All kids seem to like making dens, whether under furniture or trees, in little crooks or corners, with blankets or chairs – wherever and however they can. When our first son, Leo, was four years old, he was especially into “building”, having watched us construct our own home from the day he was born. He was constantly making pens and shelters for his toys, or caves for him and his brother. So one year for Christmas, we decided to make the boys their own Fun Fort.
The Fun Fort cost a little under $200 and took three days to make (one to cut, one to assemble, one to paint). It’s a two-story play house with a bedroom (where we put a mattress) and shelves on the bottom, and a playroom and desk on the top, although the design can be adjusted to fit your particular needs. And don’t be scared by the length of these instructions – they are a lot more complicated to read than they are to do!
Leo got to help with almost every step of construction, excluding the use of power tools (we weren’t brave enough for that). He loved being a part of making it, and he and Nicky still spend a large portion of their time in it. Leo often slept in the bedroom, has asked many times if he and Nicky can eat in there, and was originally a little upset that we didn’t include a bathroom. The best part of this gift was that the whole family took part in the process, as quality family time is the best holiday gift there is.
The cost was more than we would have normally spent on a Christmas gift, but it was worth every cent, and will give them years of enjoyment. Not to mention the peace and quiet the parents get when the kids are so entertained!
6 pieces of 8ft long 1″x1″ lumber (preferably with rounded corners)
2lbs of 1 1/4″ wood screws
6 sheets (8ft x 4ft) of 3/8″ plywood (see note below)
We used 3/8″ plywood, and it works just fine, especially with a couple of supports across the floor of the second story. However, before we put it together, it tended to bow, which made marking it with a chalk-line a little harder. 1/2″ would be stouter and would bow less. If you would rather use 1/2″, you will have to change some of the measurements of this design, as follows:
Wherever you see 3/8″, replace with 1/2″.
Wherever you see 5/8″, replace with 1/2″.
Wherever you see 1/4″, round down to the nearest even inch.
Even inches remain as they are.
Dremel if you have one, for the windows
Using the tape measure, marker and chalkline, mark the plywood according to the diagrams (click to each thumbnail to see the full picture). The individual pieces are labeled as follows:
A – Floor
Starting in left-hand corner, measure 7 ft. Then measure 2 ft down. Turn 90º to the right, and measure another 2 ft. Make a turn 90º to the left for 1 ft. Turn 90º to the right for 5ft. Turn 90º to the right for 3ft, back to your starting point.
B – Bedroom
B1 – Front, with door and stairs – 60″ x 35 1/4″
B2 – Left-hand end, with window – 35 1/4″ x 35 1/4″
B3 – Back, no openings – 60″ x 35 1/4″
B4 – Small end on right that connects to shelving unit – 12″ x 35 1/4″
B5 – Ceiling (or floor to the playroom) – 60″ x 36″
P – Playroom
P1 – Back, no openings – 36″ x 35 5/8″
P2 – Left-hand end, with window – 35 1/4″ x 35 5/8″
P3 – Front, with window – 36″ x 35 5/8″
P4 – Ceiling – 36″ x 36″
P5 – Piece that connects playhouse to desk part of shelving unit – 18″ x 36″
(If you don’t mind getting an extra piece of plywood, it would be better to join P1 and P5, so it’s one piece of 54″ x 36″)
S – Shelving Unit
S1 – Shelf front – 24″ x 71 5/8″
S2 – Right-hand end – 23 1/4″ x 71 5/8″
S3i – Half of back piece – 12″ x 71 5/8″
S3ii – Half of back piece – 12″ x 71 5/8″
(If you don’t mind getting an extra piece of plywood, you can join S3i and S3ii, so it’s one piece of 24″ x 71 5/8″)
S4, S5, S6, S7 – Shelves – 23 5/8″ x 23 1/4″
S8 – Half shelf above the desk – 12″ x 23 1/4″
You can make the door, windows and stairs any size and shape you want, but for a general idea of dimensions, this is what we did.
We put windows in B2, P2 and P3. We used a Dremel tool to cut out two 1 ft diameter circles in each panel. The centers of these circles were 10″ from the top and 10″ in from both side edges of the plywood.
A note on screwing these chunks: we did not pre-drill, because we’re lazy, and some of them split and had to be replaced. If you’re conscientious, you should pre-drill all the chunks once they are glued in place!
Once the paint is dry, your can move your kids and their toys in. We added a foam mattress in the bedroom, and the boys soon filled all the shelves with their favorite toys. Enjoy your new FunFort!