Monday, February 20, 2012

Safety Over Beauty In Design

I had second thoughts about posting this, but what good is my blog if I don't speak my mind! So here goes. I see a lot of bedroom and nursery designs in which objects hung above beds and cribs cause me to pause and think about safety. Did the person hanging the heavy mirror, frames with glass or ledges filled with items know what they were doing?

And I'm not saying I haven't done it myself. In the first bedroom below, the last item brought in to finish the design was a fairly heavy round mirror from Pottery Barn. I went all out, way beyond requirements, using 80 lb toggle bolts on which to slip the triangular hooks secured to the back of the mirror over. Still, wanting to be 100% safe I actually added a second hanging system, wall hooks designed to hold nearly an equal amount of weight, hanging the mirror on these with heavy duty hanging wire.  

But even that wasn't enough. After attempting to sleep with that mirror looming above my head, knowing it could easily cause serious harm if it fell, I got up in the middle of the night and took it down! The lesson of safety over beauty was reinforced and now when I see similar items hanging over sleeping areas I cringe with concern.





All gorgeous rooms, absolutely, but I hope the mirrors were hung properly!


And when designing rooms for children, safety just has to be the top priority. Any frames with glass are to be avoided over cribs. In addition to the risk of falling due to a number of factors, as the child grows they will certainly be reaching up, grabbing at anything within proximity of their curious hands.


And while these rooms are beautifully and creativity decorated, ledges with items placed on them and heavy mirrors should be hung on another wall rather than the one where a crib is placed.



And finally, regarding tall bookcases and dressers, whether children live in a house or not, it's always best to secure them to the wall. Even if there is not a little one around who might be tempted to use them as structures to climb up, they can easily tip over during a tremor or earthquake. 

So, my little reminder on a Monday morning...
when decorating don't forget the importance of considering safety issues when making design choices.

60 comments :

  1. I love that you posted about this. I think it's an important discussion of keeping families safe even at the expense of design at times.

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  2. Thanks for this post. As someone who has lived both on the west coast (earthquake territory) and the midwest (tornado alley), please also remember that the straps/brackets sold to anchor furniture to address one natural disaster actually addresses both. Happy Monday!

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  3. You have such a valid point here and I have felt, like you said, when seeing something of this nature hanging over a bed. Tall futniture is an invitation to climb. Thank you for pointing out.

    Have a safe week

    Helen xx

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  4. I completely agree. I have actually never hung anything above my bed for that reason. I've tried so many things but it makes me feel eeerily claustrophobic to see something above my head as I lay i bed. As for the babies, lightweight canvases only above their sweet heads. My oldest is only 18 months old and she lost her above crib decor at 8 months for this reason. My son is only seven weeks so he's still enjoying a canvas I painted for him a bit longer. I feel the same way about all those shelves above changing tables.

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  5. Great post, Janell. The mirror I have over our bed now is resin so hopefully it wouldn't kill me :) Great point about kids' room and nurseries. Always paranoid about that.

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  6. I have thought about this too. Our first Nursery I used a decal above the crib which was nice because even when he could stand up and reach for stuff he couldn't pull anything down. This time around I used the tissue paper pom poms which are light and another hanging thing but not right over the crib just in case. You can check it out here. http://www.chicspacesforlittlefaces.com/2012/02/nursery-transformation-part-5-final.html
    (I may have to take down the frame above the crib when my baby gets old enough to stand up) Although we don't typically have earthquakes in this part of the country (Maryland) we did have one a few months ago and that made me question things even more. Glad you posted about this Janell!

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  7. Wonderful post.. Some of these decor items weigh a ton, and is definitely a hanging challenge.. double reinforcements or screwing them to the wall is critical.
    Thanks for sharing this...
    Safety First!
    Nancy
    http://www.powellbrower.com/2012/02/my-first-sofa-reupholster.html

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  8. My dad is a general contractor and used to always hang stuff for me whenever I moved. I was the only kid in college with stuff properly hung in the cement block walls that made our dorm rooms!! He would also take down and repair the wall when I moved. Well, I got married and my husband would sit back and let my dad hang things whenever he visited. Until our experience with a cute shelf installed over my then-toddler's bed. He put that shelf up with the realization that my daughter might try to mess with it. When we moved (military family so that happened a lot!), my dad wasn't around to take down. It took two adult men to get it out of the wall and their efforts not only broke the shelf but also damaged the wall huge!! Ha, ha!! When my dad puts things up, nothing is going to get that sucker down!! (The problem was that the guys taking the shelf down had no idea what type of brackets my dad used or how he secured it.) My husband decided no more of my Dad's install jobs until we were in a permanent house. Now that we are here for awhile, my dad is again allowed to hang things!!! :0)))))

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  9. I'm very glad you posted this, and I completely agree with you. As beautiful as some of the images you posted are, I wouldn't be able to sleep with something hanging over my head and I would worry about children as well.

