light | table | chairs | vase | faux greens | high chair | gate
Our little Lucy has been a speedy crawler for a long time now, but a week before her first birthday, she decided that it was time for her to walk! She chooses her steps selectively and is still quicker to crawl, but with her newfound sense of mobility she’s also discovered that climbing the staircase (with very close supervision) is her very favorite activity. In addition, she tends to leave a 14 foot ring of food crumbs around her high chair during mealtime, which is just a little too tempting for our furry family members – whom she also takes great joy in feeding food that was meant for her!
All this to say, we knew it was time to install a few gates around the house to keep both Lucy from quickly ending up near the stairs and to keep the dogs away while we eat together as a (human) family. (But don’t worry, Jack and CC are the quintessential vacuums, speedily slurping up any mushy remnants that have fallen to the rug.)
Baby/dog gates can be a tricky thing. Functionality often takes priority over form, which of course, but they can leave a lot to be desired in the style department. We’ve DIY’d a few gates in the past – like the ones in the OTAT dog adoption center, our friend Kiira’s home, and our own side yard – but the layout of our current home made the use of traditional gates (no matter how custom) a challenge. We searched high and low for the perfect solution, but in the end, we ended up finding a version that functions much like a retractable roller curtain. We also liked that this gate rolls out of the way when not in use, so while the roll and hooks will always be visible, the durable ‘gate’ fabric is out of the way when not necessary. This gate has been a game changer for us and we’ve even ordered a couple more to place elsewhere in the house. Gates everywhere!
Like most purchases we make online, we’re sure to read the reviews, and the reviews on this one? Well, they’re not stellar, but upon further digging, the majority of the negative comments are due to a fundamental misunderstand of how the gate works. There is a small round button at the top of the main portion of the gate that must be pushed in and turned 90 degrees in order for the gate to ‘release’. Once the button is turned and therefore released, the gate will roll out smoothly until it is placed on the ‘hook’ end. The gate then retracts a bit (similar to the function of a seat belt) and locks into place. Many of the negative reviews mention that the dial must be held with one hand while the gate is extended with the other, but this is simply not the case, and we’ve found the gate easy to use and very intuitive once used a few times.
After the initial test drive, we’ve also found these gates to be incredibly durable! CC decided to give the kitchen gate the ol’ flying hippo test and took a bumbling leap over it when a friend came to visit. With a complete and utter lack of grace, she barely made it over the top and landed unfazed on her goofy snout. Jack wouldn’t dare risk embarrassing himself as CC often does, so beyond that one incident, the dogs have stayed in the areas that we’ve intended after a few lessons where they were rewarded handsomely with treats.
Several days after trying our retractable gate in the kitchen during mealtimes, we ordered another to install at the landing at the top of the stairs. We mounted this on on the far side of the landing, which keeps the pups from being able to see down through the front door and to the sidewalk so they don’t bark every time our sweet mail lady (or a neighbor or another dog or, or, or!) comes by.
Having the gate on the small landing around the corner from stairs also keeps us from having to balance precariously on the top step while we open and close the gate. Old house stairs can be steep!
Although DIY was our first thought as we dove into this search, we’re happy to report that the retractable gate solution works really well for our family and the layout of our home. And although you can see the mechanism when rolled away, we’ve found that in the spaces where we need them, it’s more convenient than a door that needs to swing out of the way when not in use.
During our deep dive into all things baby-and-pet-gate, we also found a variety of gates we think would look great in any home, and we’ve rounded those up for you, below! As a bonus, several of these gates are from custom sellers that can customize shapes, sizes and finishes to meet your needs.
