Family Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

Text and how-to images by Gabrielle. Family portraits by Sarah of Modern Kids. | This post is brought to you by Lowe’s Home Improvement — they have everything you need to tackle your own weekend projects, just in time for Memorial Day!  #springiscalling

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There are 3 reasons I’m super excited to share this project with you. 1) It’s awesome! I thought of it last fall, and the whole idea still makes me grin. 2) I’ve been sharing behind the scenes peeks on the Lowe’s Instagram stream for the last few days and it’s fun to get to finally share the finished photos. And 3) We haven’t had family photos taken since the Vintage Car photo shoot in France — 3 Christmases ago! We were long overdue and this was a great excuse/opportunity.

Sarah of Modern Kids did the portraits. She also did our French Greys portraits back in the day. She lives here in the Bay Area and it’s been wonderful to be able to work with her again!

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   Betty Family Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

The idea for The Family Swing Project came to me last fall. We had just started to get to know our yard, and Ben Blair pointed out how pretty the view of the stream was from under this particular tree. He mentioned we should hang a swing so someone could relax and take in the view.

I loved that idea and looked up to consider where a swing should go. And when I looked up, it hit me that there were a ton of options — ten or more branches growing horizontally.

There was a lightbulb moment and all of a sudden I could picture our whole family spending a warm, lazy evening under the tree — each child in their own swing, and Ben Blair and I sharing a bench swing. We could sway and chat and listen to the stream, and just be together.

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   OscarFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

This vision has been stuck in my head for all these months, and this last weekend, we decided to bring the vision to life!

Ben Blair was the how-to master mind. He figured out how to build the swings and get them to swing properly. I’ve included a complete photo tutorial when you click through, so you can see what he came up with (and in case you’d like to build your own swings!).

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   RalphFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

They’ve only been hanging for a few days so far, but they are already a major draw for the kids, for their friends and for the cousins. It’s easy to see they are going to provide hours of entertainment, and a bucket full of memories for our family.

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   MaudeFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design MomBlair Family Portrait in Swings   |   Flora JuneFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

We hung the swings at different heights — one particularly low swing was hung especially for June. And all but two hang from their own branch. The bench hangs from the sturdiest branch and we tried to sort of center it — with the other swings hanging around it.

The project turned out wonderfully, and it feels good to have made a bit more progress in the yard. I already said this, but the whole thing still makes me grin!

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   OliveFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design MomFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

Man oh man, I like those kids.

Would you like to learn how we built the swings? Keep reading.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Are you ready for a project? Here’s a photo tutorial of how we put together the swings. We started with redwood boards that we had cut to size at Lowe’s. We had some boards cut to 24″ and some boards cut to 20″ to accommodate the different sized people in our family.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

We measured in 1.5″ from each side.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Then we clamped the board to our work table. We used a scrap piece of plywood underneath the board that we could drill through, and we added an old rag to the top of the board to prevent an imprint of the clamp.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

We further secured the board with 2 more hand clamps.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Then it was time to drill. We used a 1/2 inch bit, because our rope is 1/2 inch thick.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design MomDIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Tada! Drilling done.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Next, we went over the edges of the board, and any rough spots, with a palm sander.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Now that the boards were prepped, we turned our attention to the ropes. To prep them for hanging, we used some very specific hardware — all found in bulk bins at Lowe’s (all but the carabiners, that is).

Adding metal inside the rope keeps the rope from fraying or wearing down from hours of swinging.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design MomDIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design MomDIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

And this hardware keeps the ropes in place and allows you to adjust for length.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Then, we added a carabiner (we ordered these online).

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design MomDIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

The carabiner then attaches to an o-ring screw.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

And the screw goes into a sturdy branch.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

This is what it looks like all put together.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Next, it was time to attach the ropes to the boards. We measured the rope, then taped it off with a piece of white duct tape. Then we cut the rope in the middle of the tape.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

We used a lighter to melt the rope ends, to prevent fraying. (This step is optional depending on what type of rope you are using — obviously, if you go with cotton rope, don’t burn it!)

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design MomDIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

We then threaded the taped + burnt end of the rope through the board.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

We tied a knot under one side of the board (we used a bow-line knot). Then we leveled the board, and tied the second knot.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Once we were happy with the leveling, we taped, trimmed and burnt the end of the ropes that hang below the knots.

That’s it! If you get this far, it’s time to start swinging.

DIY Swing Tutorial   |   Design Mom

Happy building! And hey, if you get a chance to make these, or try any modifications that improve the swings, we’d love to hear about it!

P.S. — Like to make things? Find lots of tutorials, projects and crafts here. For more posts about The Treehouse, go here.