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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Home on the range (and the living room floor) - how to build a den

We all have a nesting instinct. Our homes are our castles, which is why it is legal in some countries to shoot an intruder/Avon lady/Jehovah’s Witness.

Everyone needs a place to call their own, but what do you do when you're too young to earn a living and buy a homestead? You build your own!

The good thing about dens is they're not subject to planning regulations and council tax. They're normally only subject to whether or not your mum needs the dining table that day.

Build a den, and you can claim your own private sanctuary - a place where you can meditate, have some quiet time, and play with your Barbies in peace.

Materials -

You can make a den out of almost anything, although there are a few preferred building materials. These include sheets, boxes, and furniture, or for maximum points, a combination of the three.

Use your imagination – you're ideally going for a roof, two side walls and a back wall. For this purpose, a sheet or two draped over a table/two chairs is perfect. If possible you want a front wall with some kind of opening for a door. But this is extremely difficult and should only be attempted by experienced den architects. However, if you're using the sheet method, there's nothing to stop you using another sheet for the front wall, and just climbing underneath it when you want to get in and out. Do not attempt to cut a door in your mum’s sheet – she will not thank you.

Boxes are a good second choice, but they must be huge boxes – think fridge-freezer delivery boxes. Alternatively you can cut boxes up and tape them together to make one large box, if you have really good scissors/an infinitely patient parent.

It's easier to create a working door with the box method, as you can just cut one in. however, be sure to make the door big enough, as getting stuck in it will just result in the whole thing falling over.

Outdoor dens -

Building a den outdoors becomes more common as you get older, although to some people it is standard practise. Popular locations for outdoor dens include -

- in your shed/garage

- in a hole in a big hedgerow (they always seem to do this in books, but I’ve never seen anyone do it in real life, ever)

- your rich friend's wendy house (inviting your rich friend along is optional)

Decorating your den -

Even if you are a boy, you still have to pay some attention to the inside of your den. This is because if you invite your friends round to sit in what is essentially a cardboard box, they will think you're a bit strange.

If space will allow, add some seating. Unless you already have carpet underneath you, flooring is a must (especially if your den is built on grass, as this is a surefire way to get ants in your pants). If you want your den to be homey, cut out a nice window (do NOT do this with your mum's sheets). Lastly, if your den is really big, add a table, around which you will hold all your important meetings.

Things to do in a den -

Obviously, the main purpose of a den is to hold your club's secret meetings. All members of your club must have a password to enter. This is the law.

The first rule of your den – you do not talk about your den.

In the meetings you will discuss important topics such as how to raise money for your club (ideas like “sell my dad's car” and “hold a bring and buy sale for charity – all proceeds go to the club” - both of which are equally unlikely to work).

Keeping intruders out -

This is by far the most important aspect of a den, and as such must be treated seriously. Guns, cannons and boiling oil are illegal when you're a child, which is a shame. Instead you must rely on the following tactics -

- tape a note to your door that reads “KEEP OUT” No one allowed without the password!!!!”

That's about it.

If you're really lucky, your mum will let you have tea in your den, which means one of two things. Either she will bring you and your friends sandwiches and pop to devour at your leisure, or you must eat whatever you can forage, which is usually Claire's half eaten packet of Polos.

Home sweet home!

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