30 June 2011

Modern Guardrails

The latest on the kitchen redux is that we are still in the planning stages. The good news is that I received an email from IKEA yesterday announcing a new kitchen sale that runs through August 21, 2011 -- so I'm confident we'll make that deadline.

The backstory on our lack of progress is that after posting our initial design on the IKEAFANS site, I only received one response. However, it proved to be a very important one. A kind FAN suggested that we move a window to achieve a more beneficial layout. I agreed and went to work to see how realistic it would be to complete. Moving a window is something that I have no time or desire to complete myself, so I need to call in a few contractors for quotes. We're also thinking about having a short run of stairs up to the kitchen rebuilt, so I'd like the contractor to include that in the quote as well. Finally, we need to come up with a modern guardrail solution for the kitchen, and I'd like to float those ideas past the contractors as well.

So that required us to sit down and come up with an idea of the look we're hoping to achieve with the new guardrail. Although I've been collecting inspiration shots over the past couple of years, there are pros and cons to all of them, especially when you throw in an extremely mobile 10 month old (who will only grow older and more mobile).

Here's our current space:
kitchen before 1For those looking to get your bearings, you're standing in our "lower living room" looking up to the kitchen. The short run of three stairs is to your left and the lower living room's drop ceiling is visible at the top of the picture. The wood paneling will be replaced with drywall during the kitchen remodel. At some point, I hope to build a floating desk on that short wall.

Here are some inspiration shots that we're considering, along with our thoughts on each:

Glass w/ Stainless or Aluminum Hardware
Pros: Will create sense of openness between kitchen and living room, making the small kitchen feel larger; love the look of the exposed hardware
Cons: Glass + Toddler(s) = Never Clean; although I haven't priced this out yet, I get the sense that this is one of the more expensive routes to take

Plexiglass or 3form 
Pros: Creates sense of openness; still a big fan of the exposed hardware; depending on finish, easier to keep clean than glass; suspect plexi is cheaper than glass
Cons: Although not fully researched, I suspect these materials are more susceptible to scratching, 3form is expensive and not easily sourced

Cable w/ Stainless or Aluminum Hardware
Pros: Nice, clean, modern look; creates sense of openness; easy to clean, may be more economical than glass
Cons: Horizontal Rails + Toddler(s) = Climbing Hazard (although I have some ideas for temporary covers/guards to thwart any climbing)

Aluminum Fence-like Divider
Modern look; safe; probably the most economical choice
Cons: Not as clean looking as other options; creates a more closed-in feeling

Aluminum, Steel or either material combined with wood
Pros: Vertical balusters are possible, which eliminates the climbing hazard; clean, simple look that creates openness between the rooms 
Cons: I suspect custom fabrication would be required here -- run for the hills (unless you know someone or are willing to learn to weld yourself!)

I'll be back at some point with some inspiration shots for the stairs. In the meantime, drop a comment with your thoughts, ideas, resources and links on modern guardrail solutions.


Lesley said...

Hi there! I just realized that your kitchen/living room layout (with short run of stairs) seems exactly like my in-laws. But, they have decidedly unmodern stuff, so not very helpful!

But, I did want to weigh in on glass and having a toddler. I wouldn't let that be your main criteria. I have a 4 year old and we are surrounded by glass in our house now. And, it's just not really a deal at all. I can't even remember the last time I've had to wipe much off of our glass from our child. (Crumbs and spills on my furniture and rugs---whole other thing).

BTW, we finally get an Ikea here in Denver at the end of July. Yea!

Jamie said...

Thanks for sharing this post.

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Glass fabricators said...

what a great house you have..the interior design was pretty awesome..i love your house..

Caiden Moeller said...

Thank you for sharing those pros and cons. I’m sure builders and homeowners would love to read your post to know what best suits your home. But I do love the last guardrail option. Wood and metal were a very unlike combination. But with the right engineering, it can be ideal as a guardrail. The contrasting textures can add beauty to the stairs, and both materials are durable and easy to maintain.

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