The Knockturnal had the opportunity to sit down with “Treehouse Masters'” Pete Nelson to talk about his upcoming Dove Men+Care treehouse, Brian Kelley’s treehouse recording studio and his future plans for his bed and breakfast company.
A treehouse is every kid’s dream. They’re secretive, cozy and most importantly, surrounded by nature. They are in every kid’s mind, a sanctuary from the oppressive adults that rule their world. It is in the treehouse that friendships are solidified, rules are broken, and clubhouse etiquette rules all. And for economist-turned-carpenter Pete Nelson, that childhood dream has turned into a career reality.
For nearly 30 years, Pete Nelson has been building elaborate, elegant and adult-oriented treehouses. One can find all the amenities that any normal home would typically have, including a working bathroom and in the case of Brian Kelley’s treehouse, even a recording studio. His work has led him to be the host of “Treehouse Masters,” an Animal Planet show that documents the treehouse building process for prospective customers. And with the rise of tiny houses and minimalist living styles, Nelson’s work has never been as appreciated as it is today. Nelson is now collaborating with Dove Men+Care to build a customized treehouse that exudes the qualities of their new Elements line.
Check out our interview below:
Riyad Mammadyarov – You’ve teamed up with Dove Men+Care to help launch their new Elements line. How did you get involved with the project?
Pete Nelson – It’s kind of fun because I get phone calls quite often now with the success of the “Treehouse Masters” television show. My daughter, Emily–who is 26 and is essentially my boss these days–she called very excitedly to say that Dove Men+Care has kicked off a new campaign and they want me to design a treehouse around this new product line. I immediately thought about this experience I had recently. I’ve gotten into these Japanese bath houses and their bathing culture. Emily brought this to me and I thought, “This is perfect, imagine a treehouse where you can actually build it around presumably a shower and a really strong bathroom so that you can have a highly unique bathing experience. And to share it too because the idea here is that we’re going to end up asking the public to sign up and have a one-of-a-kind stay in the new treehouse.
Riyad Mammadyarov – Your designs can hardly even be called a treehouse. They’re so elegant and nice. What are some of your most standout designs other than this Elements line?
Pete Nelson – The fun part is that we’ve had some bathrooms incorporated into treehouses, mainly for the functionality of it all. We’re really driving home all these natural elements. For instance we have the minerals and sage design. We’re coming up with thoughts on maybe a live wall that includes sage and some of those beautiful sage green colors to decorate the inside. We also have the charcoal/clay idea. There’s a technique that the Japanese have been using for millennia called Sochiban where you actually char wood and give it that antique, weathered feel. So this is something that as a carpenter I get very excited about. In the interior, we can do some Sochiban. The sandalwood element is a neat one too. That’s an obvious countertop somewhere. But what’s amazing is how this newfound idea of combining Asian bathing culture with Dove Men+Care has come into my focus recently. It’s pretty fun to get as excited as I do about something like a commercial venture.
Riyad Mammadyarov – You’re known for designing treehouses for celebrities. What are some of the most memorable features that someone asked to have included in their treehouse?
Pete Nelson – One of my favorite building experiences was with Brian Kelley, who’s part of Florida Georgia Line. We did his treehouse a few summers ago and his is a true working treehouse where he’s got his recording studio on the main floor. It’s a pretty extravagant treehouse with an amazing bridge to get from his main residency to the treehouse itself. I think one of my favorite parts of that was the very simply recording room. It wasn’t a whole lot bigger than a small closet but we outfitted it with all the latest sound insulating technology. I think the exciting part there is that a treehouse and music go together really well and to think that he’s in there recording his next hit–I mean he’s actually been doing that. We’re texting buddies [laughs]. He gets inspiration from the space and to think that just simple little room is being used to make hits is amazing.
Riyad Mammadyarov – You run your own bed and breakfast outside of Seattle named Treehouse Point. Do you see yourself expanding that to more locations across the states?
Pete Nelson – The plan is that Chattanooga, Tennessee will be the place where we build the Dove Men+Care Elements treehouse. We’re working on the plans right now and hopefully we can get it up here late spring so that it’s available to the public. If you want more information you can visit DoveMenCare.com/
Riyad Mammadyarov – I love Rhinebeck. It’s a beautiful place. The Catskills sounds like a great location for something like this.
Pete Nelson – I think it’s the perfect spot. I’ve always had big dreams and they always tend to come true so it might be a few years but look for us up there someday.
Riyad Mammadyarov – You’ve made treehouses something so much bigger than what you fantasized about as a kid. You’ve made it extremely accessible and approachable for adults. What made you fall in love with treehouses and decide to build them as an adult?
Pete Nelson – It’s an obsession for sure. It’s something I’ve always loved and I remember as a 12, 13, 14-year-old fantasizing about the kinds of treehouses that I am building now but back then I obviously didn’t have the skills to make that all happen. My parents are the type that said, “you can do anything that you set your heart to.” I took that at face value. When I was trying to figure out what to do with my life after a good education in economics I thought, “I was hanging around with enough smart people in economics class to know that they would probably eat my lunch” [laughs]. So I had to figure out what to do that I was passionate about and that I loved and that I have an aptitude for. And that was building. It always was. I was a constant fort-builder in New Jersey, where I grew up. If there was a way to take that and turn it into a real living then that’s what I wanted to do. It took a long time. I’ve written six coffee table style books and a few how-to’s. This was my method to get the word out for many years. Then when the show came along, it amplified everything so Treehouse Masters has been a real blessing for us and our whole crew. We’re 33 carpenters and five people that work in the office that are now employed by these crazy wonderful dreams. And we want to keep that going and share with the world what is a really viable form of architecture. No matter how you slice, treehouses are everything that you think they might be, magically speaking. They’re transformative so to get a chance to team up with a big company like Dove and show-off our work and combine it with their Elements range is amazing. It seems like a perfect match. We’re thrilled to be able to do it.
Visit Dovemancare.com/elementstreehouse to find out more about staying at the new Elements treehouse in Chattanooga, TN.