A Fort I Can Live With

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.
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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.

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{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.)

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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!

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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!

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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.)

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Happy fort-ing, friends!

Post by Raechel : www.raechelmyers.com

  • http://bedtimemonsters.blogspot.com/ Darcy

    I love this idea!!

  • http://www.simplysarahanne.blogspot.com Sarah-Anne

    i’d totally pin this idea if I had a Pinterest; you are too clever!!

  • Julie

    Any chance you know which Martha Stewart has the info in the lattice board with clips? I’d love to do that in our playroom!

  • http://tractorsandtireswings.com Dawn @ Tractors and Tire Swings

    Found you through Pinterest – amazing idea!!! I thrifted those sheets too – love them!!