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desertdance

Unsafe House for Parties

We purchased this custom home marketed as "entertainer property" a couple years ago. It's so perfect for the 4th of July! Huge view deck allows us to see fireworks all over the valley below. Waterfall pool and fire pit create great ambiance.

It's become a family-close neighbor tradition, however at least two people always trip going up one step out of the carpeted living room onto the tile entry with red wine and broken glass everywhere. I may have to get a toddler gate, but it's a wide opening about 6' across. It's on the diagonal and I am not sure how to even attach a gate. I'm thinking maybe two silk trees offset. One on the tile and one on the carpet. Something that alerts to the difference in heights.

Luckily the only thing hurt so far is feelings. They are embarrassed for tripping and all apologize for breaking my beautiful wine glasses, but I don't care about those. The glasses are big and great, but I don't have a matching set. I pick up 2 or 3 cheap at a thrift store now and then. They look like they match, but they don't.

Last night we discovered a new hazard. My DIL's dad was exiting the kitchen and made eye contact with people coming toward him. He tripped on the bottom staircase step that juts out about a foot. Next year, I'll put a plant there... I called and checked on him this morning. He's OK, but a little sore.

I'm a little too busy being hostess to watch and warn everyone, and they've all been here before. You'd think they'd know about those steps by now. Alcohol does make reaction times slower.


Comments (21)

  • musicgale
    6 years ago

    We have a step like that Suzi. I put a patterned rug down on the drop into the living room. So far, that has helped.


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  • ravencajun Zone 8b TX
    6 years ago

    We have 2 step up down areas in our house. We had people not noticing them and falling too. So ugly as it is I put down a strip of orange caution tape at both areas and I put a throw rug on the lower section which causes an attention grab. This has worked wonderfully for us. I hate the tape but I like it better than someone getting seriously hurt in my home. When my mother almost cracked her head open when she was here a few years ago that did it. Try using a contrasting pattern throw rug as an attention grab, but my guess is that will not be enough and I doubt the tree will be either. The orange tape was the ticket, now you can get tape in lots of colors so maybe some other attention grabbing color would work, I had the orange on hand. They do make little stick on and installed step lights just for those kinds of places too. But ours is in a high light area so it would not help in the day time.


    Suzi AKA DesertDance So CA Zone 9b thanked ravencajun Zone 8b TX
  • chisue
    6 years ago

    The warning tape sounds like a great idea -- and it's not permanent. Interior designers love this one- and two-step dramatic effect, but it's hazardous.

    DH and I looked at a lovely ranch home before we built our current house. It had a 'sunken living room' with two twelve-foot wide hardwood stairs leading down to it from both the foyer and the dining room. Very striking, but courting disaster!

    Suzi AKA DesertDance So CA Zone 9b thanked chisue
  • Lindsey_CA
    6 years ago

    Could you put some sort of decorative railing (see-through, of course) at the step-down? One that would come in from both sides, but leaving an open area in the middle.... It would highlight the fact that there is something to be aware of, but not block the view.

    Suzi AKA DesertDance So CA Zone 9b thanked Lindsey_CA
  • Suzi AKA DesertDance So CA Zone 9b
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    I like the warning tape! Also the lighting. It would be very costly to put up a railing and would ruin the design of the house, so that is probably not an option. DH remembered he has a couple hazard cones in the garage. Those may come out for sure at the next party. It's not like we party all the time. Mainly Holidays. Thanks for these great ideas!


  • mdln
    6 years ago

    Make a standing joke about it with bold warnings, cone, sign, tape, etc.


  • lilacinjust
    6 years ago

    Be sure you're covered for liability with your home owners policy.

    We have a sunk in great room and it's really tricky for my in-laws.

    Suzi AKA DesertDance So CA Zone 9b thanked lilacinjust
  • Suzi AKA DesertDance So CA Zone 9b
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Our liability insurance is up to date and it's a good policy. Still, I don't want anyone to trip ever again! This includes me. :-)


  • ravencajun Zone 8b TX
    6 years ago

    I really don't like the step down at all. I can't get down there with my wheelchair or scooter I have a rolling chair I use in the kitchen and laundry room. Not enough room for ramps.

  • Suzi AKA DesertDance So CA Zone 9b
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    ravencajun, I'm sorry about your disability. You would never probably buy the house that we did. Good news is none of our family or neighbors need wheelchairs, and I don't want that step to be a reason for one of us to be in that position. There is room for a ramp, and I have thought of that for future times. Another outrageous expense. I'm liking the lights, the cones and the warning tape more and more. The lights are subtle. The cones and warning tape will get attention and make people laugh. BUT they will be aware of the step! Love it!!


  • vicsgirl
    6 years ago

    i've often seen signs in businesses/restaurants saying "Watch Your Step" to alert people of uneven flooring.

