We are not extreme babyproofers by any means, we cover the major hazards and teach E about safety and boundaries. Things I think are important are gating the top of the steps, outlet covers, winding up your blind cords, and an oven lock. I also think if you have a climber that sercuring bookcases to the wall is a good step. We secured our bookcase to the wall in our dining room long before Eli came along, because it is tall and skinny and has fallen once. We also lock the cabinet under the sink where we keep cleaning products, and just teach E that he is not allowed in other cabinets. There is one he is allowed in.
When we bought our house, I loved the stone fireplace in the living room. It added some character. I debate painting it white sometimes, but overall love the look of it. However, when E started crawling, I knew right away there were two problems with it.
1. It sticks out two feet into our living room. It is impossible to avoid and takes up a lot of space.
2. It has ROUGH edges. The scuffles between E's face and the hearth were many, and frequent. I knew we had to do something.
Our house was not big enough for the gate-around-the-fireplace. Those sticky corners dont stay on, and the uneven edges of the stone really ruled them out. We don't use our fireplace- our living room is small, we hung a TV above the fireplace, and we know our home inspection revealed a few chimney issues that we have not resolved. We put some candles in it and call it a day!
When I came up with the idea to temporarily upholster it, I think hubs and my dad thought I was nuts. I wanted a wooden box that fit over it (not attached) and a padded seat on top. It would serve two purposes- protecting E from the two-foot wall of stone jutting out into our 10-foot wide living room, and providing a play surface.
We started by my dad building a wood frame that covered the top, front, and two sides. it's like a box with the back and bottom missing. It is not attached to the fireplace, it just rests on top of it. Its heavy, and E cannot move it. If you wanted to attach it, you could use L brackets.
Once that part was done, I considered different ways to cover it. I knew E would want to play on it, so I wanted to cover the whole thing with foam initially. That was very expensive. So I opted to cover the top with foam, and wrap it about two inches down around each edge. You can piece the foam together, so don't feel like you need a piece that long...see the skinny strip along the back? I just made sure I had enough square footage. I got the foam at JoAnn Fabrics. it is 3/4 inch foam.
Next, I wanted to at least offer some padding to the whole thing, at least so the fabric didn't rip from rubbing on sharp wood. I covered the whole thing in batting, and wrapped it around the edges and the bottom. I also secured this with a staple gun. It took a lot of staples. Like five ZILLION.
Then, to cover in fabric. I scored an awesome sale on outdoor fabric. It's usually pretty pricey but I wanted it because it is really stain and water resistant. You could also opt for vinyl, pleather, or a heavy canvas. I would not just use cotton fabric, unless you're going to do a backing also.
Wrapping it to make it look nice wasn't too tricky. Start just like a present, with the top and front first. Wrap around the bottom edge and the back edge (along the bricks). I actually stood it up on its end to do this part.
This project is NO SEW. Hooray. I like easy. I was determined not to sew. For the ends, I also did it like a present, tucking the fabric into a hospital corner type fold, then stapling. Make sure to pull it tight. None of the staples are on the visible part of the fabric, they are all on the underside.
This has been in our home over a year now. Its a road for cars, Its a table for snacks, its a platform to look at books. It's held up really well. If we want to lift it off for company, or to use the fireplace (for candles, or if you actually use your fireplace), it really just picks up and lifts off. Disclaimer though: we don't lift it off for company. All of our company usually bring little kids with them. So we leave it.
The stain fighting ability is amazing, nothing seems to stain it. I use the wand attachment when vacuuming to clean it, and sometimes just a light sponge.
My ONLY complaint is sometimes toys fall into the fireplace. Since its all cleaned out its not a huge deal, but I guess if yours is full of ashes that would suck. Although, even without this, you know your kid will drive cars on the stone and they will fall in. So...its not a big deal.
E loves it, and in our small living room it was really the perfect solution. This is the first day he was exploring it.
There's not this many toys on it anymore since we turned our third bedroom into a playroom for now. But as you can see, its a great place to get stuff out of the way and clear up floor space.
Someday, there will be a time again when I have my picture-perfect home again with no toy clutter and no need for babyproofing. I am in no rush for those days to come, and think this is an attractive and practical solution to a small space with a large stone wall jutting out into the middle of it.
What are some ways you have had to get creative with baby proofing?