when lazy is awesome

So, I told the Boy I wanted to make the kids a permanent fort… enough of this dragging chairs and bed linens and pillows from near and far every. single. day. only to be abandoned 15 minutes later. NO MORE, I say. Mamma is tired.

I told him I wanted 4 poles and a canvas drop cloth. I told him I would attach the canvas with fabric ties. I told him it could be done for less than $100 and I told him not to get all CURTIS JAMES COMPLICATED on me.

I’d say we did fairly well.

Ladies and (a few) Gentlemen, I present to you the Great TeePee Project of Christmas 2012.  Or, in our house, the PEE-TEE.  Ry has a tendency to reverse syllables. It’s endearing.

teepee collage



7 poles – these were 10-foot curtain rods (1.5″ diameter) from Lowe’s cut down to 8.5-feet $8 each

9×12′ canvas drop cloth – also from Lowe’s at $20

safety pins – $3.20

about 18 inches of rope

drill with a 1/4″ or 3/8″ drill bit


This is really simple, Folks.

Drill a hole through each of your poles 24-inches down. Lay your poles flat and thread the small length of ropes through the holes.  Connect Pole 1 and Pole 7 (or whatever your first and last poles are) to make a complete circle.  This doesn’t need to be wicked tight… a little give in the ropes will allow you to even out the structure easier.

The trickiest part is setting up the structure. Man-handling 8.5′ poles is easiest with 2 people.  Just stand them up and scissor them… 4 to the left and 3 to the right… so you nearly have a large X. Now fan each pole out, in order, around the circle until you have you have the spacing even and you’re happy with the placement.

Now, throw your canvas around the teepee frame just under the rope.  We have ours secured with safety pins for now, and it’s lovely, but you could certainly use heavy-duty velcro or fabric ties.  We do not have the tarp secured at the bottom of the poles. We found it’s really not necessary. I’ve not trimmed the tarp or made it completely circular. For now, the rustic-simple-no fuss method is working for us.  There ARE holes at the bottom of the poles.  These are for connecting the poles at the base and making it so they don’t shift when little feet kick at them or slide down them or rearrange them.  A rope or wire through the bottom poles will make it a more rigid structure.  BUT, we’ve not done that either… the 7 poles are super sturdy and, so far, Gideon-Proof (which is saying something).


  • of course, he bought twice as many poles… which isn’t necessary but is definitely awesome
  • he sanded the poles a bit because it looks nice… AND, he knew it was a safe bet Gus Man would attempt to slide down the poles like a fireman.
  • he cut the tops of the poles of at an angle… because it looks cool
  • he made 2 sets of holes at the top of each pole… one at 12″ and another at 24″.  This allows us to make the teepee bigger if we move it outside where ceilings are not an issue. In the spring, I’ll fit the canvas tarp a bit more and remove the safety pins. Maybe we’ll paint on it, maybe we won’t.
  • there is also one hole at the bottom of each pole 12″ from the floor.  This is for either connecting the poles together (as mentioned up above) or securing the tarp to the poles at the floor
  • As it stands now, with the rope attached at 24″ from the top of the poles, you have a 6-foot diameter footprint that is 5.5′ tall INSIDE at center and 7.5′ tall from base to tip on the OUTSIDE.  We can fit our entire family inside… and have, multiple times… with pillows and blankets for movie night.

The kids love it. It is used for naps and playtime and forts and houses and movies and hide-n-seek and everything else. I fell asleep in it Christmas morn… so cozy 🙂

It’s a hit.  A $75 hit.

And it may be the biggest present they ever receive. Literally.

What was your biggest present as a kid?


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

4 responses to “when lazy is awesome

  • Katie

    We had a very similar Tee-Pee as kids and we played with it all the time. Thanks for reminding me of some good times!

    But my biggest present ever was undoubtedly the Daddy Warbucks mansion dollhouse that I received when I was like 3 or 4.

  • Mandi Watts

    When I grow up, I want to be a cool mom like you!

    When I was a kid, my grandaddy built my sister and I a playhouse, and it was the most perfect thing ever–like our own little house out in the yard. I spent many a happy hour out there! I cried when a tornado destroyed it when I was in Jr. High. I know you and your kids will make many amazing memories in your teepee. We may have to figure out a way to put one up in our loft…

  • Lizzy

    What a brilliant idea! My boys would love this! and when they’re not using it…

  • Margie

    Wow, this is awesome. I growled at the couch fort just yesterday. If I show this to Wayne, we’ll have one, too…

    Biggest present? I don’t know! But perhaps the family microwave when I was a teenager. No – the bike in fourth grade. Yep, I’m sure that’s it.

talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: