There are many ways to connect with your inner child.
But perhaps none can compare with the pure, unadulterated joy experienced when you drift back to less-stressful times when dreams were constant and life was all about having fun.
Two brothers, Andy and Simon Payne, tapped into that feeling in a big way, when they decided to let their imaginations run wild, creating a renowned tree house design and construction empire along the way.
Theirs was no one-off venture – they now, in fact, offer a variety of inspired and luxurious options, featuring everything from fairy-tale towers to spas to living spaces connected by rope bridges high up in trees. And their UK-based company, Blue Forest, has built hundreds of tree houses which mesh with their immediate environment, all utilizing sustainable materials such as timber.
Born in Kenya, the brothers grew up in the English countryside near Sussex, where they followed through on their vision to start a tree house business – realizing the potential after volunteering for a conservation project in their African homeland.
They came up with the name Blue Forest – named after the blue-hued pine forests in Japan’s mountainous Aomori region – and initially began creating tree houses of all shapes and sizes, including a traditional child’s house and party venues for adults and teens.
From that basic beginning, however, Blue Forest has grown. Today, it’s arguably the world’s most prominent tree house company.
“We have been able to fulfill clients’ dreams for unique and exciting tree houses,” says Blue Forest spokesperson Shar Maytum. “We are known for our sustainable practices and structures that which reflect their natural setting.”
Blue Forest works hand in hand with the world’s largest forest certification system, the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), as well as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), to ensure that all the wood used comes from sustainably-managed land. They determine where the original trees were grown, when they were cut down and how many trees were planted to replace the harvested ones.
“Our structures are built using a variety of natural construction materials, including timber which is FSC/PEFC-certified or sourced from sustainably-managed forests,” explains Maytum. “There is an active strategy of replanting and habitat regeneration, enabling them to blend in seamlessly with the beautiful natural environment in which they are situated.”
At the same time, Blue Forest encourages clients to build with high levels of insulation and incorporate renewable energy whenever possible. Achieving off-the-grid capacity is not always easy, but Blue Forest believes that the elements that make the tree houses most sustainable are not always difficult to achieve.
For example, Maytum says that simply insulating the building really well, and using such natural resources as the sun and wind for heating and cooling, plus incorporating low-energy lighting, combine to go a long way towards achieving an off-the-grid goal.
There are many ways Blue Forest helps clients achieve their sustainable goals. Homes are built around trees and utilize hybrid designs so that the weight of the structure is supported by posts and anchored by trees. There are also fully arboreal houses built right in the middle of long-living, deep-rooted trees.
The company designs also cater to client whims. Say a client prefers hardwood to softwood. Blue Forest can provide a more expensive sustainable alternative called Kebony, which uses a bio-based liquid to permanently enhance sustainable softwood, giving it a dark brown finish with premium hardwood features.
Across the board, however, Blue Forest finds that its clients all want to reconnect with nature in some way. And it’s that love of nature that makes sustainability a top priority.
It’s definitely a lifestyle choice, one more and more people are gravitating towards, says Maytum.
“Being built in and around the trees in their natural environment … there is no better place to live than in a tree house,” she says.
Web / blueforest.com
Blue Forest’s primary expertise is in building luxury tree houses but the company has designed and built everything from tree house hotels to woodland playgrounds, tree house classrooms, canopy walkways and eco lodges. Blue Forest provides a turnkey solution, with everything from design and planning to construction and commissioning comes in one package. Blue Forest mainly operates in the UK and Europe but has participated in a number of other projects around the world. The company also offers design or architectural consultancy service for customers further afield.