Presented by the National Association of Landscape Professionals in partnership with Houzz 

Becky Harris

While any sort of platform in a tree or a cardboard box clubhouse will make a kid happy, it is a great bonus if this permanent structure is visually appealing for adults. Even better if it's a place we like to escape to from time to time.

With the latest in kiddo fort designs, children get the benefits of climbing walls, fire poles and suspended bridges, while the grown-ups get to gaze out on little structures that look like an architect's model or a Mondrian cube. Who knows, after the kids grow up, maybe the adults will take these over as offices, potting sheds, studios or money-making rentals. Here's a peek at 12 favorites.


Photo by 


Sometimes I think designing and building tree houses brings architects back to their woodshop days in architecture school. This fabulous fort looks like an architectural model to me, with thoughtful overhangs to mitigate direct sunlight and an assemblage of reclaimed wood. It also looks like a lot of fun with its ropes and ladders, which is the point after all.


Photo by Aitken and Associates


This floral fort wins the Best Use of an Old Tree Stump award. While I wouldn't recommend this wisteria-draped getaway for anyone allergic to any kind of stings, it could be a great place in which to perform scenes from Romeo and Juliet or Cyrano de Bergerac.


Photo by Verner Architects


This slatted elevated fort is fun to climb up to, hang out in and descend from, while its contemporary architecture is far from the eyesore most tree houses are for Mom and Dad.


Photo by Keith Willig Landscape Services, Inc.


This fort makes the most of the yard’s change in elevation. From the front one sees the tempting fun of the nets and fire pole, while around back there’s a pole, a slide and a swing set.


By Bjon Pankratz Franklin


The ordered yet ramshackle style of this two-story fort gives it architectural interest while still attracting children. Its mix of materials is very Austin, Texas, keepin' it hip and weird.
When it's lit up at night, you can see how the house was built right around a tree.


Photo by debtex


This is another of those easy-on-the-eyes structures. The tall, Jenga-like tower has peekaboo slats as well as its own deck and roof deck (complete with sail shade).

In addition there is a climbing wall option up the side, as well as a balcony.


Photo by Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc.


This cool little cube is certainly easy on a modern art fan's eyes and can even serve as a sculpture in the backyard.

It has a great playspace inside that includes a chalkboard wall, bookshelves, a window seat and even a peekaboo clear panel in the floor that can sit atop a koi pond.


Photo by Hugh Lofting Timber Framing, Inc.


A suspended bridge is now the latest craze in backyard forts and tree houses. Maybe it's because of the rising popularity of Costa Rica as a vacation destination? I am not sure what brought this on, but it is in all the cool backyards right now.
Another loft inside provides a fort within a fort.


More from Houzz

Add a Ladder to Reach the High Treetops

Professional Advice for Building Your Own Backyard Treehouse

Hire a Skilled Architect to Get Your Treehouse Construction Started

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