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  10. HAHA! Maybe you could just sleep with a pillow over your head! I feel ya on this one!

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  11. Wow, that was really refreshing to hear a post on safety and concerns. Things people NEVER talk about. Good Job Janell, you should feel proud!!!

    Bethany
    http://www.powellbrower.com/2012/02/my-first-sofa-reupholster.html

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  12. Amen!
    Especially on the nursery and children's rooms...safety first!

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  13. Heavy items should also not be placed over changing tables. Unfortunately I know this the hard way. We had a shelf with very cute items over my daughter's changing table. Even though it was hung with heavy duty hardware, it fell. We had not noticed from our vantage point when changing her that it had started pulling from wall. She tossed her shoe up and it fell. She had to have 7 stitches above her eye. I felt terrible since that could have certainly been avoided! Thanks for posting!!! - Allison

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  14. I am a little skid-dish to have anything hanging above my bed. After living through many earthquakes here in so. Calif. I would rather have my wall look empty.

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  15. This is always in the back of my mind when I'm doing my own rooms, Janell. The only time I really have the question pop into my head when I see pictures is those pretty chandy's hanging over bathtubs. Now I know the chances of them actually falling into a tub while someone is using it are slim, but that would make me nervous. I keep things over the bed wall light; small pictures, canvas prints. In fact, when we do my granddaughter's room, she has a canvas print that I won, with her name on it and I'm going to use that over her crib.

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  16. Thank you for the voice of reason. It's about time someone stated the obvious about mirrors and glass framed pictures over cribs and beds. Well done!

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  17. So true, especially here in earthquake country! That is what my hubby said everytime. Lucky I have a VERY light mirror above the bed, that even if it fell on us, it would just wake us up, not hurt us!

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  18. I have the craziest, most morbid imagination and I always picture the worst things happening which has prevented me from putting anything up on walls over beds/cribs.

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  19. You are awesome!!!!!! Thank you for posting something that could potentially save someone from getting hurt. I love good design just as much as anyone but when it comes to safety, especially our kids, that has to come first.

    Thanks again!!!

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  20. Good post, Janell. As much as most of us love designs, safety has to come first. This is a great reminder to us all!

    P/S: Enter my current giveaway for a chance to win an Amazon gift card, if you like!

    Jessie
    www.mixandchic.com

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  21. Totally agree! I sell heavy wall hangings in my etsy shop, and EVERY single listing, I state do not hang this over a bed or crib. They would be gorgeous and I can totally see someone doing it! And even though I believe in my product 100% its just not okay to hang over a person sleeping.


    Thanks for sharing!!

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  22. Such a great point, Janell. I know I have put thing up above beds or cribs for photo shoots, but then taken them down for real life and daily living. I could not sleep with a heavy mirror over my bed!

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  23. SO true! I have a plastic frame on the mirror over my daughters headboard and it weighs next to nothing but is super cute. But I always cringe over those heavy pieces, especially over the crib. I also have little asthmatics so I am always cautious of any dust collectors hanging from the ceiling just for looks. Like those beautiful clusters with paper lanterns. Never could do that in my kids rooms.

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  24. Really great topic! I have looked at great rooms before and wondered if it was really functional and realistic for this reason as well! Design CAN take into account things like kids and safety. Glad to see so many others agree!

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  25. Thank you for posting this! These are things that we unfortunately don't think about sometimes until it is too late. Our friends lost their child when she pulled a heavy television over on her and it killed her. She was four years old. This could happen with furniture, picture, heavy planter and many other things. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry.

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  26. OK. I feel much better. I always thought I was a stick in the mud when looking at nursery designs. That is why I have never hung anything except for canvas artwork near a bed. Great post. I also use earthquake hold on EVERYTHING we hang in the house. That stuff is awesome.

