July 28, 2005

Safety Gates For A Loft?

The hilarious, loft-dwelling Metrodad writes with a question: "We're searching the net for a cool-looking baby gate. We need a wide one (at least 8' feet) to divide our loft and keep the kiddie safely self-contained. Unfortunately, Messrs. Eames, Van der Rohe, Nelson, Rashid and Starck have yet to design one. All the ones we see are those cheap plastic ones that are just plain ugly. Any ideas?"

park-a-kid.jpgMy first thought was, "Good luck with that, everything I've seen is fugly." And since we use a combination of doors and constant chasing around, I haven't felt the pressure to find a cool-looking gate.

Then I thought, "Well, Mies and Nelson are dead, but Eames did make a half-height (34") molded plywood screen for a couple of years in the 50's... If you could find them, two of the 5-ft screens'd probably run about $10-15K."

Then I remembered seeing the Kid Safe Driveway Guard, a mesh fence that seems designed to make a kid wander 15' sideways onto the grass before they wander into traffic. I have no idea if this'd work stretched, tennis-net-style, across a room or a really wide doorway.

And my last idea comes from the Danish company BabyDan. They make a wide variety of normal-sized gates and hearth guards, but the excellently named Park-a-Kid (above, also known in the UK as the Baby Den) can take various shapes, from a hexagonal playpen to a room divider. It comes in silver, white, or black metal.

Any other ideas? Because if we don't come up with something, Metrodad may be forced to put his kid on a leash.


This one I wouldn't call cool by any stretch of the imgagination, but it is huge and at least it is plain - it could work work in a loft. Maybe.


Those remind me of the ones used in parades. [Hey, those are free. At night. -ed.]

Okay, it's sold as a dog gate, but it's solid hardwood, and with the extension panels it has a maximum length of 8'.

We use a nicely designed wooden cage to store our kid in. A.k.a a playpen. We did a lot of searching online and found 1!!!! wooden playpen. Having grown up in the land of uber strollers where wooden playpen are as common as, well, uber strollers, this was mind boggling. Granted I had to make some modifications to make the floor height adjustable, but it does a great job of keeping the kid out of trouble and it stores most of his toys. The raised floor allows him to look out the window at passing cars, which can entertain him for up to 15min. It's on wheels so we can wheel it around a bit. Off course we mainly use it when we really need to get something done, like cook dinner or get ready for work in the morning. [link? -ed.]

The dog gate IS a baby gate, I thought it looked familiar and it's the very same one I've been looking at for a large awkward area in our house.

So, totally baby safe. Add-ons cheaper at the baby store, main gate cheaper at the dog supply.

I bought a Park-A-Kid the other day here in Moscow. Around $200 (everything here is 2X more than elsewhere in the world). Looks great. Also picked up a tent for later.

Here's a review of a kid-friendly play pen. It's not a gate, but serves the same purpose if you make the pen big enough.

The "Little Playzone" has red, blue and yellow gate pieces and an entertainment panel. [from the review: "The real, useable interior space as I measured it is 45.6 square feet, or 6.75 feet on each side." This feels like the size of our hotel room in Tokyo. grr. -ed.]

Community Playthings makes a multi-configuration-able wooden gate/pen/divider thing. The new ones are kind of ugly, but vintage ones can still be found. [that looks pretty sweet, actually. -ed.]

Not for a loft space for if anyone wants a plain door gate that is simple and modern this one [at Blooming Marvellous, UK] is really nice.

We live in a lofty/condo dealy and we have one of the ones mentioned by others; it works well, we had to adapt the attachment on one end because there was no way to attach the hardware to a galvanized tubing stair rail (so off code as to be borderline criminal...) Actually, depending on the size of hole people are trying to secure I've got pictures of our fairly successful Lucas proofing setup... You can see pics here.

Basically the set up is some 4" by 4" treated cedar posts (usually used for fence building) with notches cut in them to receive the vertical posts of the stair rails, and a length wise groove cut in to receive the plexi. We then attached both parts to the stair rail with hardware from Home Depot (metal plates with screw holes, U shaped hardware with threading on both ends, the metal strapping that plumbers use, and some nuts and bolts. All of it is removable (something that the people who just bought our house probably love), none of it goes into any existing stuff in the house.. and Lucas can't get through it..

A note about drilling plexi, run the drill backwards and use friction/heat to do the hole

Good god, I do run on... I need to talk to adults mb.

is pressure-treated wood okay to use where kids can chew on 'em? I remember when building the box garden they said not to use pressure-treated because it is chock-full of chemicals that can leech into the soil.

Thanks for the suggestions, folks. Keep 'em coming.

Cam...loved your idea. Unfortunately, having grown up in NYC, my building skills are limited to birdhouses and clay ashtrays. Building an awesome guard like yours would be on the same level as me building a house. Living here, all I have are a screwdriver and my super's cell phone number. But if you're ever in town and feeling a little handy...

We also live in a loft and we used this to partition a safe play area for our 11-month old active son. For more info on this product, check out http://store.babycenter.com/product/safety_baby_care/safety/gates/3083?stage=&lnprev=
In fact, I have 4 extras for sale. They are brand-new, in the box. $30/piece, a $4-$5 discount from what you often see from online sources. Please let me know if you are interested. We are in NYC also.

here's the link to the wooden playpen I mentioned.


As mentioned I added "H" shaped blocks in the corners along with a plywood floor to raise the floor. This plywood floor is covered with a playpen rug/mattress/duvet thing we bought in Holland where these things are very common. Here's a link to a dutch store that has a variety of playpens and playpen rugs. http://www.babypaleis.com/Scripts/prodList.asp?idCategory=137

Not sure if they will ship to the US.

I think it's critical to be able to raise/lower the floor of the playpen. At least if you value a life without backpain. Imagine picking up your infant from a crib on it's lowest setting.

A few days late, but I just came across this online:


For the not-modern set.

Another source...Community Playthings [mentioned already, I think, but still good. -ed.]

looks good but i think it get in the way in the living room !


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