HOW TO BUILD THE ULTIMATE BLANKET FORT

So you’ve finally decided to regress to childhood and hide not only from the world outside, but also the world in the rest of the house or apartment.  Good for you!  However, hiding in the closet isn’t the way to do it; forget about crawling under the bed.  Everybody knows there is only one way to create a secret world that willfully excludes everything adult and worrisome about the world: build a blanket fort.

Blanket forts unleash the primal 8-year-old in you.  They are easy to assemble but can be as complex and baroque as your imagination can allow. A blanket fort can be simple and utilitarian, providing space for one.  They can be lush tents fit for harem.  They can have multiple rooms (or “chambers”, as some fort builders call them), peaked roofs, furniture, hidden stashes, sleeping areas, and common areas.  Some have lighting, and some even have running water.  Most can be assembled in minutes, although a blanket Taj Mahal can take days of work.  The can also be disassembled quickly.  Most importantly, they are manifestations of our need for solitude and is the closest many of us ever get to having our own vacation home.

Here is what you will need:

Sheets and blankets:  These are the walls of the fortress.  Blankets are preferred, as they are more opaque and less prone to ripping, but sheets can be used to enclose wide areas, and allow some light to seep through

blanket2Pillows and cushions:  These are useful not only for resting your troubled head upon, but also as anchors for the blankets, support for doorways, and obstacles preventing unauthorized entry from hostile forces.

Comforter or sleeping bag: Expect to spend a lot of time prone in your fort, so neglecting one of these means lying on the hard floor.  If you have neither, sofa cushions can be used as a substitute, but their bulk requires a higher ceiling clearance.

Safety pins, clothes pins, thick elastic bands:  You will need to connect blankets together, and also attach them to walls, drapery, furniture, or other exterior objects to keep them fast and in place.

blanket3Broomstick: This depends on the style of fortress you are building.  A broomstick can function as a useful tent-pole, and is good for teepee-style fortresses.  A broomstick can also be positioned atop two chair backs as a central ceiling beam.

Flashlight: Your primary source of lighting.  You should be able to fasten it either to the ceiling of your fort or to a fortress wall for hands-free lighting, but it should also be easily detached for mobility when needed.

Accessories:

Weapons: Nerf guns are traditional defenses.  Pillows are dangerous as weapons, because if thrown or swung they may send the whole fort crashing down, while a Nerf gun assures accuracy without risking structural failure.  Water guns should only be deployed in the most hostile of environments, as they can damage or stain sheets, blankets, and pillow covers.

blanket4Christmas lights: This is the elegant way to light your fortress and to give it an added otherworldly ambiance.  Use the safe, non-heating ones so you don’t accidentally burn to death in a fire.  These can be strung along the entrance and interior to provide enough glow to read by.

Entertainment: If you want to go the retro- route (often preferred among fortress builders over 40), then comic books, Mad magazine, and vintage girly magazines are the traditional forms of entertainment.  However, anything is permissible in your own fortress.  Radios, iPads, video games, laptops, TV’s, and cellphones often find their way into modern ones. However, keep your purpose in mind: if solitude and reflection is what you’re after, consider leaving out all electronics.

Snacks: Should not require refrigeration, unless your fortress contains a refrigerator. Cookies, crackers, fruit, raisins, pop tarts, and Hostess cakes can keep fresh relatively long. Try to avoid food items with a lot of packaging; leave a small carbon footprint.

Wall Hooks: Especially the kind with adhesive backing. These are great for keeping your frequently-used tools and items in close range without creating clutter.

Signage:  Traditional blanket fortresses will have a sign warning trespassers to Keep Out. However, imagination is the only limitation as to what they can say.  They can be pinned to an entrance, or posted several steps in front of the entrance.

blanket5How much time you spend in your blanket fortress is up to you.  It can be as little as a few minutes of quick meditation, or it can be and epic stay of a weekend or beyond.  In the latter cases, it might be wise to run an enclosed passageway into the bathroom.  Resist the temptation to bring a bucket into your fortress, especially if you tend to kick a lot in your sleep.  Constructed right, your fortress can be the man or woman cave of your dreams. Some of the most creative creations look better than a typical apartment in a cramped city. And for those who like the idea in theory, but simply don’t want to commit to building one because some shred of dignity keeps holding them back: using blankets as wall covering can convey the same ambiance, particularly with the right lighting.

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