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Step up your decor

By on July 9, 2011

Old wooden ladders can be found at garage sales, estate sales and flea markets. It might be too old to be used for its intended purpose, but if you see one (folding or straight) marked low or free at the “curbside mall,” it can be creatively used in your home and garden. Ladders can be left in a weathered, rustic state, or get a can of clearance paint at your local home improvement store or use up any leftover paint you’ve been storing to give it a more modern look.
How have you used an old wooden ladder?
Here are a few ideas to put an old secondhand ladder to use rather than pay retail price (which can cost upward of a couple hundred dollars) on a decorative ladder:

ladder shelf


You can take two or more folding ladders and add wood planks between them to make shelving (CDs and DVDs, or even fabric and yarn could be displayed). You could simply hang a folding ladder horizontally on a wall. (Think tall books toward the bottom step and shorter books toward the top step.) Hang a straight ladder or two horizontally to hold framed photos and collectibles.


Indoors or outdoors, a folding ladder can hold potted plants. Lay a straight ladder flat on the ground to separate garden plantings such as herbs. Ladders make a great trellis for your garden vine plants. (Clematis would look lovely, but vegetables would work well.) It would be pretty to use for climbing houseplants (philodendron, ivy and pothos come to mind) on a front porch, too.


For use in the living room or office, or in the bedroom, a small folding ladder makes a lovely side table or nightstand.

ladder towels


Lean a straight ladder against a wall and use it to display magazines, artwork, quilts and blankets, vintage tablecloths or bath towels. And speaking of towels, a wooden ladder propped against the house is a whimsical addition at a lakefront cottage; if you have a backyard pool, use it to dry wet towels from swimming. Or simply add groupings of multicolored citronella candles on a folding ladder. You can use wire or hooks to display hanging lanterns on it during the summer.

ladder hanging pots


Hang a straight ladder from the ceiling with chains and use it as a pot rack. Place baskets on top of the ladder to hold kitchen items that you don’t use daily or to store supplies such as napkins, taper candles, extra sponges and paper towels so they’re close by, but not taking valuable cabinet or counter space. You can display your picnic basket, prompting you to use it more often this summer. Also, use the ladder as a makeshift drying rack for clothes or flower/herb bundles.


Straight and folding ladders can be used to organize shoes, sweaters, purses, stuffed animals, etc. You can attach wire baskets and use it for extra storage, too. Consider having a wire basket for each family member. It can be a convenient place to store hats, mittens, scarves, school work, mail, keys, etc.


Use a ladder to display holiday cards and hang stockings, ornaments and lights. As a focal point, place a fresh poinsettia on top or attach a holiday wreath to the front.


photos by norwichnuts


  1. Kelli

    7/10/2011 at 7:53 am

    Another good idea is the drop side cribs. Since they can’t be sold and probably shouldn’t be used they have openings just like the ladders but smaller so you can add more thing (like blankets).

  2. Jen@FrugalForTwo

    7/20/2011 at 11:29 am

    I’m LOVING the bathroom towel rack idea…so cute, and perfect for limited space (an issue I have in my bathroom). Just curious, because we are currently on the hunt for cheap nightstands…how would the ladder nightstand idea work out?? Need a visual or description…thanks bunches!! 🙂 Jen

    • Brian Rowland

      9/25/2011 at 10:50 pm

      You can use the ladder idea like in the bathroom and mount pre-cut square wood boards from Home Depot/Lowes/Rona to the rungs at various heights. You could also scout out new home sub-divisions for sink cut outs from bathroom or kitchen counter tops that have various colours of laminate on them and paint the cut edges in contrasting colours and screw from the underside to the rungs of the ladder to make the shelves. A full size ladder could be cut in half for night tables or used full size for bookcases in the study/home office.

  3. Sara Noel

    7/20/2011 at 11:47 am

    It’s made from a small folding step ladder. Like this: or this
    Would be cute on a porch, patio or in the garden, too.

  4. Eren Mckay

    10/10/2011 at 8:45 pm

    These tips are really awesome. Since I live in a very small apartment, I can especially resonate with the hanging things from ceiling tip. I do that all the time..not only to decorate but even to organize certain things.
    All the best,

  5. Thomas Jay

    6/30/2014 at 3:13 am

    I noticed that you are selling this pot rack on Etsy. You say it holds up to one hundred pounds. Have you loaded it up with that much weight? I am curious. Thanks for your help.

    The listing is It’s being sold by KnockOnWoodCustom. Is that your shop?

    Thanks again.

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