Samantha and I have traveled the pacific North-West and beyond documenting small, unique spaces the likes of yurts, fire lookouts, rustic cabins and tiny houses, the latter of which we even built and lived in ourselves so when we discovered a gentleman building a one of a kind structure he called the ‘tree-frame’ in Washington state we knew we had to experience it.
This brand new Pacific North-West cabin has been elevated to another level, literally, nestled between and supported by the tall evergreens along the North Fork of the Skykomish river of Index, WA. Precariously perched 13’ off the forest floor, this modern A-frame offers guests an uninhibited private forest vista through its wall of glass and four giant sky lights while fulfilling that childhood love of treehouses that never truly dissipates with age.
That gentleman’s name is Nick, and he was generous enough to offer us the very first reservation with the understanding that a few things may not be completed by our arrival date which was an opportunity we gladly accepted. When we say this cabin is brand new, we mean it was literally finished during our stay, with the four giant skylights being installed on Monday as we took a morning hike nearby.
I’ll go into more detail about the structure and property below but now that it’s officially complete, I’d recommend booking your stay NOW if you’re interested as this space will book solid in no time. [Airbnb booking link]
Nick and his wife, Nassim, purchased the property in 2010 and he was quick to share nostalgic memories about the dire condition of the existing structures but it provided a beautiful forested escape from Seattle and offered great proximity to skiing at Stevens Pass, while staying in and slowly fixing up the ‘five shades of brown, rolling floor, rotten wall cabin’ that is now known as ‘Amos’ and is also available on Airbnb.
It was ultimately a backyard kids treehouse project at their home in Seattle to pass the time during 2020’s COVID summer that provided both the inspiration and confidence to reach out to some treehouse experts and start sketching ideas in September of 2020. In less than a year from those lines on paper, I woke up from a fantastic nights sleep in the loft of the completed a-frame, coming in at perfect 455 square feet.
As an architect, I am as as intrigued by those projects that starkly contrast their natural surroundings as much as those that elegantly blend in, and yet this space somehow does both for me; a sharp geometric form juxtaposed against the organic natural environment that you’re acutely aware of and connected to during your entire experience.
Sure it’s a simple and iconic form that’s been utilized for centuries, but why change a good thing?The elevated result is both peculiar and satisfying. A form that is meant to be firmly grounded and able to withstand the brunt of nature’s forces pried from its traditional context and lifted, rather ephemerally amidst the trees. A position amplified at night when this little space transforms into a floating geometric beacon who’s warm glow dissipates out into and becomes swallowed by the surrounding forest.
I really do love a good rustic space well positioned in nature the likes of a retired fire lookout but man is it nice to have modern amenities and a full bathroom while still fulfilling this childhood tree house dream, especially when you have two young children in tow.
The magic is in the details and the minimalist simplicity of the form allows them to shine. From the cable handrailing to the embedded entry floor illumination to the heated bathroom floor to the adjustable anchoring system that supports the structures two main beams it is clear this was a very personal project that we are fortunate to have shared with the public for the time being.
A full kitchen (with induction cooktop and microwave but no oven) and full bathroom place this space heads and tails beyond most other tree house rental options which usually lack one, if not both of these features. At 455 square feet it is best suited four two people but it is generous of Nick to accept those with a small child or pet which has been a big roadblock for us in the past as we prefer small unique rentals and find that they often explicitly state ‘no children.’ Guests will need to navigate a ladder to get to the loft where a king sized bed surrounded by windows awaits and the downstairs couch flattens into a sleeping surface as well with some extra bedding tucked into the nearby cabinet. And as if it couldn’t get any better, head down the stairs and find a two person hot tub directly underneath the structure to satisfy your forest soaking fantasies.
the tree-frame is situated on 4.5 acres of quintessential PNW splendor near Index, WA. it is these surroundings that are perhaps even more impressive than the individual rental itself. The moody fern and moss covered forest of the properties own ‘Trillum trail’ alongside its Southern boundary is contrasted by the white granite lined North fork of the Skykomish river on its Northern boundary, and in between sits the five well situated cabins and a bit of communal space (including horseshoe pits) of ‘Index Cabins.’
Sometimes an experience swoops in at the right time and the good vibes are magnified. Escaping a smoke choked Yakima Valley (due to the nearby Schneider Springs Fire) and landing in the wet, moss cloaked forests along the North Fork of the Skykomish river felt like a fairy tale for our little family, punctuated by the ever enchanting ‘tree-frame’ cabin. This place really resonated with us and the kids on such a deep level and we’ve already booked a return trip this fall to experience one of the other cabins.
…if something a little more grounded, or a little more space, or a little more rustic is more your style, check out the other four riverside cabin offerings from indexcabins.com. Full Photo Gallery Below.