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Living for Play

How to build your kids a magical hideaway

Article by Angela Broockerd

Photography by Janie Jones Photography

Originally published in Waconia City Lifestyle

Childhood play and forts go hand in hand, forming an enchanting realm where imaginations soar and adventures unfold. Children eagerly construct secret hideaways, using blankets, pillows, and whatever materials within reach. These makeshift forts became havens, offering a sanctuary from the outside world to immerse in limitless possibilities. Within the walls of these forts, they transform into fearless pirates, intrepid explorers, or brave knights defending imaginary kingdoms. Childhood play and forts provide freedom to create our own narratives, fostering creativity, collaboration, and a sense of wonder that lingers in kids' memories long after they outgrow those magical hideaways. 

Here, we provide you an opportunity to create not only an easy and inexpensive way to create your kiddo’s outdoor fort for use of wanderlust and immersive imagination, but also with its charm, the perfect spot for the kids to lounge, relax and have snack time too. 

This A-frame structure is easily customizable to any style and color scheme desired. Leave the wood bare, or add flare with paint or stain. An outdoor clubhouse provides a space that allows kids to make it their own and to let their imaginations run wild spending time outdoors. 

For this project, we visited Home Depot to get all the necessary supplies. The deck is 8 x 10 so there is no need to cut down the length of any boards. Pressure treated wood was used. First, dig holes 18 inches down to put the footers, which is a 4 x 4 x 8 treated post and cut it into two foot lengths. Next, pour quick set concrete in the holes. Add water, and set the posts in and let it dry. We used lag screws to attach the base 2 x 10’s to the corner posts, and then 2 x 6’s for the joists with metal hangers. Now time to put on the decking boards with exterior screws. Don’t forget to constantly check with a level. Once the decking is finished, it’s time for fun!

For the A-frame you need a 60-degree angle at the top of the A, and a 30-degree angle at the bottom. You can run a 4 x 4 along the decking to attach the A-frame to, which adds a bit of height so adults can stand in it as well. Use heavy duty exterior screws to attach the A-frame 2 x 4’s to the structure. The top of the A comes together and is held by exterior screws. For the roofing, we used 8-foot corrugated clear panels and screwed those into the A-frame for a weather protecting cover. We left three feet uncovered so a chair and some pots with herbs and flowers could be added to the entrance. Decorate with outdoor pillows, a children’s table, outdoor rug and hanging flower pots to make it feel like a special place for kids to go. If entertaining friends, a few simple charcuterie boards are always a hit. 

The realm of kids' play and imagination is a treasured and vital aspect of childhood. It not only fosters creativity, problem-solving skills, and cognitive development but also serves as an outlet for self-expression and emotional growth. It is within the worlds of these make-believe kingdoms and fantastical scenarios that children discover the essence of joy, curiosity, and uninhibited wonder. As parents, we get to encourage and create sacred spaces like this to plant the seeds of creativity. Enjoy these memories and use this hideaway as a way to preserve the magic of living for play.