– CHILD PROOFING – not an Architectural Band Aid


Child proofing with style. Child proofing a custom home with open stairwells and railings can present unique challenges when trying to accomplish the task without sacrificing style. The request of the homeowner was to add childproofing that would not detract from the original design or essentially disappear. Due to the size of the home, it was decided to isolate certain areas instead of childproofing the entire house.

The elegant entry foyer of the Vinnakota residence was made safer for the youngsters by employing multiple strategies.


Vinnakota Residence Warren, NJ – Main Foyer
Designed by g_space in 1992. The residence was finished in 1996

Since the railings are horizontal bars, they are a climbing hazard. The problem was addressed by applying clear polycarbonate sheet as  shielding over the open rails. Polycarbonate was chosen because it is stronger and more flexible than Acrylic sheet.  In keeping with language of the detailing in this house stainless steel acorn nuts with mallable iron brackets were used to attach the plexiglas.

Polycarbonate sheet applied over 2nd floor railings in corridor


Polycarbonate sheet applied to railings in the corridor that overlooks the greenhouse space

Other openings in the Main Entry stair well have sills at 18″ above the floor. Here plexiglass in an aluminum channel frame with a matching painted steel top rail were installed to complement the existing railings.

Polycarbonate sheet with aluminum channel frame and steel top rail for reinforcement.
Main stair well

The main stairwell was best protected with bifold gates constructed with welded steel angles and perforated stainless steel panels. The paired bifold design was chosen since it was the least imposing way to accomplish the enclosure of the 5′ wide opening. SInce these stairs are not used by the grandchildren, the area was sectioned off to avoid having to protect all the stairwell railings and stair riser openings.

Top level Main Stair Entry Foyer
Bi Fold gates with Maple top rail


Bifold Gates at base of Greenhouse stairs

Doors to bedrooms and bathrooms needed to be locked from the outside. Instead of drilling and adding thumb bolts above the latches we discovered that we could use the privacy bolt in Omnia locks.By simply boring a larger hole on the escutcheon plate the emergency access could be used as a external means for locking the doors. G_space fabricated simple keys to make the locking easy. Since all doors were installed with the Omnia narrow escutcheon plate the same privacy bolts were added to closets and other doors with passage latches that need to be secured. This approach maintained the simple elegant proportion of the door and lockset.

Custom Maple 3 panel door designed for the Vinnakota residence.
Center rail was widened at one side as a place holder for the lever lockset


Omnia Lockset with emergency access hole bored out to 1/2″ from 1/4″
Brass plugs can be inserted when the child proofing is no longer needed

All components were fabricated in g_space studios using Low voc painted steel, Aluminum channel, 1/4″ Polycarbonate sheet, White Maple top railings milled to match existing railings.

Leave a Reply