Remember the type of treehouse you dreamed about building as a kid? It would be tucked deep in the woods where no one could find it, unless they were invited. Tree branches would flirt with the walls and the shadows of leaves would dance across the rafters. And it wouldn’t be square or rectangular, either. No, it would have a more interesting shape.
For an Anderson Township couple, that dream is real. Their octagon-shaped house even came in a kit, much like building blocks or Legos.
Built in 1968, the home sits on a 2.9-acre lot so private that one doesn’t “accidentally” end up here, at the bottom of a long, winding driveway, located off another private drive. The busy professionals fell in love with this uncommon plot of tranquility located just a short commute from their Mount Auburn jobs, and bought the home in 1994.
But the octagon-shaped living space had its flaws. Perched atop a concrete pedestal, it totaled just 850 square feet. To do a load of laundry, the couple had to go outside and downstairs to reach the ground-level utility room. So two years later, the couple added a wing off one side of the octagon and gave the home an enclosed first-floor entry that incorporates the utility space.
At the time, they drafted plans for an overhaul and expansion of the octagon itself, but it was just too much to tackle—especially since they planned to stay put during the construction. Their dream, in its entirety, wouldn’t be realized until 2016, when the couple revisited their plans. Having lived in the home for 20 years, they knew exactly what they wanted. Through an eight-month remodel, the octagon now revolves around the kitchen, the views and the couple’s casual style.
A much larger kitchen
Like the hub of a wheel, the kitchen sits at the center of the octagon and its panoramic view, which includes a small creek that empties into the Little Miami River.
To allow the kitchen to double in size, kitchen designer Karen Bieszczak shrunk a full bath into a powder room—allotting three feet more clearance. An L-shaped peninsula, where the couple eats most meals, now opens toward an intimate dining table and a wet bar where guests can refill their drinks without venturing into the cooking area.
Like any well-executed treehouse, this home is part of its environment, visually and physically. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow sunlight and shade to create ever-changing artwork on every surface. A screened porch extends the living space further into the treetops while an open deck connects the home to a pond, shared with two other properties. On the ground level, steps now access the creek.
Blue Fusion granite countertops and other interior finishes likewise mimic the earthy tones and materials outdoors, although all the trim work was painted white for a fresh, open feel.
The simple lines of the Shaker-style cabinetry and dining table reflect the couple’s modern-infused arts-and-crafts aesthetic and connect the home’s rustic and contemporary touches.
Designed with dogs in mind
Every treehouse worth its timber is a dog-friendly destination, and this one is home to two Vizslas. So the entire home is tiled to make for easy cleaning. African slate covers the first-floor entry while less-fragile porcelain—laid over cozy radiant heat flooring—replicates the look in the kitchen and dining area.
Many of the characteristics that make this home intriguing also made the remodel challenging. To support the 2.5 tons of porcelain tile, this house in the trees required a bit more than branches. So steel I-beams were added beneath the entire structure like spokes on a wheel. The vaulted ceiling and its radial beam work are a defining feature, but the airiness made it difficult to find stylish, functional lighting. So Switch Lighting and Design created a rail system that suspends lights over the island and dining table. And within the window-filled octagon, the open pass-through floor plan meant that spaces like the cooking area could be viewed from numerous angles—for better or worse—and required careful calculation.
“There was a lot of re-measuring required due to all of the angles,” Bieszczak says, but she was more than ready to tackle this unique project, which she originally designed for the couple in 1996. “It’s amazing that 90 percent of the design is the same as it was when we worked together 20 years ago.”
Resources: Kitchen designer: Karen Bieszczak, CKD, Bzak Design Group, LLC.; Contractor: Keffer Construction Services; Cabinetry: Custom cherry, Bzak Design Group, LLC.; Appliances: Bosch dishwasher and oven, Thermador cooktop, Electrolux refrigerator and Perlick bar refrigerator, all from The Appliance Loft; Flooring and backsplash tile: Louisville Tile; Countertops Blue Fusion granite in kitchen, Tambora Tide in bar and powder room with Jazz Glass from Artistic Tile on the backsplash; Tilesetter: Chris Schoenburg; Countertop fabricator: Stone Design; Sinks: Franke and Native Trails; Faucets: Brizo and Delta, Ferguson Enterprises; Lighting: Switch Lighting and Design; Rain glass: Russ’s Glass; Windows: Hyde Park Lumber