IKEA trips are always a blast, and the fun doesn’t have to stop after assembling all the furniture. That is the fun part, right? After all was said and done outfitting the kids’ rooms with new beds, dressers, bar stools (those were for mommy and daddy, of course), and more, we were left with a huge pile of large cardboard boxes – perfect materials for a fort!
I knew right off the bat that it would be a castle-themed fort, but beyond that I had no concrete plans. While I thought to research how to best approach the design so that I could then draw up some proper blueprints, the cardboard just sat there taking up space. With my wife lustfully eyeing the recycling bin as days passed by, I decided to just ditch the plans and wing it. So here’s what I did:
Starting with same-sized boxes for the four corners, I set each one up at ninety-degree angles. This would set the height and width of the structure. I then found some other boxes to fill in the gaps, again utilizing ninety-degree angles, which would act as load-bearing walls to help support a roof, while at the same time adding some visual interest inside. Everything was secured with my trusty packing tape.
There were flaps on the tops of the boxes, so I began cutting them at intervals to make the tops of the walls into crenelated battlements (the alternating notches atop the castle walls from which archers could defend the castle) purely for the visual appeal, although subsequently realizing that the folded down sections would be great for laying down and attaching the roof.
In the spirit of any fan of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and the whole A Song of Ice and Fire series, I felt obliged to include a throne. Not just any ordinary seat, but an over-the-top, hulking, behemoth of a cardboard throne. Thus, when laying down the roof, I left a very large semi-circular hole at the back, where the cardboard throne could be lowered into place. Fortunately, I had kept all of the thick cardboard strips, used in place of styrofoam, to hold the IKEA pieces in place inside the boxes. They made for some great swords that could be attached to a back piece. The seat itself is basically a box with reinforced cross-sections inside, which could easily hold the weight of two tiny butts, and possibly even a cat.
FInally I cut out arched windows and doors, added some lantern hooks, and threw in a working flagpole. While I still have a few minor touches to add, “The Cardboard Keep” is all but finished.
It sounds like a lot of work, but the whole thing came together rather quickly. The hardest part was just getting started. Watching my kids dress up and play inside everyday made it well worth the time spent. I’d really love to see how other people went about creating forts of their own, so if you have some photos, please send them my way!