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  27. I have done the same thing! What I wound up doing was pulling my bed away from the wall a few inches so if the heavy mirror fell it would fall behind the headboard and not on our heads. What good is a beautiful object if it keeps you from your beauty rest.
    PS- Our bed is now in front of the window so no need to hang anything.

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  28. I live in SF - aka earthquake country - so heavy objects over the bed are a definite no-no. One tremor and I could be beheaded......

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  29. Yes, I have lived in cities down the west coast from Nome to San Francisco, experiencing first hand a few quakes and many more tremors, quickly learning the power of even a small shake. Thanks for everyone's comments, and I'm the first to say I've made every one of these mistakes myself, but then came kids and I saw things much differently than I ever had before! Janell

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  30. This is a terrific post! Very important for people to think about this as they decorate their homes. I think it is often overlooked.

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  31. I wince when I see potential hazards hung--with great love--above or within reach of cribs. Ditto for anything weighty above a bed. Maybe "style and safety" can become as famous a pairing as "form and function." Thanks for raising this issue, especially with the examples you chose.

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  32. Oh, my goodness, about the family who lost their little girl... there are no words. I am so sorry for their loss. The only thing one can do is to learn from it so that no one else has to suffer. To that end, thank you, Janell, for posting this. Also, I just wanted to point out that hanging something securely involves BOTH how secure something is in the wall as well as how secure the hardware is in the item itself. Something may be secured into the studs with super duper hardware, but if the eye hooks or D-rings or whatever is in the back of the mirror come out, then you're still in trouble. Just something else to consider.

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  33. Excellent point, about the hanging hardware on the actual piece, it could also end up being faulty you are so right. And Judy, your comment sadly brings up the importance of this topic and am saddened by the tragedy your friends have experienced. Janell

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  34. Thanks for this post. I often look at pics thinking the same thing about nurseries. YIKES!

    Have a great week!
    Kim www.plumberrypie.blogspot.com

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  35. Excellent post. SO many great valid points, we get so caught up in the beauty and excitment sometimes putting aside safety and practicality. I tend to be paranoid so many of these things I wouldnt' do like a mirror over my bed, I know I wouldnt' sleep a wink if that was there..and forget it, when it comes to kids rooms...I am really paranoid. So many things, like the tall looming dresser or bookcase..no way!!
    Great points and somethign for everyone to think about!!!!!

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  36. I agree with you! I don't like anything heavy hanging over my bed! When we were on vacation last year, my kids slept in a bed with a huge, heavy piece of art over the bed and my husband thought I was insane when I moved the bed a few inches from the wall in case the art fell!
    -Shelley

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  37. Sort of related.. but maybe a stretch: I was swimming in my gym/club's pool the other day and realized they have three huge lights hanging right above the pool. As I did my lazy backstroke and looked up, I thought "What if....one of them fell right into the water?"
    So yes, I am with you on this. As my Mother always said, "Don't hang bookshelves anywhere near a bed". I thought she was nuts when I was young...you live and learn!

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  38. Such a great post. Here's another one...how often have you seen a chandelier hanging over a bathtub in a magazine. It looks beautiful, but did you know that it's actually against code in many states. Just too dangerous to have electricity directly over water.

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  39. Thank you for the warning. I have a beautiful mirror that I was considering hanging over my bed, but I may reconsider.

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  40. Janell, thank you! While I have been cautious not to hang anything heavy over beds, I have glass front frames above mine. I never thought of the danger in that, and living in Utah, earthquakes are a worry. I am removing the glass right now!

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  41. It's one of my "things" lol - neurosis maybe :) I can't sleep if there is something over my head or the bead...and all those cute children's rooms give me anxiety thinking about how cute but impractical they are! Did you see Mariah Carey's nursery - oy...

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  42. Hey Janell,
    Very timely. I am doing an initial meeting on Wednesday of this week for a nursery project! You tend to forget after your babies are big. M.

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  43. Janell, thank you for posting this! As a designer, I am often concerned by magazine and blog photos I see of dangerous installations. Nurseries, especially, are often staged with dangerous bedding, vintage cribs with slats that are too far apart and possibly lead paint, banners and canopies draped to create a strangling hazard, and so on. As designers, we have a responsibility to design for the health, safety and welfare of all the users of a space -- if we fail to meet those basic needs, our design solution has failed, regardless of how pretty it looks. Another pet peeve of mine is when I see chandeliers hanging over a bathtub -- huge electrocution hazard, and against every building code I've ever seen. There is always someone, however, who decides it would make a pretty photo shoot, then someone sees the picture and decides to replicate the look in their own home. I wrote a post on that topic that can be found here: http://houserevivals.blogspot.com/2010/10/e-is-for-electricity-and-water.html

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  44. Good post!

