Tuesday, September 01, 2015

How I Made a Baby Gate that Wasn't Hideously Ugly

Very little time passed after I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test before I thought, "We need a gate for the stairs!"  The presence of a certain weiner dog who likes to sneak upstairs and pee on Mattie's piles of clothes on the floor only confirmed that thought.

But I hate the typical baby gates you find in stores because not only are they ugly, they are often frustrating to use.  So I started thinking about a gate we would actually like and actually use. It took me a year to come up with the design, and the ideas REALLY jelled when I stepped out to the garage for a second and came back to find Whimsy standing at the top of the stairs with a proud grin on her little face.

Here's how I did it:

before painting and attaching 
I bought two unfinished wooden picture frames from Hobby Lobby. These come without glass and I managed to find them on a day when they were on sale, half off.  ($18 total)

I then decided to use radiator screen which comes in a about a 3 x 4 foot sheet at Lowes.  This was the most expensive part ($28), but I like the way it looks, and even when Whimsy is bigger, we still need the deterrent for the dog, so we'd be living with it a long time.  I also had to buy tin snips to cut this, but I knew I would use them again in other projects.  ($10)

I also got a strip of wood, about 1/2 inch thick and 3.5 inches wide from the lumber aisle.  ($2.50 each) These are pre-cut in smaller, crafting sizes.  I got several sizes, thinking I might need to reinforce the back of the tin sheets, but they turned out to be unnecessary.  Just one strip was used in the final project to attach the whole thing to the wall.  I had a hook and eye closure in my junk drawer from some other project.

Lastly, I needed two piano hinges.  I knew I wanted the gate to fold and fit behind the narrow wall beside our stairway.  ($5 each)

The frames proved to be too large to use side by side, so I cut one down using a miter box and saw.  I was able to simply hammer the corner brackets back in to hold the corner in place like the original corner of the frame.  I then cut the metal sheeting to fit inside and stapled it in place.  It would have been easier if I had painted the frames first.

Figuring out how the hinges should fold took a while, but I eventually got them where I wanted them.  The only thing I didn't like was the possibility of Whimsy's fingers getting pinched as the hinges folded flat in the open position.  I used a small strip of molding and glued it with my trusty E6000 over the edge, covering the seam to keep her fingers out of it.

I attached one hinge to connect to the strip of wood that attached to the wall on the side of the stairs with the spindles and railing.  I painted it white to blend in with the wall.  The next  hinge attached the two frames together.

Lastly, I used a hook and eye to close it. I wish I could have attached it to the back of the gate, but the studs in the wall did not line up quite right.  It's not a perfect closure, but it is high enough that Whimsy can't reach it just yet.

And this is why we are all very good about keeping the gate closed!

1 comment:

Rebeckah Leatherman said...

Your creativity is astounding. Brilliant!

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