Make A Thing: Rory’s Safe Space

Welcome to a very special guest post for Make A Thing! Here, we make handmade gifts for people! Or ourselves. Or our cats. Mostly our cats.

Header AND TUTORIAL OMG by Rory Midhani

(After I cornered Rory to talk to me for Hearts and Crafts, he also agreed to share this amazingly adorable Safe Space tutorial he has just made! Enjoy! – Hansen)

Sometimes you need a safe space. Sometimes you have to make your own safe space. Here’s a fun and easy way to do that!

1. Find a place for your space. It can be in your garage or an attic or an abandoned building. Somewhere only you would think to go would be best.

safe space 1

2. Clear the space, lay the foundations. Cardboard! Comfy.

safe space 2

3. Now, what you wanna go for here is your basic den structure. Two chairs and a blanket will do, I’m using some crates and a piece of ply wood. Disclaimer: structurally this space is not safe at all, so please be safe in your space at your own risk!

safe space 3

4. Decorations! Make it wonderful! I’m using animal print because I’m classy. Also leopard print is one of the easiest patterns to make. Just paint something yellowish brownish and splodge, splodge, splodge black dots all over it. Some classical columns would be just grand too.

safe space 4

safe space 5

5. Decorate some more! Paint some empowering slogans on bits of cardboard. Keep it simple with things like “U R COOL” or “NOT YOUR FAULT”, or go a little schmancy and put your favourite poem down. Mine is To Be Great by Fernando Pessoa! Y’know I love this poem so much that when my sister was out of the house I painted it on her living room wall. (S’okay, she wasn’t angry.)

safe space 6

6. While your wait for your decorations to dry, make the space all warm and cosy and lovely with cushions and blankets and curtains. Do you have fairy lights? Those would be great. Candles would be a terrible idea, by the way.

safe space 7

7. Signage. Let people know that this is a safe space.

safe space 8

8. Get all the bits and bobs and stick them to your structure with parcel tape and string or chewing gum or whatever fixative you can find. It’s precariously held together but then again so are you and you’re doing okay so don’t worry it probably won’t totally fall apart.

safe space 9

safe space 10

Now you have a safe space! Use it. Use it to talk about your feelings, or not talk about your feelings. Sit in it alone and feel safe. Invite a friend and help them feel safe to talk about or not talk about their feelings, too.

What kind of places have you made into safe spaces?

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Rory Midhani is a narrative & editorial focused illustrator currently based in Birmingham, England. He has had the pleasure of seeing his work exhibited and published in all kinds of (mostly queer) places.

Rory has written 1 article for us.



    I need one of these in my life. The underside of my desk just isn’t adequate any more.

  2. My ex said i built up emotional walls. This seems way less damaging to relationships. I’ll try it next time I’m chillin in an abandoned building

  3. I love this. I put quotes and happy things all over my room but I think a corner specifically designated as a safe space would be wonderful.

    Perhaps other Straddlers would also like to put this poem in their safe spaces, it is one of my favs:

    “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

  4. I love this!! I’ve always been fond of blanket forts…and now I have an excuse to go build one. Right now. Instead of writing final papers. Thank you, Autostraddle! <3

  5. I definitely had a reading space in my closet with stacks of books and gatorade and blankets when I was a kid that I would go to when I was upset.

    Irony is now apparent.

    • Glad to hear I’m not the only one who had that set up as a kid. Now that I’m an “adult” my reading nook is in the corner of my living room behind a big chair and a small cupboard, under my built in bookshelves. It is quite cozy and safe but now seems drastically under decorated, guess I have a new project now!

  6. <3 my own Special People's club for the corner of my apartment where the only member is me and maybe my dog!!

  7. This is so perfect! I wish I could just build a blanket fort instead of writing papers for finals!

    • Build a blanket fort and then write your papers inside it! My friends and I did this once and while I can’t vouch for its effectiveness at increasing productivity, it was the snuggliest finals week ever.

    • Yep. My friends and I did this at midnight in the library during finals a couple weeks ago. Productivity plummeted, but morale was sky-high. Just make sure you have enough light under there to at least pretend to still do work.

  8. I laughed out loud at the disclaimer! When I make my fort I’ll have to be sure it’s a structurally safe space.

  9. As soon as I move into my new apartment, the weirdly large closet in the living room is going to be my safe space. Can’t wait to decorate!

  10. This is so awesome!!! I love this idea so much!!! I tend to make little nests for myself anyway so I love the idea of decorating them. My room in my parents house was my own little cave safe space. Super dark and quiet for those killer migraine days but with a small light over my bed so I could still read my books and get online with my friends.

    Thanks so much for this Rory!!

  11. This is a great idea!! Reminds me of the fort I used to make when I was a kid. I used sofa cushions then, might’ve been a bit more safe. LOL. Looks like a great place to keep my security blanket too.

  12. I’m going to build one for my friend. She has a hard time feeling what she’s feeling- or even giving herself permission to feel. So I’m going to build her a safe space where she can feel and say anything, or just sit around and play Pokemon.

  13. As mentioned in the comments section above by other Straddlers this so reminds me of my fort that I would make when younger; chairs as supports with a ceiling of blankets and a floor of pillows. Lately I could really use having one again … guess I know what the next project will be for the apartment. :)

  14. This reminds me of the spaces I made when I was little to feel seperate and safe from the world. I think this is a great idea for adult me too. Thanks for the inspiration Rory :)

  15. This makes me miss the little closet nests that I used to make when I needed to have some space. We recently gave our youngest a space under the stairs (complete with light, power outlet, and beanbag) that he can escape to when he needs away from his older siblings. He loves it. I kinda want one for myself though.

  16. If I’d had one of these when I was in high school, I probably would never have left it. I mean, assuming I had a chamber pot and my mom came by and threw bagels and water at me every once in a while.

  17. “It’s precariously held together but then again so are you and you’re doing okay so don’t worry it probably won’t totally fall apart.”
    thats real yo, and a great reminder. i probably wont totally fall apart.

    i seriously love this so much i love forts and little places to be and this makes me so so happy. Im definitely gonna do this actually.

    i only wish making everywhere a safe place was as easy as putting up a sign and some blankets. who knows? maybe it is…

  18. i wish my clothes weren’t taking up both closets in my room cause i need this right about now. but apparently i need all of those clothes too, so.

  19. My first thought when I read this was ‘I should totally build one in my office!’ But then I remembered I’m a therapist at a university so that might be a little weird/creepy. Perhaps I will just build one at home instead. :)

  20. AMAZING.
    Late to the party here, but I just fell completely in love with this. ***THANK YOU***

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