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Foolproof Fort

2013 February 11
by Becky


diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

 

Ethan and I did a little project last week.

It’s been windy and cold outside and we’ve been running out of indoor activities. We made Valentine decor, heart-shaped food, colored, met friends at museums and toddler-rock’n-roll-playing coffee joints, played trains and kitchen and dinosaurs, read a hundred books.

One super fun source of indoor entertainment we’ve never successfully completed is building a fort.

When I was young, I was the fort-making queen. My parents had this incredible 80′s-style glass-and-metal table with huge leather and wood chairs (it was insane), each piece weighing what seemed like a million pounds—PERFECT fort building materials. Blankets, pillows, books, and toys made a wonderland of imagination for me and my friends. I remember supporting corners of blankets with this heavy old clay jug and other skull-crushing items that could have crashed down at any wrong movement. How we make it through childhood is beyond me.

I guess our furniture selection is just not fort-worthy. At least, not in the sense that doesn’t pose the risk of a chair toppling on him, undoubtedly leading to suffocation and/or a concussion.

So a few minutes spent reading Ana White’s website, a little trip to the hardware store (where a visit to the “big saw” was requested only to end in wimpers of “no saw, I’m scared!”), about $25, and a little sweat later, we had a perfect little “fort” with no chance of injury, one that doesn’t need to be disassembled…ever.

 

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

 

We had everything cut down at the hardware store. Paint was leftover from Ethan’s train board, side panels made from Target tab-top curtains I’ve had since college. Really.

It was Ethan’s first construction project so I started him off right—with sanding.

 

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

 

When everything was nice and smooth, we had lunch and the Peanut hit the hay while I took out the “big mama bit collection” and started drilling. As usual, Ana’s plans were very well illustrated and straightforward…we used her oven door plan for Ethan’s kitchen and it worked perfectly.

By the time Little Man woke, we were ready for paint. I wondered if painting with a toddler was the smartest idea…but we just went for it.

He did GREAT. Thank you Ikea for the $2 smock.

 

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

 

As I’d feared, the (almost) finished product was about four feet too tall. It was massive in our living room!

So a few days later the Hubs helped me cut it down with our chop saw (took each support to 46″). So much for making things easy by having all the wood pre-cut. I guess Ana’s house is much bigger than ours.

My next task was hemming, narrowing, and velcro-izing the panels. With a much shorter tent, my trusty old curtains were way too long. Plus, I wasn’t so sure about Ana’s suggestion to staple curtain to tent…it seemed much too permanent  What if we want to add a stamped pattern? Or a window? Or change up the fabric? Velcro seemed safer.

Sure, it’s not the fastest way, but I think it was worth the time. And my $20 craigslist sewing machine handled it like a champ.

 

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

 

We’ve already done some good lazin’ around in the new fort. Or nook. Or tent. Whatever, Ethan seems to think it is pretty cool.

 

DIY-PlayTent--Ethan&Dad

DIY-PlayTent--Ethan&Mom

 

It’s also pretty popular with our furry friends.

 

diy play tent, ana white, play tent, fort, toddler tent, reading nook, nook, building fort, kids tent, old curtains, play house

 

I think I could spend a rainy day in this nook too. Pretty darn cozy.

Have you made anything by Ana?

 

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18 Responses leave one →
  1. Grandpa Joe permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Good on you.
    Your posting brought back the memories of your Dining Room Table Forts.
    Great job on the Tent. It will work outside too.

    • Becky permalink*
      February 11, 2013

      Totally! Now we just need a yard with grass to place it….

  2. Cara permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Looks GREAT!!! Nice job. Ethan is too stinkin’ cute all snuggled in there. You and Stu too of course.

    • Becky permalink*
      February 11, 2013

      Thank you! And you are the reason I found out about Ana in the first place!

  3. February 11, 2013

    Love it! I had pinned something like this and would love to give it a try. Great little escape for the wee ones…
    Jen recently posted..we’re not off to a good start this week, folksMy Profile

    • Becky permalink*
      February 11, 2013

      Well this is a super easy project…if you make it the right size to begin with (unlike me). :)

  4. February 11, 2013

    That’s funny. I had tab top curtains in my graduate school apartment too. My grandmother made them for me – copied them out of the Pottery Barn Catalog. I passed them onto friends of ours when we bought a house with giant ceilings, but that’s certainly a great way to reuse them.

    A mail slot would be fun too – nothing overdone, because I like the simplicity of the whole thing. But I know my girls always manage to make some type of portal in all of their forts and pass letters to one another.

    • Becky permalink*
      February 11, 2013

      Mail slot is a GREAT idea. One of Ethan’s favorite things is walking down the street to mail letters.

  5. February 11, 2013

    I used to love making forts when I was little too! Under the dining table was the best (and my folks had crazy 70′s/80′s furniture too).

    You’ve inspired me to make one of these for my little man for his first birthday. I think he might be a little young but the other kids coming to his party will get a kick out if it too!

    • Becky permalink*
      February 11, 2013

      wonderful! Please link back with the final result! 80′s furniture rocks.

  6. February 11, 2013

    The tent is just right. So comforting to curl up in a small cozy place. My cousin, Susie, and I used to make tents and forts under the family ping pong table. We hung towels and blankets to make rooms. We’d play in there for hours. Your uncles were big fort builders as well.

  7. Kristan permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Ok that is just awesome! I like his little friends lined up in there! Zoo animals need a home too!

  8. Mary W permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Pretty cute if you ask me.

  9. February 12, 2013

    I’m way too lazy to make something like that! we still enjoy the sheet and blanket type forts with big dictionaries holding down the corners. with a chemist hubs we have a ton of heavy books to choose from. but your fort is way cuter :)
    Amber Liddle recently posted..So much snow!!My Profile

  10. February 27, 2013

    Love it! You’ve inspired me to make one for my kid ASAP! I really love that blue color too! :)

  11. February 28, 2013

    Great job!! We’re planning on making one for our little man’s first birthday and are between the tent and the teepee. I love that you got your son involved too! Always fun having projects that they can do too. :)
    Christina @ The Murrayed Life recently posted..Let’s Hope This Ain’t a Jinx…My Profile

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