Both from personal experience and the testament of others, I’d suggest that the childhood activity most wistfully reminisced about by those now in the realms of adulthood is building forts. Clearly I’m not talking about forts of brick and mortar construction (though kudos if stonemasonry was a childhood hobby of yours), but I’m talking of forts made of cushions, quilts, blankets and pillows, supported by tables, chairs and other assorted furniture. Other key ingredients – torch, books, miscellaneous snacks and general smugness at achieving blissful solitude from nagging parents.

Even at a young age we recognised that sometimes you just need to shut the world out and press the off switch. I was thinking recently about why we don’t try and recapture some of the enjoyment of building forts once in adulthood, and then I realised, I do. My house is my fort. All of the flats and bedsits I’ve left behind me, yeah, they were my forts too. If you’ve ever felt that moment of utter elation when you come through your front door, drop your bag and coat in a heap in the hall and know you don’t have to come out until the following morning… then you’ve got yourself a fort. Turning the key in the door once I get home from work is sometimes my favourite moment of the day. Sayonara world, you are not on the invite list for tonight’s one-person-party of pajamas and popcorn.

Now, clearly I was somewhat devoid of interior design skills as a fort-residing little person (wall to wall Backstreet Boys posters do not a sense of ambience create) but I think we can take some inspiration from the basic tenets of fort-building to create the same sense of cosiness and comfort at home. Turn that key in the lock, and let’s get our fort on.

royal tenenbaums tent

Low lighting

A torch would of course be your atypical fort lighting system but for larger rooms it may be somewhat impractical and some nights, you need both hands for simultaneously shovelling popcorn and operating the remote control. Personally I’m a huge fan of filling the house with candles – some for burning and some for just sitting there and smelling nice. Low lighting always creates a sense of peacefulness so consider mixing table lamps with floor lamps as an alternative to the ‘big light’.  Fairy lights strung around bookcases or bed frames also add an instant, and affordable dose of ‘cosy’.  You could even go all ‘Royal Tenenbaums’ and add a lit globe or a disco ball (okay, maybe not a disco ball).

Blankets and throws

I once read an article about preparing your house for Autumn and amongst some lol-worthy tips about conker garlands there was a suggestion that I’ve since adopted.  ‘Always have a cosy throw or blanket draped over a nearby chair.’  I have a lovely wool blanket I bought from Ikea that’s not only frequently grabbed for when I’m feeling chilly but also adds another pattern and texture to the room when folded and hung neatly over the sofa.  I also recommend hanging blankets over the end of beds for extra layers on cooler nights (or when you want to double up on reinforcements against the world outside).

Calming music

Margot opts for Nick Drake and Rolling Stones records when in Richie’s fort tent in Royal Tenenbaums but you’ll have your own take on the perfect soundtrack to get cosy to. Something maudlin and acoustic always gets my vote but I also love classical music for when you’re feeling too lazy to even listen to lyrics.

Reading material

No self respecting fort is complete without reading material, and making a pot of tea and curling up in a blanket with a stack of magazines has to be the perfect escapism from the world outside.  My favourites are The Simple Things and Oh Comely, full of inspiring words and beautiful photography.

 Have a cosy corner

The beauty of the fort is that you’re in that cosy little space, with all of the things you need within reaching distance.  Now I’m not suggesting erecting a tent in your lounge or putting up a stud wall in order to create a small space to hide away in, but I do like to create ‘cosy corners’ at home.  This might be a comfortable chair with a blanket draped over the back and a pile of magazines next to it, a pile of plump cushions on the corner of the sofa, or a table next to your favourite spot that’s big enough for a teapot and a good book.  Think about light and warmth and build yourself a cosy little nook – perhaps next to a warm radiator where that lovely dusk light hits the room at the end of the day, or place a thick rug in front of a log burner or fire.

candle and enamel jug

One last thing, unrelated, really, to forts or home interiors, but an important one to note nonetheless.  Schedule in some time to enjoy being you, at home in your fort.  For those of you who get that sinking feeling when you look at your diary and realise you’ve scheduled something in every day for the next decade, write it in your diary. Get home, lock the door, and don’t let anyone in (unless you co-habit with a friend or partner, in which case, let them in but perhaps just banish them to somewhere else in the house).  We knew as children it was important, let’s not forget it now we’re all grown up.

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