21 Baby Gates That Look Good Doing Their Thing
1. white retractable | 2. aluminum swing | 3. white/grey walk-through | 4. matte bronze walk-through | 5. white metal walk-through | 6. custom geometric
7. custom modern white | 8. metropolitan | 9. extra-wide walk-through | 10. expandable swing | 11. mid-century | 12. easy close metal
13. expandable XL tall and wide | 14. modern wood | 15. black retractable | 16. expandable wood | 17. rustic wood sliding | 18. light wood push to close
19. slim metal | 20. expandable teal | 21. easy swing and lock
Thanks for sharing! I’ve never seen a retractable version before. Also, love seeing your pups. They were the reason I first started reading. Hi Jack, hi CC! You are being such good doggos.
Hiiii, I had a baby about a year after this comment and now I’m back to buy the gate because he’s mobile….LOL. Thanks for all your good recommendations!
We love, love, LOVE out retractable gates! We got them a few years ago and have one at the top of our basement stairs (where our TV room is and no door!) and one outside our kitchen for our pups exclusively! They are worth their weight. Ours mount on the inside of the doorway, which I don’t love (so am saving yours for if/when they need replaced!), but they’ve held up to our big guys even with a few over-the-top scenarios!
Hey Hannah! These gates have passed the Jack and CC test, so that means a seal of approval for your pack! Tell Sam we say hi!
My husband and I are getting a puppy in March and we just bought a few gates. They haven’t arrived yet, but I’m so glad you published this post, in case we need to rethink our purchases. Thank you!!
Good luck with your puppy Mallory! Glad this helps!
I love the retractable version for the stairway! We currently use a big standing gate that is just ugly, so this may be a good solution for our space. I can’t believe that in so many of my searches this hasn’t come up.
I love reading into the nitty gritty of reviews like y’all did. Love your sweet pups too :)
Haha! It’s mandatory, otherwise great products get reviewed poorly because people didn’t read the instructions!
We have gate 2 and it’s Doug proof which is saying A LOT!!! xoxo
We have the 2nd gate you show above, the aluminum one, at the top of our stairs. We actually had to build a (temp*) wall to install it, since otherwise we would have had to install it 3 steps down where we have two walls. It’s help up really well, as our daughter has graduated to hanging on the gate and bouncing when she hears one of us come home. Because of our small landing and all the bedrooms (and my office) being upstairs, we wanted something that would function almost as a wall, for when she and the nearly 70lb dog are running races from room to room.
*we toyed with making a permanent half wall here, and had it designed as such, but then realized that there would be NO way to get a bed or bedframe up and down our stairs with the wall there. So, temp wall it is. :D
Haha! We know all about permanent structures blocking furniture access! Sounds like the you’ve figured out the best solution that’s still practical.
Three years ago, we had to find a gate with a cat door to allow the cats to have access to their litter box while keeping the baby out of it! Talk about a tall order. We finally found a pet gate on Amazon that fit the bill, except for a short phase when both babies were crawling, but still small enough to FIT THROUGH THE CAT DOOR! It’s not great looking, but we figured it was temporary. (And it was; we lost two of our kitties, so now we have just one litter box elsewhere and the gate is gone!)
Also, that one custom geometric gate? Gorgeous, but my fearless 20-month-old would make a ladder of it in no time.
That IS a tall order! Libby needs to be able to have access to both floors at all times, but she can literally fit through the gap on the side of the retractable gate. (She’s only 3 lbs!)
I didn’t know how much I needed the phrase “the ol’ flying hippo test” in my life until this moment. I’ve been living without the right terminology for too long!
Seeing is believing.
My cousins have a bulldog mix named Talullah. We call her the flying hippo of love. It’s amazing how much ground clearance she can get when she wants so to do. ;-)
Haha love that!!
Thankyou so much for the recommendation. We have a puppy coming this year and have been looking at gates. I was delighted to find the retractable option, but was put off by the reviews. Your road test tips the balance back to my first instinct. Yay!!!!!
We were so pleasantly surprised with the quality of the retractable gate! Those bad reviews are nonsense, haha.
My parents got the same gate for their house! It is a perfect solution because they don’t always need to have a gate but have little ones over often enough that they need something to keep them safe! They had a nice swing door one but it ended up being more of a pain for them and every day life.
