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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

DIY: Play Teepee

If you've been reading here for some time, you might remember that I promised the boys that I would make them a teepee, ahem, about six months ago. I procrastinated for awhile, then bought a pair of canvas dropcloths to kickstart my motivation in late October. Then I came home and stacked the dropcloths on top of our dryer (which is where things that have no place in our house go to die) and didn't look at them again until about mid-December, when, in the midst of my morning sickness haze, I forced myself to finally make the teepee happen.  It wasn't exactly noble--we had decided to designate it (and a little playroom makeover) as the boys' big Christmas gift, and so if I failed to deliver, we were going to be walking the aisles of Toys R' Us at midnight on the 24th. So this teepee became my sole DIY project of the entire Christmas season. Here's how it turned out.

The coolest part of the teepee, without question, is Jim's contribution: poles made from a fallen tree that he dragged out the woods, sanded (lightly), and coated with polyurethane spray paint. After preparing the poles, Jim used hemp rope to tie them together with a "teepee knot." Incredibly, he knew how to do it off the top of his head (I confess that in seventh grade I thought Jim's boy scout uniform was a little dorky--now I know better). My part was less inspired, and very much a process of trial and error. That, and the fact that my tummy was rolling at the time, is why I don't have a tutorial for you. I will say, however, that I essentially cut three identical triangles plus one more cut into halves out of two Home Depot dropcloths. Then I stitched them together at the sides, hemmed the top section, and closed the front of the teepee halfway by joining the two half triangles. I made careful measurements along the way and even used the pythagorean theorem to determine the length of the triangle's long sides, but it was really all for naught--the poles configure slightly differently every time we put up the teepee and the canvas always seems too big, which actually doesn't matter a bit. I painted the pattern with fabric paint. All in all, I think the teepee turned out really well--and I love the way the colors fit in with the rest of the playroom. Plus, I'm thrilled with the savings! This teepee from Land of Nod was my alternative--for about $130 more.

The playroom itself has been a slowly evolving project. Really it's mostly an amalgam of pieces, pulled from other spaces to create a happy, flexible place for the boys to play. To give it a boost for Christmas morning, we moved in the bright yellow roman shade from Little Brother's nursery and added this punchy cotton rug from West Elm. The coral and white give the room a huge dose of energy without clashing with the other colors, and I love that they make the whole space feel very gender neutral (the house doesn't have to scream boy, right?). Many of the other little details are homemade: Jim constructed the open shelving years ago to frame Big Brother's first big boy bed and diy-ed the wooden plaque to mount our stuffed giraffe (a gift from B. Braithwaite here in Atlanta). The fabric garland, hanging red and white firecracker, and You Are My Sunshine art were little projects of mine. The table and chairs are from IKEA, the storage bins from Target, and the roman shade made mostly by my mom in an effort to teach me how to sew before Little Brother was born. Thank goodness some things have changed in three years!

I still have plans for the blank walls, but they may have to wait on the room's next iteration--playroom PLUS shared boy's bedroom. Whew, we're getting tight in here! I'm going to have to get really creative, people (and the teepee may become the center piece of our living room). Let me know if you have ideas.

Have a happy Wednesday!


  1. I have been wanting to make a teepee for my little boy for his playroom, as well. Thank you for sharing how you made yours! Super cute!

  2. i love this!! your playroom looks like it should be in a magazine too;)

  3. Love this playroom! You've done an amazing job :)

  4. I love this room - found it through Pinterest - but I find the prized mounted giraffe head in really bad taste :-(