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If you’ve ever spent a summer afternoon chilling within a self-constructed shelter, you’re already familiar with the following fact: everything is cooler in a fort. If you’ve yet to explore this obligatory childhood pastime—also considered a survival-skill-developing exercise—don’t fret. It’s never too late to build yourself the ultimate DIY happy place.

the-tree-fortThe Tree Fort—where everything is shaded and therefore cooler…literally.
Summer is best savored in the great outdoors, especially if you hail from the northern regions. Given the dangers of prolonged heat and sun exposure, you might want to consider taking your fort-building to a wooded area. First, pick your plot. No need to climb, unless you’re feeling extra ambitious. An area beneath a shady tree should suffice brilliantly. Next, channel your inner hunter-gatherer and collect small logs, leafy branches, pieces of plywood pilfered from a nearby construction site’s dump pile (guilty), anything you can safely carry. By this point, the creative juices are flowing and you’re ready to break ground on your outdoor digs. Lean your materials against a standing trunk, or prop them against a felled tree to your desired height and square footage. For the finishing touch, lay a soft carpet of pine needles and let the sweet aroma transport you to summer camp days of yore.

the-pillow-blanket-sofa-fortThe Pillow-Blanket-Sofa Fort—because that’s no sofa, it’s an assembly of shelter supplies.
When the weather won’t cooperate for a makeshift outdoor abode, work with what you’ve got indoors. Arguably a hybrid of a few distinct fort classifications, the Pillow-Blanket-Sofa Fort is the ultimate chill zone. Any pillows, couch cushions, blankets, overturned or upright furniture pieces are fair game. The Pillow-Blanket-Sofa Fort is a far cozier escape for watching movies, playing and listening to music, snacking and storytelling than, say, your standard living room. There’s something magical—at any age—about sitting in a dimly lit, tented structure with a flashlight and good company. Gather your kids (or adult friends) and revisit that magic feeling on the next rainy day.

the-cardboard-fortThe Cardboard Fort—out-of-the-box thinking for environmentally sustainable packaging reuse.
Before recycling that extra-large appliance, furniture or moving box, reconsider its lifecycle. A giant box turned on its side is suddenly a four-walled, covered structure with functioning doors. It is also a spaceship. Stick a toddler in a cardboard box and they’ll figure it out soon enough. Should you come into the possession of multiple boxes, you’ve struck fort building gold. Arrange said gold in a “totally tubular” structure and marvel at how much better the world looks from your perspective in a corrugated tunnel.

In summary: forts rule. The possibilities are endless—and the age limit? Non-existent. Dust off your imagination and you’ll find you already have everything you need to build the coolest hangout in town. You should probably go build one today.