Pumpkin Parade Features + Chalkboard Baby Gate

We had almost a hundred great projects linked up to the Pumpkin Parade last week! Thanks so much to everyone who shared their projects! Since this was my very first time co-hosting a link party, it was also my first time getting to pick features. Which was fun, but also a lot of responsibility. What if I picked the wrong features?!

But I don’t think I did. Mine are pretty great.

And all of my fabulous co-hosts picked some, too, so go check out their blogs for even more pumpkin-spiration (after this post, I can stop making up words with pumpkin in them, which I think will be a relief to all of us).

My first pick is these crafty pumpkins from Little Bits of Home:


Crafty Pumpkins from Little Bits of Home

I like each one individually, but I love how they look all put together in a grouping.

And next up is a great collection of ideas for a preschool Halloween party from Crab + Fish:


Pumpkin-faced party snacks from Crab+Fish

These are just prepackaged oranges with jack-o-lantern faces drawn on. So simple, yet so freakin’ adorable. There are more great ideas in her post….like the also irresistible mummified juice boxes.

All the other features can be found here:

A Little Bite of Everything

Bliss At Home



Shift Ctrl Art

Interiors by Kenz

Newly Woodwards

A Swell Place to Dwell

Wills Casa

Go Haus Go

Decor and the Dog

And I also have a project today! It’s a chalkboard baby gate!

chalkboard baby gate2So sometimes we finish a project, and I think, “this thing we have done is awesome; I can’t wait to post about it!”

This isn’t like that.

We debated for a long time about what kind of gate we wanted for the stairs. Like long enough that Abe had pretty much learned to climb them by the time we finally settled on something.

We are, you might recall, no newbies in the world of baby gate construction. We Dave made one a long time ago for the doorway between our kitchen and sunroom. So I was determined that we weren’t going to wimp out and BUY a baby gate. No way.

We weren’t sure, though, how to handle the fact that there don’t start to be actual walls around our stairs until you get to the 5th step or so; it’s just a banister and spindles before that–tricky for attaching a gate to.

I thought at first that we should just have the gate where the walls start, in sort of a tough love approach to teaching Abe to climb up and down stairs safely. He could still fall down the stairs, just not very many stairs. This made Dave nervous, though. I guess he doesn’t care that we’re totally coddling the children, protecting them from brain injuries and such.

Anyway, what we finally settled on is that….gate-like….thing that you see in the picture up there. Basically, it’s a piece of plywood, framed out with molding and painted with chalkboard paint, that you can slide in between the spindles when a baby’s around or store out of the way when he’s not.

We’ll have to update you in a few months to let you know whether we’re happy with this or not.

Because, I mean, it could turn out like sharpie octopus. Remember sharpie octopus?


Looking pretty good there, sharpie octopus!

Yeah. Now? After 3 months of use?

chalkboard baby gate5

Oops. (In retrospect, I think using an oil based paint pen instead of a regular old sharpie would probably have worked fine. Hindsight. 20/20, it is).

The potential problems I foresee are these:

1. Sliding gate back and forth to get past it is a big pain in the butt. Our arms get tired.

2. Sliding gate back and forth is such a big pain in the butt that we don’t ever do it and just climb over it. This will probably be fine as long as we’re careful. But it could conceivably result in everyone in the family EXCEPT Abe getting the head injury the gate is designed to prevent.

But so far it’s working fine and not driving us crazy. I don’t anticipate it being up terribly long….just a few months until Abe can go up and down the stairs safely.

I neglected to take many pictures of the process here, but it’s pretty self explanatory. We bought a big sheet of plywood at Home Depot and had it cut down to the size we needed (sadly, we had to buy way more than we needed, because our stairs are just a little too wide for the smaller sheets of plywood). We also bought some pre-primed MDF molding to go around the edges.

I thought about painting some kind of design on the plywood, but then I remembered the leftover chalkboard paint and decided to use it, reasoning that this way we’ll have a nice big chalkboard we can use somewhere else (like maybe in Abe’s room) when we’re done with the gate. And in the meantime, I can draw elaborate seasonal designs on a chalkboard that’s right in our foyer. Only this time I got lazy and just wrote “Welcome.”

