DIY Classy Baby Gate

I originally had the privilege of sharing this project on The Incomplete Guide To Living (drop in and say “hi” to Beth over there if you have a minute!). But in case you missed that one, I thought I’d share the details with you all here today.


Sometimes, as a mom, I feel like “baby” and “classy” can’t even be in the same sentence… Am I the only one? But, I am pleased to say, I find this to be one of those paradoxically beautiful things: a classy baby gate.

Since this is our first home with stairs and our older son was almost two when we moved in (and quite adept on the stairs by then), it wasn’t until about eight months ago when our second son began crawling that we had to worry about a baby gate. Unfortunately, due to the shape and location of our banister and post, we didn’t really have a place to secure a traditional baby gate. Fortunately, I have a handy husband.

And since our stairwell is the first thing you see when you walk in our home (you can tour the entryway here if you like), it was important to us that the gate not be an eyesore. So Mr. Pax and my father teamed up to make a two-paneled gate that would echo the original doors in our 1940 colonial.

Though a traditional gate (one that secures on either side and swings open) wouldn’t work, the small gap between the baluster and the next step offered another possibility: a panel that simply slid in its “track”…

It’s a perfect solution for us. We cut a notch to fit the molding.

And put felt strips (the kind you put on the bottom of furniture to protect the floors) along the side and bottom to minimize damage.

We can even slide the entire thing out and hide it in the closet if we want to.

No permanent damage done. Now, for the record, I’m sure this isn’t “approved” on the child safety list. And I definitely wouldn’t recommend having something like this at the top of the stairs where a child can push from behind.  But don’t call CPS on us or anything; the gate has worked like a charm for us. You should carefully consider and test anything you might use in your home to protect your children.  Ok, disclaimer complete. 🙂

Now onto one more picture that I think sums up why I love this: it was a creative solution that I think melds beautifully into the character of our home.

What do you think? Anyone else with an outside-the-box baby gate solution? Or how about you moms out there – when you have managed to combine baby and classy?

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  1. Hmmmm I think this just may have solved a GIANT problem for me. Except I will not be using it as a “human baby” gate but as a “baby St. Bernard Gate”! This is so genius! I love it! P.s. by “baby” I mean 65+ pounds at 11 weeks, she was just walking through the chincy one I bought. Sigh. 🙂

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  3. We live in an old historic home as well and have thought of the same device, but one without much panache. I love the design! Where did you buy the wood? Did it come pre painted, or did you paint it?
    Thanks for the tip!

    1. Thank you so much! We picked up the wood at Home Depot or Lowe’s (I can’t remember which!), and it was all unpainted. A coat of primer and a couple coats of trim paint did the trick. 🙂

  4. Hi Rachel!

    I LOVE this idea! The layout of your home is identical to mine, we have pocketed doors too.
    Exactly as your stairway etc. So I was curious if it wasn’t too much to ask for the measurements of your “baby gate” and a copy cat list of all materials? Prettttyyy please!! lol

    Is this a big piece of plywood? how thick?

    Thank you!


  5. Hi there,

    Could you please share the copycat supply list and measurements?

    It would be a HUGE help! Our home is almost identical!


    1. Hi Ashley, so sorry for the slow reply! I have been looking for our plans, but alas, after two years, we don’t seem to have them any more. That said, it was a basic rail and style construction (like you would use to build a cabinet door). It involved a 1×4 frame, routing a groove into the narrow edge of the 1x4s, and fitting the 1/4″ plywood as an inset. Any chance you guys have a router and the proper tools to do that? If not, you could probably create something with a similar look from the front much more simply (and it would be up to you if you wanted to mess with the back or leave it flat). YOu could start with a piece of 1/4″ plywood cut to fit your opening (ours is 31″ high and 42″ wide… but you’ll want it to be exactly the height to slide under your banister on the stair and the width of the stairs). You can then use simple 1x4s cut to mimic the shape of your pocket doors and glue them onto the front using wood glue and clamps. You could also try some decorative molding instead of 1x4s if you want a bit more interest. Whatever you do, make sure the molding is thick enough to make the “gate” sturdy but thin enough to fit between the balusters on your stairs. I hope this helps!! And good luck. 🙂

  6. It looks like you have a sort of wedge between the back of the gate and the stair near the floor to keep it upright. What is that piece made from / any insights on attaching the wedge to the gate? I’m guessing unless the width of gate is not close to gap width between the baluster and the stair then the wall side of gate may shift with the wiggle room?

    1. Actually, the step above stuck out just the right amount to hold the gate in place, so we didn’t need to attach any extra wedges. You’re right, though, that unless the gate is wide enough to close the gap between the baluster and the stair, it won’t be very secure. You could always add an additional 1×4 to the back of the gate to make it wider on one side if needed. Hope this helps!

      1. The one closeup picture you have looks like theres a little thin flap wedge from the corner of the stair to a few inches up on the backside of the gate

        Appreciate your quick response nonetheless … an elegant solution that seems to otherwise lack very cheap looking products

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