The new custom fabricated sleeping loft railing is in! And it has a gate that latches! And it’s paired with new handrails on the retractable ladder! And it’s all safe and sturdy and beautiful! If it’s not immediately apparent, we’re thrilled with the work of the company that we contracted. (In or around southwest Michigan? We worked with Ken out of St. Joseph, MI.)
We’ve been working toward a vibe that is both modern and relaxed for our little Tree House fixer-upper, and we’ve (very) slowly but surely been dialing in the details to bring that vision to life. After a year and a half in the space, we finally decided that the wobbly old log railing had to go. We tried to love it, but it always felt a little… forced? Rustic? Plus, it wasn’t the sturdiest structure on the planet – not even close! – and it always felt just a little too low to be safe. After researching fabricators in the area, we found Ken and felt at ease with him immediately. We had a lot of ideas for how we wanted it to look, borrowing a big chunk of design inspiration from our friends Chris and Julia, as well as Simply Simple’s modern farmhouse railing. He seemed genuinely excited to take on this project, which is always a good sign!
May I jog your memory?
And now we’ve got this sleek, sturdy masterpiece!
The new railing is almost 4″ taller than the structure it replaced, and it’s sturdier and safer with an integrated gate that can be latched to remain either open or closed. To keep the gate open, a small notched tab flips over the top of a threaded bolt that is inserted into the vertical framework of the railing:
The integrated ‘bullet’ hinges are simple, understated works of art. Much like the rest of the metalwork, they’re powdercoated in a matte black finish and also feature a small brass washer between the top and bottom hinge portion. The design is simple and clean and the gate just plain feels nice to open and close.
The baseplates of the railing cover the gaps in the floorboards where the old log railings were mounted. If you’d never seen the ‘before’ photos, you’d never realize this design wasn’t original! We’ve got a bit of wood trim work to finish up between the flooring and the lower face of the railing (as well as a few small areas of floorboards to restain), but it should be a pretty straightforward process.
The winch-operated loft ladder also got an upgrade in the form of a pair of sturdy custom handrails that allow for a continuous handhold all the way up to the loft. Finally! Medium-toned wood and matte black metal have become a running theme in the home’s design, and this image shows how well the new railing and handrails play off of the existing bed frame, door hardware, and counter stools.
At some point during the design process, Ken added the vertical grab handles to the inside of each gate section, and we were blown away by the simple functionality of the design. After using them countless times over the course of a long weekend, we couldn’t believe that we ever lived without them. They inspire confidence when making the transition from the top step of the ladder to the flooring surface of the loft, and they also help to narrow the gap between railing sections.
Below, you can see the tab that latches the gate closed is just visible from the outside. This allows a person entering the loft space to operate the latch easily without having to reach over the railing from the small platform at the top of the ladder. It’s all these small details that make the design so intuitive, which, isn’t that the whole goal of a great design? Psst: There’s a wallpaper sneak peek in these photos, but more on that project shortly!
Ken knocked this project out of the park, helping us to achieve all of our goals for the new railing and handrails. It’s sturdier, safer, and fits much better with the overall aesthetic we’ve been working towards. During our last visit, we read books and played with Lucy in the loft without the need to block off the stairs with a big basket or plywood panel. It was a big relief to be able to enjoy low-key family time without constant worry.
We’ll be calling the loft ‘done’ shortly, so be sure to keep an eye peeled for the big wallpaper reveal!
The railings look lovely! I don’t want to rain on your parade, but have you thought about the horizontal slats being so easy for a kid to climb on… That is why baby gates almost always have vertical slats.
We gave this a lot of thought. Lucy hasn’t expressed any interest in climbing (we were all up there playing for a while), and by all other means – the new height, how sturdy it is (SO strong!), the gate that goes all the way across – we just feel infinitely more at ease with this new design. We understand it’s not a choice for everyone, but we did what we feel comfortable with and took into account a lot of other safety concerns.
I think this is one of those things that you can do with your own kids but wouldn’t work on a commercial product. At the first sign of climbing you shut it down and your kids knows that it’s serious and don’t do it. We have a white couch and two small kids, same deal. They know better than to eat raspberries on it! I think the railing is gorgeous, one of my favorite things you guys have done.
