- Associated Press - Sunday, August 10, 2014

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - When Dr. Lisa Hodges wants a little retreat with her cup of coffee early in the morning, she steps outside her Pierremont area home and slips through her lush garden to a retreat: a two-story treehouse.

It is built around a 6-foot circumference pine in the middle of her expansive garden.

Up she goes. Up two sets of stairs and two landings, Hodges then opens a vintage-inspired screen door and vanishes inside the tiny, quaint space on the first level. She sits down in her multiple pattern armchair with its matching ottoman.

She places her coffee down next to the table built to surround the tree.

“With my book,” Hodges said of her morning devotional aid.

“I like the solitude. It is a very special place,” Hodges added.

But the treehouse isn’t for adults only. Her children, Josie, 12, and Daniel, 9, use it, too.

In the morning Hodges finds peace there all by herself.

Neighbor Chris Hutchison, who also has a treehouse in her yard, saw it going up through the trees and chatted with Hodges about it.

“She was so excited,” Hutchison remembered. “We also have a treehouse, but not as elaborate as hers. It is magical.”

It’s air-conditioned, too, she notes.

When Hodges began yearning for a treehouse two years ago, she turned to partner Scott Payne, owner of Payne’s Custom Renovations. He deals in renovations, additions and commercial work, but never built a treehouse.

Lack of experience didn’t stop him on a quest for Hodges’ special structure.

“I would love to do this,” he told her.

So, he did.

Although Payne and Hodges took a look at treehouse guru Peter Nelson’s books and online contributions and later sought advice about a leak, Payne did the design and construction himself.

It is classic cottage/bungalow style - although up in the air rather than on solid ground - painted sage green with cream trim and avocado green shutters. A similar green hue is carried out on the beadboard walls inside.

There are two floors.

The first combines a sitting area with a flat-screen television at one end and kitchen area in the other.

The upstairs loft is not as spacious, but easily holds two sets of bunk beds.

Payne points out that when kids are in the loft, adults install a “floor” in the open space so there is no danger of falling through the access space to the next level.

Additional electricity is necessary for the air conditioning, lights lamps, microwave and refrigerator.

And, yes, there is a bathroom - a camp one.

And plenty of windows for a bird’s-eye view of the garden and the family home.

Although only a few steps from Hodges’ house, which was once the parsonage for First Baptist Church of Shreveport, the treehouse fits into its upscale environment. You cannot see it from the street or the wide open backyard unless you realize it is there. In other words, it doesn’t scream “treehouse;” it is not the yard’s focal point. It just sits there among pines surrounded on the ground by fig trees, a cherry laurel, a pecan and a cottage garden and a bed of ivy.

That is one thing Hutchison admires about its construction. “You can’t see it,” she said.

So how do you go about furnishing a treehouse?

“We wanted to make it fun and whimsical. We scaled it down to almost child size,” said Mrs. McGregor’s Garden decorator Amy Lamb.

“She used a lot of neat things. She likes an eclectic look,” said Lamb about Hodges.

“We pulled a lot of things from her house, but Lisa shops in a lot of places,” said Lamb, who also helps Hodges with her home and yard decor.

They planned the interior, using things she picked up at Goodwill, Canton, Texas, First Monday, family pieces and McGregor’s.

Shopping venues that intrigue her include First Monday, where Hodges picked up Shabby Chic-inspired small robin’s egg blue drop-leaf tables and a peeling paint wooden farm chair for the kitchen area. Small in scale, the furniture trio was a perfect fit.

A look at the inside that combines funky with functionality:

-First floor. Step through the screen door into a small room centered with a tree trunk surrounded by a simple wooden table, built especially for the space by Payne. He was careful to leave room for the tree to grow.

-The colorful decor is a combination of funky and shabby chic treehouse-size furnishings and accessories that meld well together. A love of birds is reflected in pillows, small tables and blue eggs in a metal birdhouse enclosure and a rendering of a blue bunting. A tree-of-life painting adds color to the walls, and two pressed-tin ceiling tiles help define space.

-A whimsical garden scene is placed over the television sitting on a structure Hodges picked up at Goodwill and painted LSU purple, while a mauve armoire used for storage is a family piece. Art includes what Hodges calls “A garden fairy” garlanded with Mardi Gras-hued twinkle lights. Bird-themed pictures by her children add to the ambiance and provides a personal touch. For fun: A Victorian-inspired small lamp with threadlike fringe on a tiny table.

For a bird’s-eye view of life, Hodges and her children have to go no further than their backyard.

There sits a treehouse.


Information from: The Times, https://www.shreveporttimes.com

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