    I'm totally cautious about this as well.

    I remember the day when I found my then 3-year-old sister (I was around 7) under a tall lingerie chest that had fallen over on her as she tried to pull out a drawer. Fortunately she wasn't hurt, which looking back, was kind of amazing.

    That was over 35 years ago, and I still remember it well.

    And ditto about the previous comment on chandeliers above tubs. There's a reason it's against code.

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  45. Couldn't agree more. My son's nursery has a mural painted on one wall: a tree that extends over his crib. I'd never hang anything above his bed.

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  46. We used to have a mirror above our bed and I couldn't keep it up with all the worry it caused. Better safe than sorry! My plan is to put one of my large white faux juju hats above the bed. Soft wool, no harm done. ;) PS - I love that grey print wallpaper in the second picture... must. hunt. down!

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  47. This is a very important aspect of design which many overlook. My installer is always complaining about how people hang things and how dangerous it could be. Good post!

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  48. I think the same thing every time I see an adorable nursery with large items directly on the wall behind a crib. I know that my children would have grabbed for these items and just the "jumpy dance" in the bed could case something to come crashing down. Very scary!

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  49. I hung three heavy framed pictures above my bed but then couldn't sleep thinking about them falling on me sometime when my hubby was out of town & my kids having to figure out what to do w/ their brain-dead mother.

    My solution? Industrial velcro at the bottoms to keep them from moving around (even in the event of an earthquake). I had to remove them when we got a new, higher headboard and it did take a little repair work, but the peace of mind has been worth it (and I was repainting the wall anyway). I've done the same w/ some of the artwork in my kids' rooms too-- anything w/ glass or above their heads.

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  50. Great idea above with the industrial velcro. But this post has just converted me...I am going in and taking down my huge, architecturally-striking mirror above our bed before it strikes ME! I had thought about this but was lazy in my attitude. Thank you for the sweet shove to do the right thing! Maybe a huge, architecturally-striking wall decal of a mirror would do the trick....also, my 16-year-old daughter was jumping on my bed the day I put that mirror up and she was asking,"Why would you want a mirror up here? You can't even see yourself, even if you jump!" Out of the mouths of babes...

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  51. Great post, Janell. Thank goodness, I have my husband to balance me out and remind me about 'function' over 'beauty'. If he'd see a picture of bed w/a mirror over it, his first thought would be, 'hope that is hung properly while mine would be 'so pretty'! BTW, I love Casey's bedroom you posted!

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  52. Great post, Janell, about a topic so rarely discussed. The third bedroom is my design and I thought long and hard about those mirrors! But since this is a guest room for the grandparents in non-earthquake-prone NE I felt confident that when installed properly they would be secure. Install for any heavy object should always be left to the pros. It'll help everyone sleep more soundly!

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  53. Casey,
    Thank you for not taking offense, one of the reasons I hesitated to post this is I needed photos to illustrate the points and obviously my intent is not to insult anyone. It's an important aspect of pulling together a room I think we often overlook and wanted to send out a reminder. From not hanging something properly, to faulty hardware, earthquakes and other natural disasters...plus curious hands and climbing kids...it's important to make conscious decisions when designing.
    Janell

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  54. An important part of a design is to consider how the space will be lived in. Thanks for this post. Safety is an important thing to consider, especially in children's rooms.

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  56. Late to the party but so pleased you referenced this post in today's post: I've been thinking for years that I was the only person in the world who freaked out over things hung over beds -- moving from the Midwest to California years ago was an eye opener for someone who thought earthquakes were really really scary. I see all these gorgeous designs in magazines and online and think "they will die in a big earthquake when that xyz hits them!" We may fill a room but over the bed is always bare.

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  57. Living in earthquake country there is no way I would ever hang anything over the bed that could hurt, break or fall. I have a light oil on canvas that has nothing breakable or sharp and I sleep easier...

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  58. When I was in high school, the painting above my bed fell on me in the middle of the night. I actually rolled over while clutching a pillow, and the pillow knocked it down. It was a huge glass frame and it came down right on my nose. I scared my parents half to death when I ran in their room with my hair in my face and blood coming from who knows where (my nose, naturally). I've been paranoid about this stuff ever since!

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