UPDATE
Re-opening: Check out our new Safe & Sound Standards.
We have new Safe & Sound Standards for parents and providers using MeTime. Learn More

DIY shelter to escape sheltering-in-place

When you are sheltering-in-place for the foreseeable future and happen to have an Environments Designer / Architect for a friend, it’s time to request her professional pillow-fort-design guidance.
by 
Toi Valentine
When you are sheltering-in-place for the foreseeable future and happen to have an Environments Designer / Architect for a friend, it’s time to request her professional pillow-fort-design guidance. Maybe you’re tired of your kids fighting over the tiny teepee in your living room, neither of whom have yet learned personal space. 

Luckily for you, we have Hitasha Bhatia’s 5 Steps to (Architecturally Sound) Pillow Forts. Parents, we know, we know -- not ANOTHER pillow fort. But hey, this one is so fancy it may entertain for longer than 6 minutes.

DISCLAIMER:
MeTime cannot be held responsible for kids’ attention spans


Time:
 6 mins - ??? (for your sake, we hope hours)

Cost: FREE

Materials List:

  • Furniture
  • Stuff
  • At least 1 kid (optional, also great for adults who want to hide...makeshift office?)


Steps:


1. Test their commitment by starting out with a minimalist approach.

Pillow Fort building is a craft. Are they ready for this? Start small. Drape a sheet over your dining room table. Decorate the inside. Done, and you didn’t have to destroy your living room. But maybe this is underwhelming and your 4-year old is ready for more. Congratulations, that’s a sign of a kid who loves a challenge.

2. Gather your materials
Pillows, sofa cushions, chairs, movable tables, blankets, sheets, tall things, umbrellas, books, plants in heavy pots, and lazy dogs apparently make good weights.
Sort by weight and comfiness. Heaviest on the bottom, lightest on top. 

3. Choose a p-fort typology to work with.

You’re teaching your 4-year-old about Scale and Program (obviously). The key here is to guide, not initiate, even when you’re a better architect than they are and they’re doing it wrong. There are three types to start with, recommended by dad/architect Ben Pell.

  • Tunnel Fort: too small for adults, fun to jump on and collapse
  • Buttress Fort: anchor off of the sofa, the most popular fort
  • Compound Fort: for the advance p-fort builder, a true art


4. Decide on your methods of construction. Time to get technical...and resourceful.

  • Pillow masonry
  • SCPs (Structural Cushion Panels): cushions + something to help them stand freely
  • Framed Construction: The important thing here is to add ballast (material that provides structure / stability) to prevent blanket collapse.
  • P-fort pro-tip: Blankets are for walls, sheets are for roofs, secure with ballast


5. Decorate your interiors.

Encourage your child to express their personal style, but then Trojan horse some Scandinavian minimalism into their interior — you want to set them up to have good taste in the future.

Lighting is of utmost importance. It can be as simple as flashlights, but if you really care, you can do better than a flashlight.


Life Lesson: The Notion of Impermanence

Everything in this world is changing, and that’s part of the beauty of it all. Pillow forts eventually come crashing down, and that’s okay. As mom/architect Jill Stoner puts it, we’re teaching the notion of impermanence. Think of it as something fun in this moment, knowing there are probably many other iterations in the future. Best to learn this early. 

Hitasha is an Environments Designer at IDEO and auntie who is always available to help her niece and nephew build quality pillow forts (while teaching them taste).

More Articles