The Fort

Posted by on Apr 23, 2012 in backyard, burlap, outdoors, the fort | 16 comments

My girls have claimed a corner of our backyard under an overgrown privet hedge.  They call it “The Fort.”  They spend hours playing any number of games back there.  I love their creativity, but I do not enjoy their mess 🙂  They were really hoping for a tree house, but the tree is not actually a tree. . . more of an overgrown shrub!  So, to meet their need of defining more of a “space” and to meet my need of not having to see their mess, I came up with this idea.

Here is how the space looked BEFORE:

Yes, I let them dig a giant hole in our backyard!  They scoured the neighborhood for rocks and spent several days hauling them in our wheelbarrow!

Notice the buckets hanging from branches. . . papers taped to an old brick pallet. . . a table made out of old wood and iron chairs that a neighbor gave them. . . an old “Window World” sign that they painted pink. . . a place full of creativity (and clutter!)

My original idea was to get outdoor fabric and make curtains with grommets and hang that from clothesline.  Once I priced the outdoor fabric and grommets (which would have been very cute,) I realized that this was going to be more money than I was willing to spend!

I tried to think of other fabric that could get wet and still be ok.  The lightbulb went on – shower curtains!  And, they already have a way to hang them sewn right into the top.  This was turning into a “no-sew” project!

I found these great shower curtains over at our discount store that is going out of business – Rose’s.  I bought 4 shower curtains at $7.50 a piece and 4 sets of shower rings at $1 a set!  The girls wanted a “cute – yet – rustic” look.  I thought that the tone on tone brown polka dots would be great!

A trip to the hardware store for the clothesline. . .

I simply strung the clothesline from the fence to the “tree.”  I tied knots to hold it – not fancy boy scout knots – just simple shoe tying knots.

I added a few “cute – yet – rustic” details.

I made a burlap sign, cutting 2 burlap circles for each letter to spell out “THE FORT.”  I traced the lid of a pan to get the size I wanted.

Then, I painted each letter onto the circles.  (Remember that burlap has holes in it, so make sure you paint on a surface that it does not matter.  I used a paper plate.)  Of course, I used a paint that I already had.  One day I am going to run out of extra paint!

After all of the letters were painted, I cut rope for each letter that I could hang from the shower curtain rings.  I cut each piece a little bit different length because I like that look better!

I hot glued each piece of rope between the 2 burlap circles.

With all of the letters ready to hang, I had another thought.  The girls are always taping paper to the fence and to the trunk of the shrub, so I decided to give them a place that they could post the papers they were wanting to post.  I found this great old cabinet door over at our Habitat store for $3!  I sprayed it down with a acrylic sealer and added 2 metal clips.

The final touch was an old plate holder that I used to hang in my kitchen.  I cut up an old piece of wood and painted the words: The – crew – is – in.  When you flip the “in” it says “out”on the other side.

Then I hung a metal cone from the plate holder.  (A freebie from a neighbor that I spray painted.  I painted the metal cone, not my neighbor!)  Notice the metal cone.  It is definitely “cute – yet – rustic.”

Time to hang the curtain and add the accessories!

I cut an extra piece of rope and tied a knot at the end of each curtain so they could place the ring over the knot to keep the curtain from sliding.

And, here are the final results:

I have one happy group of girls!

And, they can hide all of their creative goodness behind these curtains!  I actually ended up hanging 2 more down the other side of the shrub 🙂

Here are some fun shots of what they do in “The Fort.”

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  1. How cool is this!! I had a “fort” when I was a kid back in the “dinosaur” days, and I know you will love yours as much as I did mine. Have fun and God Bless!!

    • They are so excited to get back there and start playing! These are fun times!

  2. LOVE IT!!! Great job! My favorite memories as a child were playing in THE FORT!!! I can’t wait to have some trees!!! Love the curtains and the dirt filled pans! Can we come play!!?? 😉

    • They have a blast back there! And now I do not have to see all of their “creative clutter!”

  3. Such a GREAT idea!! I love this… have to pin it!

    • And very thrifty! Thanks for stopping by! My girls are out there playing as I type!

  4. Their fort is AMAZING!!! My youngest daughter would love it! I would love for you to share it at my party going on now at Jillify It!


    • Be glad to! My girls are having a blast out under that giant shrub!

  5. Those are some lucky kids! Looks like fun. Thanks for sharing over at The Winthrop Chronicles.

  6. What a wonderful idea! I think I just found a summer project for my son.

    • My girls are having a blast out there! They have big plans for decorating, of course! I look forward to seeing how it evolves!

  7. This is simply precious! hours,days,weeks, months of fun!!! how stinkin clever!! featuring this tonight on our facebook page! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the feature!!! Yes, my kids are having a ball out there. I am going to have to take some more pictures of how they have decorated!

  8. I love it! I would have killed for a fort like this as a kid! I made a puppet theater from a pallet for my daughter last week, and she loves it…I can’t even imagine how crazy she would go over this! Great job!

    Jessica @ Mom 4 Real

    • I bet your puppet theatre is precious! My girls sure are enjoying their fort. . . and all of the neighborhood kids! It is a kid magnet!

  9. Hello Melissa and girls. I love hearing about your life!! Malisa and family moved to Idaho in Nov. and we have been trying to decide how to make a fort for her 3 children in our small back yard…the shower curtain idea is a great one! Monty and Mari (4 children) also live close to us…I hope you don’t mind me sending this on to them! Sure love you…fern


  1. Annabelle Hydrangeas! - [...] You can see my children’s “fort” at the back of the side yard.  You can read how I made…
  2. My Backyard - [...] My girls still have their place in the backyard.  You can read about their “fort” here. [...]

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