When designing our sensory room I knew I wanted a platform for the bubble column. The primary reason – to keep it from tipping over, secondly for a comfortable place to sit or curl up and enjoy the bubbles. I looked at many platforms online and in catalogs but I couldn’t find one that would work for us. They were all too expensive, the wrong size/shape and were covered in white (or institutional blue) vinyl. Sensory wise, my kiddos prefer soft fabrics and typically don’t like the feel or “coldness” of vinyl. I didn’t like white – I wanted a darker color that would kind of disappear in low lighting. And I am personally sick of the institutional blue color that every special needs or therapy product seems to come in. So, I decided to make a platform myself…
I used scrap wood (2×6’s) to build a frame. I added support in the middle so the platform would be sturdy and not bounce; and left an area in the back (bottom right in the photo) to hold the base of the bubble column and allow for the electrical cord to go through.
I used wood screws to attach a sheet of plywood on top of the base (ours was 29.5″ inches square). Next, I marked where the column would need to go through the platform and drilled a one inch hole in the middle. Then I could get the jigsaw blade inside the circle and cut it out. I did a dry fit over the bubble column to check placement and size. I wanted to have a little room around the column to allow for upholstering but not so much space that things would get dropped into the crevice. I did have to enlarge my first cut to get just the right fit. Then I sanded all the edges and rounded the corners a bit. I also wrapped the cut out for the column in duct tape to prevent the bubble column from getting scratched.
While it would have been easier to have one large piece of high density foam to use for the cushion, I had several smaller pieces that came as packing material for the crash pit. Since thick, quality foam is quite expensive I decided to use what we already had available (“free” generally wins at our house). I used a little tacky glue to attempt to hold the foam in place after I had it cut and arranged. However, that did NOT work.
I wrapped the top and sides of the platform in quilt batting and attached it with my upholstery stapler which did keep the foam in place.
I found some soft knit fabric and Walmart for $1.50 a yard! I love the gold flecks. Because it is thinner than upholstery fabric, I folded it in half and sewed around the edges creating a two-ply fabric before securing it with the upholstery stapler.
Figuring out how the finish the hole for the column took a little thought…
I poked a hole in the center of the circle, then cut towards the edge making four triangle flaps. I cut a piece of thick black felt into four equal rectangles, then sewed the long edge of each rectangle to the knit fabric, creating a four flaps. Once the flaps were each tucked inside, none of the wood or foam was visible.
I positioned the bubble column where I wanted it, lifted the platform over the top and plugged in the motor.
Two children can fit on the platform…
Mirrors in the corner add so much! Unbreakable acrylic mirrors are expensive as well, so I bought one large mirror for the wall and attached three mirrored trays (with Command Velcro strips) to the bookcase side of the corner. They were only $5 each and I can take them down to use with the light table, building blocks, symetry, etc.
wood scraps for frame: free (on hand)
plywood top: $8.00
foam for seat: free
batting: on hand
felt: on hand
Total cost: $12.50!
Pretty amazing, especially considering that to purchase a platform would be at least $600, and would still not be in the color or fabric that we wanted.