Custom Stairway Gates

custom salvaged wood and copper piping staircase gate via AtticmagA collection of handcrafted custom gate ideas.

Our three children were in college when we built our Alabama Stone Cottage. The framers asked (more than once) why I didn’t want a door at the top of the stairs. I explained we had a dreary basement in our last home of 20 years – this one has a lower level. Closing off the stairs would make a big dent in this open and accessible feature. Fast forward six years, through graduations and a wedding.  As soon as DD2 announced she was expecting, and the Eclectic-Gender Neutral Nursery was ready, thoughts of his and future grandchildren crawling, walking and running around the house started a search for gate ideas.  The stairway is wide and the opening is arched to mimic the kitchen entrance to the left. The coat closet is directly across from the stairway and the wide door going to garage is to the right. I searched the internet for pre-built wooden baby and pet gates, but everything I found that would fit would stick out like a sore thumb. I wanted the gate to blend in with the rest of our home. I considered numerous options to rework: a pair of vintage shutters, cutting down a vintage door, repurposing an iron gate, decorative metal sheets, metal scissor gates and vintage elevator doors. It was sort of like The Three Bears — pieces I found were either too big or too small, never just right.

custom salvaged wood and copper piping staircase gate via AtticmagThen along came Larry.  I emailed him pictures of rustic garden gates, and he promised he could build us a sturdy and safe gate using salvaged wood and copper piping that would keep Baby J upstairs, but still be pet-friendly allowing our three cats slip downstairs for their daily naps.  A perfect gate would have been able to slide to the left when opened, in front of the wall.  As luck would have it, the wall is not quite wide enough.  Larry came up with a great solution – build a gate that appears to be a pair of gates when closed,  but is hinged so it folds against the wall when open.  He used old hinges for their patina. It’s mounted just above the baseboards to give the cats space to slip under.  We’ve gotten in the habit of leaving it closed 24/7 and I really like the secure feeling it gives when going out to the garage.  I’ve already started watching etsy for the perfect set of vintage strap hinges and/or decorative handles.  The hunt is part of the fun and I’ll update the post when they are discovered.  Dubya and Coco [top] approve of Larry’s handiwork.  Baby J will be walking soon, and our first granddaughter, Baby E, is due in June.

custom iron pet friendly gate via AtticmagHere is custom pet-friendly iron gate that keeps the dog out of the cat food bowls.  We contemplated a similar design that spaced the copper pipes to allow the cats to walk-thru… but two of ours are rather large and we decided the gate would not be baby friendly.

custom wood staircase safety gate via AtticmagCustom gates are an easy addition to new construction and pre-built homes. This gate features a small wheel underneath the end that swings open, which helps keep the weight evenly distributed.  The sliding hinge mechanism on the gate allows it to be easily removed when not in use.

salvaged wood panel door cut down to half door via AtticmagThis homeowner simply cut down a wood panel door, similar to a Dutch door but without the top half.  We had a stairway like this in our last home.  Stairs that led to an attic eventually led the way to an added master suite.  The door was removed and the stairway was left open.   Be sure to check your local building codes, as we were told this was considered a hazard during a fire emergency and, therefore, against code.  That said, it is a charming option in the right location.

custom rustic painted staircase gate at Rachel Ashwell The Prairie B&B via AtticmagA more rustic version looks like a simple panel that swings open.  Knowing the owner, none other than Rachel Ashwell of Shabby Chic, she spotted it during one of her antique outings when shopping for The Prairie B&B.

custom modern wood slat staircase safety gate via AtticmagThis contemporary wooden slat gate is reminiscent of a MCM slat bench.

custom wood and wrought iron staircase safety gate via AtticmagThe wrought iron motif of the hand railing is repeated in this custom wood and iron gate.  Designing a gate might take awhile with all the hand forged metal art and decorative parts, balusters, and panels available.

custom wrought iron staircase safety gate via AtticmagThis one is very simple, and lays against the wall when not in use.  One concern I had in our space was that no one coming in or out be fooled by the gate.  I didn’t want it too low – afraid that someone might lean to far and tumble over the top.  We found that chest high was much better than waist high.

custom eclectic wrought iron staircase safety gate via AtticmagGreat example of modern, yet traditional. If you can dream it, someone can build it.

custom iron mesh panel staircase safety gates via AtticmagContinuing staircases need more than one gate, and sometimes adjustments to the existing railing as well.  Here, blackened steel tubing and mesh panels were created and attached with custom hardware.

custom modern staircase gate via AtticmagWhile I like this design, they must have dogs instead of children… as the first thing I think of is a child climbing up and over the horizontal bars.  This gate also has a wheel for operational ease.

custom color block staircase safety gate via AtticmagA colorful Piet Mondrian style design is sure to please art lovers and children.  This could be fashioned from painted wood or transparent colored plexiglass sheets.