Dave measured the molding for the border and cut it down at 45 degree angles for the corners. I spray primed the plywood and then painted it with two coats of chalkboard paint. Then Dave sanded down the edges, and I slapped a coat of white paint on the molding.

We installed a hook and eye so that Abe can’t pull it down on himself (it’s not terribly heavy, though, so I don’t think anything too tragic would happen even if he managed to):

chalkboard baby gate6

(This, of course, did require drilling into one of the spindles, but 1. it’s a tiny hole that we can fill in easily and 2. I plan to replace the spindles sooner or later anyway, so I’m not that worried about them).

And there you have it!

chalkboard baby gate3

I think this is the part where you guys think of all sorts of safety issues that haven’t occurred to us, and I, despondent, tell Dave, “we have to take the baby gate down or the internet will call DFACS on us.”

So I will quickly distract you with pictures of my adorable baby before that happens:

chalkboard baby gate1

chalkboard baby gate4

DIY Chalkboard Baby Gate for Open Stairways

Linking with:

The Inspiration Gallery

The Shabby Nest’s Frugal Friday

Link Party Palooza

Monday Funday


Pumpkin Parade Features + Chalkboard Baby Gate — 35 Comments

  1. OMG that last photo. He is soooo cute, those legs and that smile. Love the chalk board idea.
    And you picked great projects.

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  4. He is soooo chunky! I just love it. I think this is actually a really smart way of handling your stairs- no DFACS on my end! We also are having a “we should probably figure out a baby gate thing…” issue. Obviously we won’t need one for a few months but the way our stairs are laid out is still confusing.

    • Stairs are nothing but trouble! Our first house’s stairs were hard to deal with, but they were kind of off in this separate foyer area, so we could just gate off that whole section.

  5. In our last place I mastered jumping from the 6th stair or so to clear the baby gate and land in the living room. SWMBO did not approve. Your chalkboard idea looks great, but are you worried about the finish getting rubbed off the spindles and stairs from sliding it open? I might be tempted to put a slidy plastic thing along the bottom edge to make it more slippy and less rubby. Also, I over-engineer this stuff.

    • I’m not worried about the spindles because it’s just white paint and because I’m not very attached to them anyway. I am mildly worried about the stair itself….if we notice it starting to get scratched up, we’ll probably attach something to the bottom of the “gate.” (Although I do want to have the floors refinished at some point; I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that will be anytime soon, though!)

  6. Those chunky little legs!!! I do like your solution though….like the chalkboard. I stepped over our baby gate for months. How do they expect you to to press 2 buttons and move it out of the way while holding coffee and a baby (which you clearly aren’t supposed to do together..but come on…)?

    • I hadn’t even thought about how we’d likely be stepping over a store bought baby gate all the time, too! Maybe head injuries and babies are just an unavoidable combination 😉

  7. He is too stinking cute. I love that it’s a chalkboard – makes it so much less ugly than normal gates. We still need to figure out something at the bottom of the stairs. We have something at the top, but not the bottom.

  8. At my parents’ they have always used some kind of board through the spindles as a baby gate. It wasn’t as pretty or thought out as yours though! 🙂 It worked well for babies and puppies alike.

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  10. Oh I just want to eat him up!!! He is just so sweet Gretchen! I am not kidding…I wish I could get my Norah and him together…she is my chunky bean…they would be so cute! That gate is awesome!!!! What a great idea!!!! Loving the pumpkins too! Happy weekend to you and the crew!

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  13. What’s the verdict on the chalkboard gate?? We’re thinking of doing something very similar, so I’d love to know if your concerns proved true or not. I’m mainly worried that we’ll constantly have chalk dust all over us from picking it up and moving it.

    • We used it for over a year, and it worked really well for us. He’s outgrown the need for it now. That said, we didn’t use the chalkboard part that often, so maybe it would have been more of an issue if we had….

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