s Easy Custom DIY Baby Gate - The Kim Six Fix
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Easy Custom DIY Baby Gate

It is time to admit that I need to baby proof the house.  The baby is crawling, pulling up and cruising around and everything waist-level and lower is at risk.   The other day, when I caught him making his way up the steps, I knew I needed to install a baby gate.. and I needed to do it FAST. 

I have a huge collection of baby gates and have been temporarily using a compression one at the bottom of the steps, but it was just SO UGLY.  It also was really hard for the older kids to use (they couldn't put it back up by themselves.) Frequently, the kids would run upstairs and the steps would be left ungated.  It is pointless to have an ugly gate hanging around if half the time it isn't even installed.  I knew I could do better and so I decided to design my own.

I had 4 goals for the new gate:
1. It had to be easy to open
2. It had to self-close and latch
3. It had to be comparable in price to a store bought gate with those characteristics
3. It had to be PRETTY

Why #4?  Well, the stairs are the very first thing you see when you walk though my front door.  Even
if you never actually enter my house, you still see my stairs.  I didn't like the notion that the first impression someone was going to have of my house was a plastic baby gate.  (No offense in you have plastic baby gates!)

There are actually quite a few other bloggers who have done their own DIY baby gates, so I had plenty of inspiration.  The thing was that almost everyone went with a "Barn Door" or "Dutch Door" style.  My living/dining area, which is right off the stairs is transitional/traditional.  A barn door wouldn't really match, so I went with an alternative, simpler look.

First thing I did was measure the width of the stair opening and drew up a schematic of what I wanted.  My opening was EXACTLY 40.5 inches. I drew the gate blueprints with those same dimensions knowing that I would actually mark and cut the board in place, but when buying the lumber I wanted to make sure I had enough.  

I measured from the top of the baseboard to the bottom of the stair rail.  Once again, I didn't know if I actually wanted the final gate to be that tall, but it is always easier to cut down the board than to add on.   This meant I needed a 28 inch x 40.5 inch piece of plywood.  I arbitrarily decided on 6 inch wide trim boards, and did the math to determine I would need 2 that were 28 inches long and 2 that were 24 inches long.

What I actually ended up buying at Home Depot was the following:

After getting the board home, I held it up in the opening and marked it exactly 1/2 inch shorter than each wall.  (I personally find it easier to work with marks than with a tape measure, but YMMV.)  I used a circular saw to rip down the plywood.   I decided that I liked the exact 24 inch height, so I didn't need to cut anything off the top or bottom. 

I cut the two vertical trim pieces to 24 inches and attached them with my brad nailer.  Lastly, I marked and cut the vertical pieces and attached them. 

At this point (before paint) I decided on where I wanted the hanging hardware and pre-drilled the holes in the gate.  I settled on some decorative 4 inch black heavy-duty hinges (mainly because they were in stock at the store): $9.34
I temporarily attached the hinges to the gate in order to mark where they would attach to the wall.  I needed to make they would be screwed into a stud (I actually lucked out.)  If I hadn't hit a stud with all three screws I would have had to use some heavy duty wall anchors, since the gate is H-E-A-V-Y!

To give the top and bottom edge of the gate a finished look I added 7 linear feet of oval casing molding, since the edges of the boards and plywood were really rough. ($9.31)

After filling the nail holes, caulking the seams, and a light sanding, the gate was ready to be primed and painted:

To add some interest (since I didn't want a plain flat-panel door) I added some beadboard wallpaper to the inset section:

I already had the wallpaper laying around from another project.  You also could have used actual beadboard, or another decorative textured wall paper depending on the look you are going for. 

Once the paint was dry, I hung the door and then attached the latch.  I decided on this gate latch because it was easy to use, and automatically 'locks' whenever the door is closed.  ($4.24)  No need to remember to latch the gate.  

And here is the final project:

From the back side:

Of course this is the real test:

How does it stack up to my goals?
1. It had to be easy to open
2. It had to self-close and latch
3. It had to be comparable in price
3. It had to be PRETTY

Really good if you ask me:
Commercial gate available here

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