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The Quist: The King of Treehouses on Merry Hill in Herefordshire

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The Quist: The King of Treehouses on Merry Hill in Herefordshire

May 1, 2023

In the UK there are apparently so many treehouse hotels that The Times Travel section recently issued its list of the 12 latest and greatest. At the top? The Quist, a Covid pipe dream project of a young couple: Harriet Churchward and Matt Pescod live with Minnie, their three-year-old, in Herefordshire on the grounds of Brinsop Court, the 800-acre estate complete with moated manor that Harriet’s parents own and operate as a wedding venue.

Matt is a musician and carpenter—he trained in fine woodworking at a boat-building academy—Harriet is a self-described “sleep-deprived entrepreneur” with a penchant for design. “When Matt and I fixed up our first place together, we discovered we work well as a team.”

At Brinsop Court, Matt hiked to the bracken-filled meadow atop Merry Hill, the highest point on the property, and suggested it as a prime spot to built a hideaway to run as a retreat. A very arduous year later, they unveiled their high-style aerie: a hand-built, two-bedroom cabin that rests on stilts amid old-growth forest.

London designer Matilda Goad recently checked in with her family and pronounced The Quist “The King of Treehouses.” Come see.

Photography by Luke Atkinson unless noted, courtesy of The Quist (@the_quist_treehouse).

the treehouse—a house amid trees—is located on the bald spot of a 17
Above: The treehouse—a house amid trees—is located on the bald spot of a very steep hill with no other dwellings in the immediate vicinity, and operates by solar power and bottled gas. Harriet and Matt put enormous consideration into every detail. Says Harriet, “we wanted it to feel like a home belonging to someone who lives off the land: nothing too fancy or at all suburban but full of personality: someone really cares about this place.”

“A lot of the design came out of material we had available,” Harriet continues. “Those log ends in the gable were the final construction detail—we made them from leftover wood. I wanted texture and details that signify this is not just any cabin.”

there&#8\2\17;s a built in welly rack at the entrance: guests are welcome t 18
Above: There’s a built-in welly rack at the entrance: guests are welcome to roam Brinsop’s surrounding 800 acres, much of which is protected woodland.
a ladder staircase leads to the top bedroom. &#8\2\20;we couldn&#8\2\17 19
Above: A ladder staircase leads to the top bedroom. “We couldn’t just put in a stair,” says Harriet. “With everything, we asked ourselves, ‘Is this too much like an urban home?’—and if it was we kept thinking.” To make the most of the space, they created a dining area with nook seating. Matt built the table from “super fat dowels” and rounded the outer edge “so people don’t catch their hips.”

The couple worked in tandem and also enlisted the help of others, including Will Millward, an architect friend who helped with the designs and the planning permission. Harriet consulted from afar with Sophie Rowell of Côte de Folk, who shared sourcing ideas and designed the upstairs Tent Room.

the times approvingly described the design as &#8\2\20;treading a neat line 20
Above: The Times approvingly described the design as “treading a neat line between blingy and bucolic.” The compact curtained kitchen has become Instagram famous. An Indian stainless steel plate rack from Stovold & Pogue neatly holds all the dinnerware, plus cookbooks, sun hats, and games.
harriet found the old ceramic salting sink on facebook marketplace: &#8\2\2 21
Above: Harriet found the old ceramic salting sink on Facebook Marketplace: “It was in somebody’s back garden full of rain water and moss—and so heavy it took the woman who posted it, her husband, their new next door neighbor, and me to lever it into the car.” Finding the right faucet for the narrow space was challenging: they went with deVol’s Aged Brass Mayan Taps.

The terracotta tiles on the counter are from Topp’s Tiles, “the UK’s most bog-standard place to get tiles,” says Harriet. The blue sliver of a backsplash are encaustic tiles from Otto Tiles. For details on the frilly hanging light, see our recent Trend Alertthe quist, a tree cabin rental in herefordshire, england. luke atkinson photo. 22Above: DeVol also supplied the brass Café Curtain Rail and clips. The wooden wall paneling was a joint project: “Matt applied strip after strip; I primed and painted two coats on each,” says Harriet. Matt also laid the rough-sawn oak floor “to be continuous from inside to out, so all the boards line up.”  

