Pillow Forts 101

Stuart Isett for The New York Times Andrew van Leeuwen, a Seattle architect and blogger, drew traffic with posts about pillow forts. Above, his 15-month-old son, Parker, in a fort.

A more elaborate pillow fort (Photo: Andrew Van Leeuwen)

Anna and I built her first pillow fort on Friday. It was her idea.

She’s been sick the last few days. Nothing major, just a flu bug, but we’re keeping her home so she doesn’t spread it to the other kids at her school. Well, as any parent knows, a sick kid is a bored kid. But boredom isn’t a bad thing, often it inspires  creative solutions. Like this:

“Dad, I need to build a shelter.”

“A shelter?”

“Yes. I have the path and the door, and now I need walls.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant until followed her out to the living room, and then I saw it: that start of her first pillow fort. She laid out a path through the living room with her foam hopscotch board, and picked out an oversized book for a door. But then she got stuck. She had our old couch cushions—the ones she’s uses as a bed for living-room sleepovers with mom— laid out of the floor. but she didn’t know what to do with them.

“Can you help me build my shelter?”

“Of course.” Lucky for her, Dad is an experienced pillow-fort architect. Two cushions, one on each side, and a third on top: a simple post-and-lintel arch braced against the couch. A sheet over the top and voila: pillow fort!

Before long, she had gathered some books and toys to “furnish” it,  but she was missing one important detail that I caught right away through my own childhood pillow-fort experience:

“Why don’t you get your lantern so you can see.”

She’s owned a Colman camping lantern for a while now—I can’t remember when or how she got it—and it was the perfect addition. She crawled inside, flipped on the lantern, and spent the next hour playing and reading.

It was a great way to spend an otherwise boring day indoors.

The above photo is from “And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, Again:
Lessons in the Art of Pillow Fort Construction” by Matt Richtell (New York Times: April 18, 2012). The article includes a a section titled “Pillow Forts for Beginners” with tips on preventing your walls from tumbling down, again.


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