"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Another Problem Solved and Isla’s Room Tour

Last year when I shared pictures of Isla’s room and play loft, I received quite a bit of feedback, and from people who I didn’t even know really read my blog! You can go back HERE to look at old pictures of the room. The room had a very cool little play loft that was decorated as a tree loft and the whole room had a woodland animals theme.

I was really uneasy about the staircase when we originally viewed the house, and the inspection revealed that the staircase was done poorly and not at all to code… which I could tell just from spending 5 minutes on it! So it became quickly apparent that we would need to do something about the staircase.

When we moved in, we immediately repainted the room, and Nick and his dad made one HUGE adjustment to the staircase, that bought us some time before we had to decide what to do about the staircase. The balustrades on the stairs were like 2 feet a part, and plenty big for an adult, let alone a 3 year old to fall right through, so Nick and his dad used wire and some fish eye screws and made it at least so that Isla would not fall through while trying to climb up.


This did buy us a little time, as Isla was always SO careful climbing up and down, and Gemma wasn’t even crawling at this point. I was nervous when friends came over, but we usually just kept the kids out of Isla’s room. Then Gemma started crawling and climbing and then her heart’s desire became to get up those stairs! We kept Gemma out as best we could, and Isla was a big help this department… at first, but then she realized that it was fun to play with Gemma up there and stopped warning me when Gemma was in her room or when Gemma was trying to climb the stairs! Don’t worry, Isla did not get into trouble, she is not the parent or responsible for Gemma’s safety, however once I lost her as a valuable resource in keeping Gemma safe, I knew we needed to deal with this BEFORE Baby Shaka’s arrival. I only found Gemma up there one time and halfway up the stairs twice, but that was with constant vigilance, which I will not be able to do with a new born.

Here are all the problems with the staircase, just so you can see that we were not being paranoid.

  • Steps too high and not to code, even for an adult. Also the space between the stairs was too high and not to code, really easy for a small child to get caught on.IMG_3888
  • Yes, that’s me at the stop of the stairs with the revolving fan blade about TWO INCHES from my face! Only a problem with bigger kids and adults, but still nothing to ignore if we were coming up with a better solution.IMG_3890
  • This little beauty of a railing was loose and only attached at the bottom and moved quite a bit when any weight was put onto it.IMG_3891
  • This railing and the one like it on the opposite side came up to Gemma’s chest. Gemma’s chest! Easy for a small child to lean over and fall off.IMG_3892
  • See how the landing is the last HUGE step, and again note how the railing is only attached at the bottom.IMG_3893
  • One last shot of the tower of death!IMG_3894

People were afraid to leave their kids at my house! Nick and I had been throwing around ideas on what do to fix the staircase since we moved in, and we finally decided that the only safe option given our children’s ages was to put in a narrow staircase with each step to code height. We thought it could be done if we added a landing and cut off the top of the closet a little bit. I knew Nick could design it, and probably build it, but he’s busy with work so I finally was tired of waiting for him and started calling contractors. I called four, and managed to get two out to look at it. One contractor was interested in taking the staircase after the work was done, which saved us from having to sell it or take it somewhere. Me calling (and offering to pay people for a job Nick could do himself) finally spurred Nick to draw up the plans on Auto Cad. It became obvious that we didn’t have the space to do that option.

This left two options – redoing the spiral staircase to code and moving the ceiling fan, which still didn’t seem safe with small children OR my suggestion all along, which was to just take down the staircase and not use the loft and then when age appropriate, build a ladder. Nick had been very resistant to the latter option for some reason even though it was the cheapest and easiest. However, he learned about alternating-tread ladders, which he was kind of intrigued by and really wanted to build. Plus we spent many an hour on Houzz.com looking at play lofts and like 98% of them had ladders, NOT staircases.

So then it became just a matter of calling up the contractor to tell him that he was welcome to the staircase if he would just help Nick take it down, and sometime in the future, when we feel it is safe or we move, Nick will build an alternating-tread ladder to access the loft. The girls really don’t need the space now that we have the playroom anyway.

So here is Isla’s room now! Its so clean it almost looks like no one lives in it, but I assure it almost never looks like this Smile. I want to do a little more with the nook that the staircase came out of, and also we need to touch up the paint behind where the staircase used to be, but I am in no rush. The main thing was making sure the room was safe for Miss Gemma!

Here is the updated version of Isla’s room! This bed was Nick’s great great grandfather’s, and we spray painted it hot pink (technically watermelon) the first week we moved in. The side table and the dresser were bought on Craigslist and my mother refinished them. The bedding it Pottery Barn Kids and they don’t carry it anymore, which is such a bummer! I would have loved to have just bought another set for when Isla and Gemma eventually share a room.


We added the little chandelier on the lower part of the ceiling! Smile I bought that frame for $10 at a garage sale and then spray painted it the same color as the bed.


The spot where the staircase was! You can see where we need to touch up the paint, and I want to get a hammock or something for all of those stuffed animals, but that project is low on my priority list right now!


I am so relieved to let the girls play in there and friends come over and not have to worry about anyone’s safety! Yes the play loft was cool, but I do not miss it one bit! Isla was super cool about taking down the stair case too; she understood that we needed it down until we could do something safer. She’s such a sweetheart!

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