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Baltimore Tree House

The wooden structure next to Laurie and Peter Stubbs' house outside Baltimore is made out of trees and is nestled in the woods but it isn't technically a tree house. "The trees here are basically poles with very high branches--90 feet high!--so there was no way we were going to be building in the trees," Laurie says. "We've been trying to think of a non-tree house name--the Fort, Tree Fort, Bamboo Fort--but nothing's really stuck." Plus, it's not just for Stubb's children, daughters Abigail, 9, and Emily, 13. "Kids are small for a very short time and then they grow up and go to college and you're left with this structure," she says. "We wanted it to have a use after they're gone--a place we can sit in and read or have a drink and entertain company."

Stubb and her family moved to their home, located on 2.25 acres just north of Baltimore, in 2001. "The outdoors here are a big playground," she says. "We had always wanted to build something for the girls that looked natural." In the summer of 2008, they finally materialized their wish with the 128-square-foot "tree house" that they designed themselves. Drafting the plans came naturally: Laurie is the principal of Place Architecture, Inc. and her husband, Peter, is an architect at a firm that focuses on institutional projects.

Photograph courtesy of Laurie Stubb.

The tree house, for lack of a better name, comprises two eight-foot-by-eight-foot platforms that create two floors. The lower one is accessed by a ramp and the upper one by a wooden ladder. The structure is screened with bamboo shoots, placed in close proximity to one another on the front and spaced wider and wider apart as they wrap around the sides to the back. "The idea was to screen the view of the driveway in the front," Stubb says, "but when you're inside, you don't want to feel like you're in a box. You want to feel like you're in the woods and see out."

To see more images of the tree house and read more about its design and use, please visit our slideshow.

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