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Living Room Forts Are Totally Awesome.

Father and daughter reading in a blanket fort
Photo by sturti/iStockPhoto

’Tis the season when cold, wet, and windy weather can keep kiddos cooped up indoors … and that means ’tis the season for the blanket fort! With a little imagination, sheets and blankets draped over tables, couches, or chairs can become superhero caves, bear dens, elf houses, mermaid grottos, the “office,” and oh so much more. Sometimes you’ll be allowed in, sometimes you won’t, and sometimes you might be an alligator that chases little children right up until they escape, cackling with glee, inside the fort’s cozy depths.

The great thing about this activity is that you already have anything you’ll need to make the magic happen. There’s no wrong way to do it (well, other than using a lamp or other breakable object as a brace), but here are five basic steps to get you started:

1. Pick the best spot for your fort.

Living rooms and dining rooms are great for forts, but if you want it to stay up for a few days, build it in a low-traffic area such as a basement, playroom, or child’s bedroom. Ideally, pick a location that has heavy, sizeable furniture (tall chairs, sofas, bedframes, etc.) that can serve as the base or anchor for draping. If you’re limited on appropriate furniture, simply hang a big sheet over the kitchen table and you’ll have a spectacular fort.

2. Pick your covering(s).

Sheets are ideal because they’re lightweight, big, and let a bit of light through. But large blankets, quilts, and beach towels are all lovely options as well.

3. Start draping.

Hang and stretch your sheets and blankets between your various pieces of furniture—the key is making sure you’re using stable furniture that isn’t prone to tipping. Call on your inner MacGyver to find a securing method that works: Clothespins, rubber bands, clamps, or binder clips all can come in handy. You can also literally raise the roof using a foam roller as a prop.

4. Get little engineers involved.

Invite your children to add to the fort by building walls out of couch cushions, dragging over an Ikea play tunnel or homemade cardboard box tunnel for an escape hatch, and creating a soft nest inside with blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows. Then they can add whatever small tables, chairs, stuffed buddies, toys, and games they see fit. Flashlights are a fun essential for darker dwellings.

5. Let the flights of fancy begin!

Whether it’s a cozy nest for story-time; an unexpected spot for a picnic; a secret hideout for cowboys, Martians, and princesses; or the only safe place in a landscape of lava, a blanket fort will make your little one’s everyday extraordinary.

Take lots of pictures because this is the stuff that faded, fingerprint-covered childhood photo albums are made of.

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