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Tree houses have been growing steadily in popularity across the globe, since they enable children and adults to feel a stronger connection to nature and give them a secure vantage point from which to observe the beauty and activity around them. For children, tree houses and forts have the added bonus of being a private space; one in which they are the captain, director, storyteller, teacher – in every sense the creator and ‘boss’ of themselves. If you always loved having your own private oasis in which to express your creativity, enjoy a little ‘me’ time while reading a book or listening to music, or camping out with family and friends in your backyard, the following fort or den ideas may appeal.
Soft Blanket Forts for Indoors
One of the best ways to start when it comes to DIY fort building is with a soft fabric fort for kids, which can be easily disassembled when you need the space. All you need are large blankets and sheets and furniture that will keep your blankets in place (think tall shelves, large cardboard boxes that can be placed on either end of your ‘fort’, or countertops). Lightweight summery blankets are ideal for the top of your fort (since they will easily stay up by placing a weight on top of each end of the blanket) while soft quilts or thick blankets will serve as your ‘flooring’.
Children are Natural Architects and Designers
Make sure to involve your children in the process of building. Children, says expert Dr. David Sobel, are “natural fort builders” and during the process they can hone their abilities in interior design and architecture. A fort needn’t be square or rectangular-shaped. With the help of a few sticks, you can try out different designs – including pyramidal, canopy, and teepee-shaped havens. Invite your children to decorate the fort’s interiors with their artwork, fairy lights, paper flowers and origami creations, and colorful toys.
Outdoor Tree Houses
If you have a sizable garden and you’d like to build a wooden fort beneath their welcoming shade, there are many online treehouse plans that will help make it easy – even if you are totally new to the game. The Handmade Home has an online plan for a beautiful and easy outdoor wooden fort built atop a raised deck accessible by a small four-step ladder. It has a triangular sloped roof, wooden-decked flooring and a main ‘entrance’ made of fabric. The home is large enough to fit toys, boxes, décor, and a little table and can easily fit between two and three children. Made with Happy and Popular Mechanics also have plans and instructions that you might enjoy checking out.
Indoor and Outdoor Fort Kits
If hammers and nails aren’t your thing but you’d like to build something more solid than a fabric fort or tent, fort kits are the way to go. They are cheap (ranging from around $90 to $140) but they are adaptable, easy to store away (they come in a tiny box), and easy to use. Fort kits essentially consist of poles, connectors, and clips. They come with planned suggestions for different shaped forts (including triangle and square forts and forts with graceful arched roofs and compartments) but in reality, you can arrange their components as best suits you. These kits are usually deemed suitable for children aged 6.5 and upwards, which means that children can easily help you assemble their dream fort. The clips are used to create ‘walls’ between the poles. Many kids clip in large pieces of construction paper, which they then paint or color so their fort looks extra magical.
Children are your best ally when it comes to building indoor and outdoor forts because of their vivid imaginations. If you’ve never built a fort before, a fabric fort is ideal for your first project. You can also rely on online templates and fort kits for firmer constructions that can serve as your child’s favorite ‘hideaway’ when they wish to observe the outdoor world ‘without being seen’.