Although we all want our homes to be beautiful, of course we want our family, guests and pets to stay safe.  If you are adding a baby or pet gate to your home, be sure to read the suggestions at Safety Gate Standards at

For more pet friendly ideas, don’t miss Built-ins For Pets.  And if you’re a Shabby Chic fan, be sure to read An Interview with Rachael Ashwell.

(Sources: Jezroc Metal,, Internet, Holly Mathis Interiors, Blue Ant Studio, JD Stairs, HC Metals, Martel Fab, MILKdesign, Dijeau Poage Construction)

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20 Responses to Custom Stairway Gates

  1. laxsupermom May 14, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    I like that last Mondrian inspired one for a contemporary home and am sending a link to a friend who just moved into her nearly completed super contemporary home.

    Love your new gate! I like how it looks like a double gate and can’t wait to see which latches you find for it. Congrats on the grandbaby! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Michele May 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    What a wonderful assortment of attractive alternatives to use to protect stairs and other openings!

  3. Scribbler May 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    Wonderful idea! Now if I could just get rid of stairs altogether in my house, I would be very happy.

  4. Brandi May 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    Love your new gate. Such a good idea to have it in place for your grandchildren.

  5. RHome410 May 15, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    All of these are wonderful. Such a great idea to build a gate into the house.

    These sure beat the horrible, cheap baby gate we got to keep dd’s little Maltipoo from sneaking upstairs. –Especially since he figured out how to squeeze around the end on one side, and circumvent the whole thing on the other by jumping through the stair railing…So now we’ve added a tall book to block one end, and a piece of large cardboard (meant to cut patterns of fabric on) along the side of the stair railing… All ‘very attractive,’ of course… For another doorway, the ‘gate’ is 2 leaning pieces of plywood. :-/

    • Allison May 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Glad everyone has gotten ideas from them. ;D @ RHome. Sounds like the gate DH built for DD2. It won’t be seen if/when her kitchen makeover is revealed. It’s started out as semi-square, but got an addition on the top when Sadie could crawl over (long legged dog). That kept her in briefly, as she found out she could crawl her way up/over the counter. It’s a combo wood, chicken wire, plexiglass and a bunch screws… and it’s still unpainted = winner of Ugly Baby/Pet Gate Contest.

  6. Stephanie McKeith August 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    How do I get in contact with the builder? I am interested in the swinging gate that splits in the middle!

    • Allison August 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

      I will send Larry your email address, Stephanie. Mine doesn’t open in the center, but I’m sure he could build one that does.

      • Amber Sides September 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

        Hi Allison,

        Does Larry still make custom dog gates? I need two built for current home.



  7. Heather September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    What kind of latch did you find for the two piece gate that is hinged in the center? I am having one built for my stairs, and can’t seem to find anything that the gate will hold tightly to, and not pull out from the latch.

    • Allison September 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

      Heather, we used 6″ hook and eye (like used on screen doors, but larger for gates and shutters) on the back side (so he can’t open). When he gets older, we’re going to add a metal plate to the center, so that it won’t go forward (down the stairs). Not that it’s easily pushed that direction – better to be safe. The flat part of the hinges are mounted on the side of each gate panel (so all you see from the back is the rounded part of the hinge). We also have a strip of wood (same as gate material) screwed to the wall for a “stop.” The stops the gate from going past “closed,” and gives us something sturdy to attach the hook and eye.

      I’d love to see yours. Email me a picture when you’re done.

  8. Devan October 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m interested in the wrought iron swing gate. We have the same setup at our house and a little boy running around. It would be so refreshing to have a beautiful solution when baby proofing.

  9. Allison October 10, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    Hi Devan. You should be able to find a wrought iron shop in a local city near you. If not, the internet has shops willing to build and ship, but you’ll have to do the measuring and installation.

  10. paula daddio July 5, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    I would also like to be in touch with the builder.. I need a wide walk through gate for my front porch so that my dog can hang out with me on the porch and I don’t have to keep jumping over a gate. I have an old house and would like something that looks nice instead of the babys r us version that is there now.

    • Allison July 6, 2013 at 8:38 am #

      I’m happy to email him your address, pjdaddyo.

  11. Lauren September 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Do you know anyone who makes gates like these in the Chicago area?

    • Allison September 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

      Lauren, you should be able to find a metal shop in your area that can build a custom gate using Google or Yahoo search. There is a website called that builds wood gates to your measurements. While I’ve never used them, the pictures in their gallery look well made.

  12. Kevin September 25, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Can anyone tell me what type of hinge and latch is being used on this one:

    • Allison September 25, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Kevin, the source/custom builder of that gate is


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