We may have to lobby for these gates at the grandparents’ houses too!
Thank you!! This is EXACTLY what we need!! Which gate height did you guys go with- the 33” or the 39”?
Hi Bailey! All of our gates are 33″, but our baseboards require them to mount a few inches off of the floor. Also, keep in mind that 33″ is the overall height of the roller mechanism, but the fabric ‘gate’ material measures to exactly 30″ top to bottom. Hope this helps!
Oh CC & sweet Jack. Such good pups. I’ve done a lot of house sitting and can say that I’ve only been duped by one baby gate. ??♀️ Thanks for the research & curating a nice selection. We need a better solution for the top of our stairs. We have a few tricky things about that space that might mean a custom gate, but I’ve got my fingers crossed we can make one of your other suggestions work.
Good luck with your search! We found it to be surprisingly time-consuming, so you can hopefully get to a solution faster than we did!
Love these gates. I first saw them at my sister in law’s house and they work amazing well. They visually just disappear when rolled up (they have a white one attached to a white wall). She also uses one outside at the top of the deck stairs and it has held up well with the outside elements (that one is tan and also disappears with the wood deck). She jokes that the gates are the most complemented items in her house!
Yes, we love that they can be outdoor use as well!
They look a little flimsy. What’s your expirence been? Do you worry about Lucy pushing on it and falling down the stairs?
They’re surprisingly thick and strong! And the gate at the top of the stairs is around the corner. She doesn’t even seem to notice the gates tbh.
We’re a house of four kids who leave toys everywhere. We adopted a doggo this weekend who’s awesome, but likes to chew toys. Werealized we can leave her in a tiled area when we’re gone, instead of crating her…. except we need a barrier to a sunken living room.
I think that retractable gate would do the trick. Yeah for no crates!
We’re getting a puppy in March and bought these gates after reading your post! They just arrived and we can’t WAIT to install them! Thanks so much! <3
Thanks for posting this! We have a narrow servants staircase that traditional gates are too wide for, so this might be just what we need! Our main stairs have a landing after 3 steps, but the bottom 3 are open and curved. Do you think this would work to attach to a newel post on one side, and then curve around to a wall? Sorry if my explanation doesn’t make sense.
Yes! I think the gate that we used would be a perfect solution for your newel-to-wall scenario.
Well, after lots of mulling it over, we ordered the retractable gate and after further debate we installed it in our wide living room doorway. We love it, and it only took a couple of tries to figure out the push-and-turn of the button. The hubby was resisting and finally declared that he refused to say he loved it (he loves it).
Our stairway won’t be a good option for this but I’m now mulling over one of the swing out gates and it is happily parked in my Amazon cart for now. Thanks for the list!
Hooray! I’m so happy it worked out for you. We love ours so much and wondered why we waited so long. :D
PS… sorry your comments always end up in spam! I’m always checking though. ;)
Great idea!Couldn’t help but laugh when I saw that disappointed look on the dog’s face :))
Am I wrong thinking the gate at the top of the stairs wouldn’t work for a baby. Fine for dogs but not a toddler who will fall down stairs ? I’m looking for a good option too!
The gate has been awesome at the top of our stairs! We have a landing that separates the gate from the stairs themselves, so there’s an additional barrier there as well. It’s pretty tall – Lucy hasn’t even tried to mess with it once.
Hi Kim and Scott! I just wanted to say thank you for this guide. I remember reading it when it was first released. I had a baby in February 2021 (after a long struggle with infertility — so appreciated your post on your own challenges, Kim!). It is now time for me to begin researching baby gates for my own home. I spent the past 24 hours researching and feeling discouraged with the options out there and what would work for our home. I then asked myself who else would have done the same research I am doing and thought of both of you and remembered this post. Going to try ordering a retractable gate now. Thanks so much!
Congrats on the new addition to your family! We’re so glad our guide was helpful!