10 August 2011

A couple of weeks ago as the kids and I were wrapping up breakfast, I asked Oliver what he thought we should do with our morning. He suggested we build a fort in the living room and after a moment of consideration, I countered with an offer to build a fort under the kitchen table.

He accepted.

We spent the morning draping sheets and collecting pillows and books from upstairs. We even enjoyed our morning snack under there - some raisins and cheese with milk. Oliver and Hazel were giddy about their new accommodations and Oliver announced that we should never take it down ever - or at least until Daddy gets home from work.

So, yay - Mama gets 10 fun points for being all cool and laid back and embracing the mess and laying under the dining room table with the kids all morning!

Except that it just about killed me. The dining room was no longer a dining room. There were raisins everywhere and Hazel kept bonking her head and crying when she stood up under the table. As dreamy as the whole event sounded, it was less than ideal.

Plus, there was nowhere to eat lunch. And by dinnertime, I had had enough of ye olde fort and I wanted to put dinner on a real table without trying to tell myself that sheets were kind of like tablecloths.

That evening I cleaned up our dining room fort, not at all regretting the fun memories I'd made with the kids that day, but certainly evaluating in my mind how this could go more smoothly in the future.

I had an idea.

After tucking the kids in bed that night I hopped on online and ordered a retractable clothesline. Two days later I kissed Ryan goodbye as he headed out for work, then led the kids upstairs to the playroom, package under one arm, drill in the other.

The installation took a bit of trial and error. The plastic anchors that came in the package pulled out of the drywall after just a few test tugs from me. Because I was expecting this clothesline to stand up to the yanks and flops of busy little people (not usually a job description for most clotheslines), I needed it to be extra sturdy and safe.

I pulled out the plastic anchors and fished around Ryan's workbench for a pair of toggle bolts. Much better.


Another thing that was important to me in this installation process was commitment. Or, shall I say, lack thereof. I didn't want to have to live with that big blue thing attached to my wall every day. It needed to be able to be tucked away in a basket or a cabinet, and pulled out only when we were feeling fort-y.

I just so happen to have one wall in my playroom that offers a perfect hiding place for a wall bracket. Our wall grid (made out of lattice boards) displays interchangeable photos with bulldog clips, so I installed the clothesline bracket below one clip that hangs about four feet off the ground.


{ps - before you start thinking I'm too clever, I got the idea for the lattice boards and clips from an old Martha Stewart magazine last summer.}

I hung the hooks on either side of the window on the opposing wall behind the curtains. (I decided to buy a clothesline with two lines for the sake of options. Also, this way the forts we build will have a little bit of a roof and width to them for claustrophobic mommies.)


A couple of pretty old sheets (yard sale finds) and some fabric yardage (also from yard sales) and we had ourselves a little town of forts before lunchtime!


This project was so quick and so cheap (under $20!), I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner. No playroom should be without a retractable fort option!


And there you have it! My dining room table is now clear for dining and the kids can set up a fort whenever they like (though I did hang the hooks out of reach for safety, so they technically have to ask me first.)


Happy fort-ing, friends! And have a lovely Wednesday!


amanda said...

Fantastic. Forts & childhood go hand in hand. Great play space, too!

keight dukes said...

a fort i can live IN?

Bethany Reine' said...

love this! now, if only i had a playroom.

Johanna said...

Fabulous idea, Rachael! But what really caught my eye... my mother totally had a set of those sheets when I was younger. I'm pretty sure it's exactly the same print!

Raechel said...

Bethany - I think this is totally transferrable to a living room too. Especially if you use one that is removable like ours. Just tuck it away when you're not using it!

Kirsten Smith said...

Simply Brilliant! I can only imagine that all little munchkins would think that this is the best of ideas. I'll have to file that away...and thanks to Pinterest, I'll actually remember where I filed it. ;)

Kristie said...

Very cool! Thanks for sharing this! Gonna check out that clothesline. And I think I have the pillow cases to go with that sheet! Ha! I'm planning to make them into a skirt someday. =)

carrie said...

Great idea! Have you heard of Crazy Forts? They are building toys (sticks and balls) that you can make all different shapes and sizes of forts with and drape sheets over top of.

Cheri said...

you are SO stinking clever! my girls would LOVE this! thanks for the great idea! :)

Lauren said...

That looks like such a fun idea! I remember when I was little my aunt sewed me one of those table tent things that had cut out windows and everything. I used to spend hours in there playing house with my dolls!

Like this one - http://jinheng.en.alibaba.com/product/362666107-210661549/great_fun_table_tent.html

Christine said...

I really like this! And I hadn't seen your lattice board wall yet, and I like that, too. Yay!

also, inessnel!

Hilary said...

How fun :) The pictures are great ;)

Jenny said...

What a great idea!! Can't wait to try this out once my little guy gets older!

Also, is there any way that you can share how you did the lattice wall? I tried looking on Martha Stewart and couldn't find it. Such a great idea!! I think it would be fantastic in my guest room. Did you just use Ribbon? Or is that a different material? And how did you adhere it to the wall?

Thanks for such great ideas! We just moved into a new home & all the white walls are closing in on me! I've been needing some inspiration on ways to decorate! :)

-Jenny :)

karen said...

look at you.... now that's lovely!

Charlene Austin said...

Ok how cute is that! I don't have kids so no need for a fort.....maybe. Haha. I found you a couple years ago based on your garage sale finds but I love every single thing on your blog. Watching your life with kids and seeing them grow is just so fun!

Oh and what kind of store sells that clothesline? Would it work on a deck? I can't put up a regular line but this would sure beat throwing clothes over my patio chairs.

Charlene Austin said...

Sorry.....just saw you linked it so I'll search the brand for a Canadian supplier! Thanks!

Elle said...

What a terrific idea, one that will bring much fun for years! I'm very impressed that you installed this yourself (especially since I've never driven a nail).

Kerrie said...

Reminds me of the tents I made for my daughter using our hooped mosquito net.

I'd hang it from a hook under the back porch & arrange it to suit the space.I also sewed some loops at intervals around the bottom and would hang it from a tree & use tent pegs to stake out the bottom.

We'd fill it with quilts, cushions and pillows and hang out, even slept under it one night.

Jennifer said...

What a fun Mama! Haven't left a comment in a while, but thought I'd stop in and say hi. Love keeping up with your family on your blog. Hazel is getting so big! :-)

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Adrienne said...

What a great idea!

Lindsay Conner said...

This construction is so smart--I love the idea! Featured your project today at http://www.craftbuds.com/fresh-picks-for-wednesday-8-17-11/