How 3M saved the day /aka/ alternative ways to babyproof

In 2004 we walked into the house and we loved the open feel. To a young couple cooped up in a series of white box apartments the vaulted ceiling and the 4 level split was 2x the amount of space we had ever had before. The open feel was largely because of spindle railing between the upper floor livingroom and the main floor living and dining room. We were sold – we purchased the house on my 25th birthday.

Years later with the addition of a child, a child that learned how to walk way too fast, those great open railings became a baby proofing nightmare. Niamh could fit her entire small body between the rails, the day she tried to do that we knew we had to do something asap. This is the scary view through the railing down to the stairs to the lower level, a very bad drop.

The other side of the stairs was just a 5ft drop onto the collection of stuff in the kitchen – less scary but not exactly good. I had about 20feet of hazard to cover. The trouble was, I did not want to lose the open feeling. How to baby proof a railing suggested these ugly and expensive net things http://www.amazon.com/Safety-1st-11796-Railnet/dp/B000056OUX

(the price actually is less now than it was then so that’s nice, but, its only 2 feet long so I would need 10 so nearly 180.00 for an ugly solution that may or may not get wrecked by the cats.

Lars wanted to use a big piece of fabric and that was ugly so we kept thinking. Eventually our solution was Plexiglas/acrylic sheet. Menards sells it by the big sheet so we spent some time figuring out what size sheets would give us the best coverage. We ended up getting 24 x 48 sheets for $24 each, one we cut in half for the smaller section and we had the clear solution.

Then came the next trick, keeping the things up. First thought was to drill holes and tie a ribbon around a spindle. This worked once then the second hole made a big crack. Not something we wanted to risk really, plus, knots can be undone by clever fingers. We tried double sided tape and that worked for about 2 weeks and then at random times we would have a panel crash over. Finally the solution came to me when I was putting up a 3M Command Strip hook for something or other (I use them all over) and I noticed I had a bunch of the extra sticky pads. Since I never intended to remove this particular hook the extras were totally extra BUT those things do stick forever so I thought it was worth a try to replace my sad tape situation. I tried it and it worked! The double cool thing is that its easy to remove whenever the time comes just by pulling down on the tab, I have used this feature on other more temporary command strip uses and it really does come off easily and cleanly.

Here is the finished product guarding the scary drop of doom (and my bird wall art);

The only thing that would improve the setup would be if the command strip adhesive was clear – and maybe 3M makes that, but it was not what I had extra of in my hand.

Hopefully this helps someone out there in the world. Balancing baby and design is not easy but this particular solution just didn’t seem to exist when I was looking so I thought it was time to document.

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