The wall clock is a DIY project that Harriet made in a pottery class.

the cabin is gas heated, but a fire felt essential. &#8\2\20;matt researche 23
Above: The cabin is gas heated, but a fire felt essential. “Matt researches everything to the nth degree and found our solution: it’s not a wood stove, it’s an ethanol burner—something new that people need to know about because they’re great,” says Harriet. “You pour liquid ethanol into a cavity and light it with a long match. It kicks out a lot of heat and is smoke free (no ash or soot)—and doesn’t have a chimney, plus it can be moved around.” Their model is a Burford Bioethanol Modern Stove.
the living room opens to a wide deck with wood burning hot tub. 24
Above: The living room opens to a wide deck with wood-burning hot tub.
harriet says that the arlow & jacob sofa, which came out of their own livin 25
Above: Harriet says that the Arlow & Jacob sofa, which came out of their own living room, is “so big and squishy” that at least three guests have bought one for themselves.
the barn door leads to the bathroom. 26
Above: The barn door leads to the bathroom.
curtains on a whittled branch divide the the washing up area, with an old concr 27
Above: Curtains on a whittled branch divide the the washing up area, with an old concrete industrial sink (“so big you put your toiletry bag in the middle”) from the bathtub: “it’s a stone tub from Lusso,” says Harriet. “A wacking piece of white porcelain would have looked out of place, but I wanted something clean and really luxurious.” The toilet is another successful eco discovery of Matt’s: it’s an incinerator loo.

The walls are raw plaster, which in the UK has a pink hue, and are finished with a sealant from Edward Bulmer Natural Paint down the road. Matt painstakingly clad the ceiling with oak strips salvaged from the floor of a flooded barn at Brinsop Court.

the wood burning hot tub took a while to heat until matt figured out a way to s 28
Above: The wood-burning hot tub took a while to heat until Matt figured out a way to speed up the process using an industrial blower. See our 10 Easy Pieces: Wood-Burning Hot Tubs.
the shower was planned for the  bathroom until harriet realized this was a 29
Above: The shower was planned for the  bathroom until Harriet realized this was a prime spot for showering with a view. The green zellige are from Otto Tiles.  the shower was planned for the  bathroom until harriet realized this was a 30Above: The downstairs bedroom, accessed off the entry, has a clever sliding headboard: the beds can be set up as twins or pushed together to form a super king. The thatched ceiling is rush matting from Brandon Thatchers and the striped duvets—a king-size design that Harriet cut in half—are by Australian line Society of Wanderers.
matt built the peg rack from offcuts, and &#8\2\20;used personalized napkin 31
Above: Matt built the peg rack from offcuts, and “used personalized napkins rings from our wedding as loops,” notes Harriet. “We had them made with initials. These are inside out—they’re the ones that drunk people forgot to take home with them.”
sophie rowell of côte de folk designed the upstairs tent room. it has an e 32
Above: Sophie Rowell of Côte de Folk designed the upstairs Tent Room. It has an extra wide headboard of velvet patchwork with built-in copper light switches from Dowsing & Reynolds.
voluptuous custom curtains of house linen from the hackney draper create a tent 33
Above: Voluptuous custom curtains of House Linen from The Hackney Draper create a tent effect. The room is entered via a hatch.
the cabin rests on stilts—no concrete was used in its constructionȁ 34
Above: The cabin rests on stilts—no concrete was used in its construction–and the decking runs around two oak trees. Photograph by Joel Hoddell.
brinsop court&#8\2\17;s tree surgeon carved and laid the ash stair that lea 35
Above: Brinsop Court’s tree surgeon carved and laid the ash stair that leads from the bottom of the hill to the top. You can also reach the cabin by car via a very steep and bumpy track.
a drone view. matt and harriet plan to be build a second tree house, and she&am 36
Above: A drone view. Matt and Harriet plan to be build a second tree house, and she’s now taking on interior consultations. Photograph by Joel Hoddell.
the view from here. photograph by joel hoddell. 37
Above: The view from here. Photograph by Joel Hoddell.

The Quist is in Hereford, a three hour drive west of London. The nearest airports are in Birmingham and Bristol. Harriet and Matt run the hideaway themselves—Harriet is “the reservations person and the cleaning crew”—and they live on the next hill over.

Explore the Remodelista Design Travel archive for more getaway ideas, including:

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