Lifestyles: Out on a limb
Two books in this month’s column are about practicality in shelter, more or less, so by way of healthy contrast I first offer you a luscious tome of structures that are more like fantasies come to life. My 8-year-old daughter spied Dream Treehouses on the coffee table and asked, “Are these real ?” Yes, dear, amazingly they are. The 40 treehouses pictured here in full-color photographs and watercolor design drawings are situated in all corners of the globe and are typically 50 to 65 feet above ground. They’re also incredible feats of engineering by the French design company La Cabane Perchée: Great care is given to protect the health of the tree into which each house is built—no nails are used, no branches are cut. As fascinating as the exteriors of these treehouses are, the interior details, which reveal thoughtful use of space and multipurpose furnishings, are just as impressive. Some of these are for children, but more are designed for use by adults, and all will give you—assuming you are a lover of trees and the outdoors—a sense of beautiful possibility for a dream (backyard?) getaway.
Timber framing—a type of post-and-beam construction—may seem like a specialized skill, but as Will Beemer illustrates in Learn to Timber Frame, it’s not out of reach for the average person. Beemer is a founding member of the Timber Framers Guild, and with his wife he runs the Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts in Washington, Massachusetts. In this book, he carefully explains the layout systems, tools, cutting procedures and foundation and enclosure systems required to build a timber frame structure. Detailed plans for a 12-by-16-foot building, with instructions for making the frame bigger, smaller or with other variations such as a loft are also included. Through timber framing, Beemer aims “to empower our hands, to train our eyes for quality and beauty in the design of things, and to explore the ways we might live in a more honest relationship with our planet.”
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
Anyone else out there feel overwhelmed by the vast options in home design and decor? As my husband and I begin the long-awaited process of adding on to our bungalow, I somehow don’t think an occasional peek at Pinterest is going to suffice. To the rescue comes Home Decor Cheat Sheets, a simple visual guide to furnishings and interior elements such as types of doors, windows, blinds and beyond. This is an incredibly quick and informative study: In an hour or so you can go from having no idea what a cabriole is to being conversant in the styles of everything from sofas to lamps to cabinet knobs and nails. You’ll learn the best ways to hang art, position and size a rug and light a bathroom; you’ll understand how to create layers of light and master proportion and scale. Decisions will still have to be made, and there’s that pesky matter of a budget—but a visit with this slim and practical volume should be an incredible step up in the game.