Baby proofing the fireplace

Now that DJ is crawling all over the place and pulling up, we knew it was time to tackle the baby proofing.  The smaller stuff was easy to do including plug outlet covers and locking the cabinets.  We did have one unfortunate lamp that was pulled over so cords are now tied and tucked away.  However, we still had one looming thing to baby proof.  Our giant brick hearth on the fireplace.

I knew pretty early on that I didn’t want to mess with options from the store like little foam bumpers that cover the edge.  I didn’t think they would stay on well and didn’t think they would really protect from scratches and bumps on the sides and top of the brick.

So, we came up with a DIY idea.  We built a frame out of some cheap wood and covered in foam and fabric.  It really wasn’t that hard although a bit more expensive then we anticipated (we didn’t really feel like we had a choice so we just built it without thinking about budget before hand).

First, we built the frame in the garage based on some measurements.  We had to account for a small cutout in the top for the actual fireplace.

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Sorry, J wouldn’t stop working for a picture so its blurry!

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Here is the frame once its almost done on the fireplace.  We added a few more supports on the top just so it helped keep its shape.

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After the frame was done we took some rough measurements and went to the store to get some foam (I think we got 1″ foam) and some fabric that was on clearance (3 yards I think).   We stapled the foam to the frame which was hard because the foam was so thick but just enough to hold it in place under the fabric.  We covered the top, front, and sides with foam.   After that, we laid out the fabric on the foam and then I hand sewed a side panel on either side.  Its not the prettiest thing but it certainly does its job!

Brick Fireplace hearth covered with foam and fabric

Overall, I think we spent about $100 on this, but I did find other similar options that were thousands of dollars so we feel it was well spent.  It adds more seating to our room and we don’t have to worry at all with DJ crawls over and pulls up!

Our Engineered Hardwood Floors

J and I received a very generous amount of money as wedding presents and one of the things we really wanted to do with the house was instal hardwood floors.  When we first bought the house, we knew this was going to have to be done relatively soon.  The great room was divided in half with the foyer kitchen and hallway with a very plain stained sheet vinyl and the other half in a very cheap berber carpet.  The carpet had shades of gray and blue in it and got stained VERY easily.  Even after carpet cleaning, it would get dirty immediately afterwards.

So we had the big decision of what type of floors to install.  We love the idea of tile because of the durability and price but it didn’t fit the style of our ranch style home.  We obviously didn’t want to go back to a vinyl or carpet so it really left us with the hardwood option.  In the hardwood market right now there seemed to be three options, real hardwood plank floors, engineered hardwood floors, and laminate floors.  We had a hard time deciding but actually found a good process which really helped.

We would have loved to go with real plank wood floors but the cheapest option was still far out of our price range.  Additionally, true hardwood plank floors should be installed on a wood subfloor and we had a concrete slab floor.  In order to install the solid planks we would have to lay 1/4″ plywood below the 1/4″ planks.  That would have raised our flooring 1/2″ and we would have had to redo all our doors as well.  This option did not meet price or practicality so obviously this wasn’t an option for us.

Engineered hardwood floors have several different options in this category but basically it is a thin layer of real hard wood backed by plywood.  Typically this can be installed by the typical DIYer because it has the click grooves installed.  The biggest benefit to this style flooring is that it is real wood so it has a very nice appearance and is a great selling feature.  However, because this is real hardwood there are still downfalls.  First, the price is still expensive because its real wood.  Secondly, because its real wood it also can scratch very easily.  Since the engineered floor is only a thin layer of real wood it can only be sanded so many times (approx 2-3).  So, you get a really nice wood appearance but still some downfalls.

Laminate floor was not really our favorite but since its such a popular item we felt we really should look into it and give it a fair chance.  The biggest reason we loved the idea of laminate is because of its durability.  It doesn’t scratch like real wood from normal wear and tear but can be subject to big scratches like from moving furniture.  However, we really weren’t loving the look of many laminates.  It felt like many of the products we looked at would have the right grain and color but put together just looked either too cheap or too modern for our home.  We wanted the rustic classic feel real wood brought.  Some new laminate products are starting to have beveled edges and texture “embossed in-register” (grain texture on the actual plank) which really helps make it look like real wood but the price also increases to around the price of engineered wood floor.

So in the end we chose an engineered hardwood floor that we found on sale at Lumber Liquidators. The price was cheaper than the laminate floors we were looking at and we just couldn’t imagine spending that much money on “fake wood”.   The floor is made by Shaw Floors, their Ventura line (no longer around), called Antique Brass Maple.  It has a handscraped finish and was able to be installed floating!  J and his dad did most of the installation so I will post more about that later!   Here is a picture of the wood!