Thank you, Martina! We say the same thing about our cream sectional. :)
Looks amazing! Can you give a price range (and size) for something like this?
It’s going to vary SO much by city and any additional features. We paid more to have those bullet hinges and to make sure everything would align and look great whether the gate was opened or closed. We’re spanning 12′, plus a small section on the landing, plus the handrails. Our design came to just under $3k. We could have spent more (we considered a sliding gate) or less (if we had it painted rather than powder coated), so there’s definitely a sliding scale depending on what you’re willing to sacrifice or invent more into!
Just a heads up to anyone looking at this post and wondering if costs have changed. We reached out to the fabricator of this railing in summer of 2021, and stated we wanted basically the exact same thing. We also have a loft, about the same dimensions, except we have steps so we didn’t need a ladder handrail. We knew it had been a couple years so figured costs might be a bit more. The quote we were given was over $10k. We decided to go with a different fabricator (Yellow Weld out of Ohio), and we are not only doing the loft but another section of the house, so about 30 feet of railing total, 42″ height, powder coated black, same style. Total cost is mid $6k. We got several quotes from fabricators and in general we found a reasonable price range is $175 – $250 per foot. The price from 269 Design and Fabrication (who made the railing in this post) wanted over $400 a linear foot for our project, so I think maybe he just didn’t want the job. Hope this help others looking to sort out costs.
I’m surprised these horizontal railings are allowed in your city. They are so nice and sleek but our building code doesn’t allow for them unless we sign a waiver and void any insurance coverage!
We looked into everything you mentioned before starting this project, including heights and all safety regulations. Our fabricator was amazing throughout this process as well!
The new railing looks fantastic! I really admire these modern railing designs, but I’m worried about my toddler being unable to resist climbing them. Do you know how you might try to prevent that yourself? I’m eager for ideas!
Here’s how one blogger child-proofed horizontal railings like this: https://www.blueistyleblog.com/2016/06/HowToBabyProofHorizontalRailings.html
But if you haven’t yet installed them, why not avoid the need by using vertical slats?
Oh, that’s a really helpful tutorial! We actually do have vertical slats currently but I don’t like the style. They could actually use that plastic for preventing heads from going in-between the railings too though, so I’m bookmarking that for sure.
Love the new railing and all the thought-out features! Game changer!
Those hinges are giving me alllllll the heart eyes.
Love the look but those are against code in Michigan- at least where I live.
We verified everything in the early design stages. This was very important to us that everything – design and height – were all within code.
Lovely, but this strikes me as a huge design fail. Since the whole point of this construction is safety from falls, vertical slats were the ONLY way to go. Your child may not be wanting to climb this (yet), but other children naturally and certainly will. Even if kids aren’t allowed in the loft without adults present (which seems unlikely, as there are twin beds up there for sleeping in after all), a small child can be up and over that railing before an adult a few feet away in the loft even notices or can get to them. Toddlers are generally clever, climbers, amazingly fast, and with little fear. Even older kids (teenagers, young adults) who are old enough to know better won’t necessarily, and will be tempted by the horizontal railings to sit on top of the railing, goofing off. The point shouldn’t be just compliance with code, or insurance, but actual common sense about safety and preventing foreseeable accidents.
After a fall or a close scare, you can bolt plexiglass sheets to the loft side of it.
I do like the ladder handrails and the grab bars at the top.
Dang!!! That’s a nice railing! We need to replace ours in our home one day because it’s a curly sue old railing, and I’m getting so much inspiration from this! I love how simple and modern it is! Great job you guys!
The railing is beautiful, but I especially love the rails on the ladder!
I’m fascinated reading the comments about safety! We have a five year old (only child) and he was never ever once a climber. It didn’t even hit my radar when I saw the post!! But it’s totally clear who the parents of climbers were!!!! And wow do I commend them for managing climbers!!! I love the railing!!
I love the railing and I love the horizontal slats. And after reading the comments, I don’t think it’d be that hard to make it climb-proof with a sheet of clear plastic and a few zip ties if climbing ever became an issue.