to eat in an outdoor dining area such as the patio. Opt for strong and rustic furniture made from cast iron or wood. For example, a nice way to add a greek decoration touch to your patio is to choose a table with a mosaic top and wrought-iron cafe-style chairs. Don’t forget to also place a little glass-topped table perfect to put on mezze (a selection of small dishes). Add a Mediterranean decor look to your patio as well with accessories like robust iron candle holders.

History of Greece: Classical Greece

The flurry of development and expansion of the Archaic Era was followed by the period of maturity we came to know as “Classical Greece”. Between 480 and until 323 BCE Athens and Sparta dominated the Hellenic world with their cultural and military achievements. These two cities, with the involvement of the other Hellenic states, rose to power through alliances, reforms, and a series of victories against the invading Persian armies. They eventually resolved their rivalry in a long, and particularly nasty war that concluded with the demise of Athens first, Sparta second, and the emergence of Macedonia as the dominant power of Greece. Other city-states like Miletus, Thebes, Corinth, and Syracuse among many others played a major role in the cultural achievements of Classical Greece.

The first inhabitants of the Greek peninsula, who are believed to be Neolithic, built very primitive and basic structures. The houses were mainly built with a circular, oval, apsidal, or rectangular shape. The rectangular house was mostly square, but some were oblong, and had the entrance at one of the short ends. They used mud bricks and stones in the mud with reeds or brush to help build the house. Most of the houses had one room, there were very rarely two.

The next group of settlers were the Minoan architects. Their towns were mostly residential with little or no temples and public places. Unlike earlier people, their houses were private and had many rooms. However, to separate rooms, they would use only pillars. Thus, the house was very open. The stairways were a very prominent feature for these massive homes. This began a whole new era for the Greeks dealing with architecture.

During the Classical Greek architecture period, it was made up of three different orders that are most commonly seen in their temples. These three orders were the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The orders are also known for their columns style. The Corinthian order was not used as widely as the Doric of Ionic. The reason being, is that the Corinthian order was fancier than the others, and had a lot more detail. Thus, information dealing with this order is very little, and some is not worth putting up.

The most basic order for their temples would be the Doric order. Doric architecture was known for being used by the Spartans. It all starts with some wood shafts, which latter was replaced by stone. On the top of the shaft, were circular pads with a square block of wood over it. The vertical columns were used to support the beams called architraves. In order to form the ceiling, other beams were laid across the building with their ends on these architraves. On the end of these beams, they could be channeled to make a triglyph. On the top of a triglyph there would be another beam which would be placed for the overhanging rafters. These type of beams were referred as to a mutules.

The finishing touches for the roof had to have a flat gables called pediments. The gutter ran along the top of the pediments and ended at a lion's mouth. This acted like a drain. The materials that were used for the roofs were thatch and the terra-cotta and marble. The of Doric temples were similar to those of the Ionic order in lay out and design.