Grab a ladder!

06.27.13 LadderMy dad left a huge old ladder in my garage years ago. I have no idea why; probably to annoy me (and it worked). He frequently leaves unwieldy objects that he no longer wants in my garage. He denies that he does this, but excuse me! The 30-foot ladder (and 50-year-old floor polisher, etc.) are proof positive.

This ladder is so huge that I cannot lift it by myself, and, truth be told, I’ve never even considered it. But I have started thinking about projects – amazing things I could make out of that ladder. Have you ever really looked at a ladder? They’re gorgeous, sculpturally speaking. And the steps on a ladder are basically shelves.

Here are some very simple ideas to turn one of those extra ladders you have sitting around into a cool something for the house. Vintage ladders are awesome, but I love orange industrial ladders, too. Very colorful. Please don’t buy a new ladder. Check your garage and Craigslist for sweet finds.

Here’s a Pinterest board for ladders – they deserve a board of their own! Let’s look at three general categories for alternative ladder use:

Try a ladder as shelving. Whether it’s for books or plants, or as a bedside table, ladders are quick shelves. They are really great in the bathroom too, for towels, toiletries, you name it. A huge ladder or a little one, or a library-style ladder leaned up against the wall – every ladder can be a shelf or rack. Have you always wanted a quilt rack? Well, a library ladder is basically a quilt rack. Add some S-hooks and a ladder is a pot rack.

If you add some boards to it, your ladder transforms into a shelving unit. If you use two ladders plus boards, you have a bookcase or display cabinet. Would you like this in your home office? In your teen’s room (bolt it to the wall if small children are around – safety first), an apartment, anywhere? This is a grown-up version of cinder blocks and plywood, which turns out a very individual look.

Have you thought about turning a ladder on its side? Horizontally a ladder is a something new altogether – a drying rack,  hallway shelving, an entryway or mudroom shelf, a pot rack. My favorite use is for storing books.

Which one do you like best?


P.S. If you want to do some shopping, recently in Aurora I saw good ladders at two different stores. First, at the South End Antique Mall (about four or five blocks from the downtown area), they have ladders both outside and inside, ranging in price from $17.50 to $75. (Pictured above). At Home Again Antiques, my favorite store, they have a beautiful, solid and restored ladder for $200. (Pictured below, with my friend’s legs providing scale.)


Portlander Nancy Ranchel is a self-described accountant, design fan, serial re-modeler, compulsive re-user and blog writer.