The dreaded baby-proofing! If you have an eye for pretty design and decorations, baby-proofing is like nails on a chalkboard, but if you’re creative enough and think outside the box, you will find that there are options to keep your baby safe and your house still looking fabulous! Today I’m going to share with you my outdoor space makeover, so you can see that you can still have a very functional, aesthetically pleasing space and design it all with your baby in mind! Here are some tips to keep in mind as you are trying to design your outdoor space with your baby in mind:
1) Be Innovative
Having a baby does not mean you need to throw all your style out the window, but it does mean that you probably need to get creative in how you keep it. Let’s face it, if you open up an edition of HGTV magazine and see a beautiful outdoor space, it’s probably filled with large open floor plans, beautiful decor, knickknacks, outdoor plants, and lots of things with sharp edges – but if you are creative you can eliminate these dangers and exchange them for baby safe items.
We too used to have a large open floor plan on our deck, in fact – we actually had a space about 15 feet wide that opened up straight to the pool. It was actually quite nice, you could go out the back door, down two steps and straight into the pool – not one gate!! But now, that’s just way too dangerous, even though my son has taken swim lessons, we still wanted to be sure he could not get to the pool on accident, EVER! So, my mom and I brainstormed one day and we came up with the idea for a sliding gate to close up this very large opening on our deck. I did some research and could not find anything like what I wanted; Pinterest had one image of something similar and it was pretty scary – it looked like cousin Sam came over for the weekend and quickly installed something after his 10th beer. Needless to say, it was not what I had in mind, so I sketched up a picture (I can’t draw at all) to somewhat bring my idea to life and then I called about 5 contractors, 4 of which said, “No, Sara, we don’t do sliding gates – it just won’t work”. Then, the company who built our fence in our yard came though and said they’d never done or seen anything like it before, but they’d give it a wirl ( )
So, long story short, we ended up with two very beautiful, functional, baby-safe sliding gates to use for our outdoor space and it works perfectly!!! When we have adults over, we can slide the gates completely open and you can’t even tell they’re there, but when we have baby friends over, we close it all up and let them roam…it’s beautiful!! I’m so thankful for Gastonia Landscaping for going out on a limb and trying something they’d never done before. Our builder, Manny, was awesome and he made sure everything was built with integrity and safety in mind – he made my dream come to life!! They actually have a video on their site showing how beautifully their design works!! So, now Mason and I often go outside to play in the late afternoon and because we sanded the boards before we stained them, the surface is very smooth and safe and he crawls all around that deck! He loves to pull himself on up on the rails and try to open the latch, but he can’t and that’s the beauty of it! So, the moral of this story is: Don’t let someone tell you no, if you feel that you have an idea that could work – search until you find a contractor who will work with you – I did and I’m so happy I was persistent because I love, love, love how safe our deck is now!!
2) If You Have A Pool, Purchase A Child Safety Pool Fence
Enclose my beautiful pool with some ugly mesh fence? Are you kidding? Yes, those were thoughts that secretly went through my mind as we thought about the safety of our back yard pool. Yes, my son has taken swim lessons, but that does not mean he would be safe, by any means, if he accidentally fell into the pool. Plus, I wanted to be able to send my 5, 6, 7 year old kids outside to play (someday) and KNOW there was no way they’d accidentally fall in. So, we shopped around and explored all the options and costs. In the end, we ended up choosing a company called Protect A Child and they specialize in this stuff. We decided to go with a brown color, to match our decor and within hours this thing was set up. No, its not aesthetically ideal, BUT I do have to say, it’s not bad at all. I thought it would be MUCH more noticeable and its actually quite sheer – you can hardly tell its there most of the time because the mesh is so fine. No matter what it looked like, I knew I had to do it for the safety of my family and that was the bottom line. In the end, I am very happy with my decision and my advice to anyone in this situation is: Go for it, it will look better than you think and it will keep your children safe; in my book, keeping my child safe trumps everything!
3) Add Some Shade
We live in Charlotte, North Carolina and it gets pretty stinkin’ hot down here in the summer. I LOVE to be outdoors and felt trapped when I had to sit inside with the baby during these beautiful sunny days because the sun is too strong and the heat is too much for my little guy. But, I also found a solution to this – a gazebo!! I shopped and shopped and shopped and shopped for hours and hours for the right one. Why a gazebo? Well, our back yard gets a lot of sun and if I created a shaded place for us – it actually decreases the temperature about 10 – 15 degrees! So, I did it! I chose the STC Valencia Gazebo and I was a little nervous about the orange color, but I’m so glad I choose it – it’s awesome!! It’s also huge; measuring at about 11 x 15 feet, it covers about half of our deck and gave me space to create a shaded outdoor living area! Mason and I now go outside to playduring the day, when it’s not too humid, and we don’t have to worry about sunburns or getting overheated! Sometimes we even set up his little blow-up pool under the gazebo and we he loves splashing around! There are tons of gazebos and large umbrellas out there and I encourage any mom who likes being outdoors to look into getting one. They even have them on Craigslist sometimes and they can be really affordable. Aesthetically, I think it’s added so much value to our deck area because it makes the space look more like an outdoor room. I even found an orb chandelier (that I’m obsessed with) to hang inside and I also hung little lights around the inside perimeter so that at night time, it became a little place to sip on some wine and unwind – overall it’s been a great addition to our deck!!
4) Add Safe Pieces
My last bit of advice is to add baby-safe furniture and decor pieces to your outdoor space that make the area seem more like a room. I added an outdoor 4
piece resin wicker patio set along with some really cool beanbag type poufs for seating. Poufs are so “in” right now and they’re so perfect for babies because it’s almost impossible for them to hurt themselves on one. I also added a couple rugs – this keeps my son’s little knees cushioned as he’s crawling around outdoors and our feet from burning up when it’s so hot out! I also added a few little details here and there like a very heavy (unmovable) ball, two outdoor carts that store towels, baskets, sunscreen but also serve as a buffet table when we have guests over. Our dining set has plenty of seating for when we have BBQ’s outside but it’s heavy enough that Mason can’t knock over the chairs on himself. I am all about the “little details” and wanted to give my outdoor space a final little “touch” so I added towel hooks for when we are done swimming in the pool, an outdoor clock and, of course, a bottle opener for the guys when they are drinking non-twist-top beers.
I have to say, I was very apprehensive about changing up our outdoor space and making it baby-proof, but my vision and persistence paid off! I love our space the way it is now 10,000 times more than I did before. It’s perfect for us and I am so glad we did it. Our baby is safe, our space is fun and we enjoy it on a regular basis. Having a baby does not mean you have to give up everything, it just means you have to get creative and change the way you think and do things.
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