  • plllog
    6 years ago

    It occurred to me that a positive barrier might be better at a party than subtle cues like the trees. If you have a little money to throw at it (less than $200) you could get nice looking crowd control stanchions and ropes which you could stretch across the hazard area, leaving a doorway sized opening. Or Mdln's cones, especially if they're waist high.


  • rob333 (zone 7a)
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    When you say "step", how big is the difference? Does it just need a reducer for the transition, or do you mean like a full step difference? If it's smallish, you could just put something like this on it.

    where the picture came from

  • Elmer J Fudd
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    We have the proverbial step-down living room. While I want to do anything possible to prevent guests from being injured, I wouldn't consider making my house look tacky and like a construction zone when entertaining. You know, you can hit a tree or a rock wall when parking your car. You can fall down when you get out of it. You can miss the few steps up at the front door. Those are things everyone needs to deal with on their own.

    The problems we've encountered (including people trying to walk through the non-sliding part of sliding glass doors) often come from people having a bit too much to drink or being inattentive. I can and do act when I think someone has reached their alcohol limit, but inattentive or otherwise dumb people are how they are. I can't protect them from themselves.

  • ravencajun Zone 8b TX
    6 years ago

    oh no in our house it is an actual step down like going down steps. When we bought the house I was not in the situation I am currently in and really didn't think much about that little step in the two areas.
    And it is in an area we use many times per day. You come into the house from the side door into the office sun room area which is a very long big room it is higher than the rest of the house, so you must step down to go either into the den or step down to go into the laundry room and hall way to the kitchen. Luckily it is all tile there so the tape works well the only area that is carpet is in the den so there I put the throw rug and the tape.
    I had a garden club meeting here, we have several older members, and sure as heck one of them tripped over the step up from the kitchen and fell. Thankfully not bad and no injuries but it was a definite concern. We ended up blocking off that route so they had to go through the den at least if they fell there it was onto carpet.


  • wildchild2x2
    6 years ago

    I have the same step-down in my living room off the entry and hall. In 39 years we've had a lot of people in the house from babies and toddlers and my disabled mother in law. No one has have fallen or tripped because of the change in levels. Not even my DH who has been known to fall just walking down a flat surface.

    The safety tape and the cones just had me SMH. LOL We don't generally serve a lot of alcohol here but when we do its with meals and we would never give our guests the opportunity to get so buzzed they would lose judgement. Maybe cut back on the wine?

    Like Snidley said there are hazards everywhere one goes. I stumbled on an unexpected sidewalk edge when walking in a crowd two days ago. You shouldn't have to baby proof your house for normal functioning adults.

  • Fun2BHere
    6 years ago

    My house has one step down into the living room, the bedroom and the guest bath from the foyer. I've had any number of people miss the step; most were unimpaired by alcohol. I think the problem is that there's no contrast as the flooring is the same hardwood and not everyone's vision is 20/20. I would have no problem adding some tape to the edge for parties. I might choose a pattern more decorative, but still attention-getting. I actually think the fall hazard sign is kind of amusing and people would certainly get the message.


  • plllog
    6 years ago

    I think a lot of it is also about size and placement. One relative has a hall with a low ceiling with one completely open wall into the living room, which is a step down and has a vaulted ceiling. The floor is the same, but the hall is long and pretty wide. I don't think anyone has missed the step. Another relative had a house where there was a parquet entry, not much wider than the door, that led past the partially open living room and dining room, which were a step down. They had a very different color and value carpet. Everybody knew about the step, but people fell off of it all the time. I think partially it's because it was the entry, and narrow. People answering the door back up, people coming in from bright sun don't have the depth of field to notice the height difference, there are too many people in one place, etc. It was really dangerous. Luckily it only led to minor injuries.


  • ravencajun Zone 8b TX
    6 years ago

    Alcohol is never involved here. So that can be left out of the equation.

    Not everyone has perfect eyesight , and not everyone is looking straight down when walking through a room, not everyone has perfect agility and walking skills. If you are looking up at the room or people in the room it's very easy to not notice a small step. The view is eye level. It has happened several times with a range of individuals none of which were on drugs or drinking alcohol or impaired in any way. Trips happen, it's certainly not uncommon. Having something of contrast there at the junction to catch the eye is helpful. I would much prefer my guest not be injured, embarrassed, or flustered by a trip so I find it quite simple to install a strip of tape and a contrasting rug to aid in the safety of everyone. If you have never tripped in your life you are lucky.

  • FlamingO in AR
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I would put up a couple of those portable posts and string a plastic chain or velvet rope between them, like at a bank or fast-food restaurant or theater, that stops people and draws their attention. They can open the barrier to pass thru. Then put them away in the closet til the next party.