Repurposed Ship Materials and 100-Year-Old Beams Make Up This Tree House-Like Home

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By Zillow / Published by Dwell
With five-story water views and accents from a salvaged ship, this home has served as inspiration for an acclaimed architect.

When Oscar-winner-turned-environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio opens his new eco-friendly resort on an island in Belize next year, some of the planning will have happened on a different island, roughly 3,200 miles away. 

It’s on Bainbridge Island, just outside Seattle, where the resort’s architect lived in a five-story home he calls his "tree house tower." 

Follow Zillow as they give us a tour of this extraordinary home.

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"It spoke to me. It’s really connected to the environment around it," said homeowner Jason McLennan. "It has great views, great light and it has all these different levels. You can really find a space that fits your mood."

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While McLennan is remaining mum on the project with Leo, he will gladly gush about the three-bedroom, four-bathroom house, along with the surrounding lush, green landscape.

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Surrounded by 200-foot-tall cedars and other trees, the home uses reclaimed wood as its base. It was built in 1978 by a different architect, who salvaged four, immense wooden posts to anchor the living space.

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McLennan believes that the beams are old-growth Douglas fir and date back more than 100 years, to the turn of the previous century. 

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The builders rescued other touches from an old ship, in a nod to the local maritime industry. Some of the windows are ship portholes, while the doorknobs are repurposed brass handles saved from an old sailing vessel.

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The ground floor has an airy living space that leads to an outdoor pond, while the second level holds the main entryway and living room.

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A 12-foot-long antique leaded glass window anchors the nearby kitchen, while adjacent doors open up to a patio that offers views of Puget Sound.

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One floor up, large sliding barn doors conceal a master bedroom and private sun room.

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The fourth and fifth floors each contain bedrooms, although in recent years, McLennan used the top floor as his home office, writing a number of books and designing buildings there.

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Looking out the window from his fifth-floor office, McLennan said he found some of his deepest inspiration, drawing from the views of passing ferries or the verdant, tree-lined landscape.

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"It’s just nature’s paradise," he said. "Everything is nestled in the trees, so the trees are intact and the ecosystem is intact. You do feel like you’re in a special place when you’re there."

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The home recently sold for $875,000. Leah Applewhite of Sotheby’s International Realty carried the listing

Photos by Erik Hecht. Set decoration provided by Lily Karsten. Plants provided by Bainbridge Botanicals. Written by Lindsay Cohen for Zillow.