Clever Ways To Repurpose A Ladder

Old or antique ladders can have a lot of charm, but they also might not be the most useful — or safe — option when completing more modern home improvement projects. However, that doesn't mean that you should simply throw your old ladders into a landfill. Their lives don't have to be over just because they are no longer suited for their original intended purpose. You can repurpose old ladders and make them into something new, functional, and stylish that will add charm to your home. Just think of all the rustic blanket ladders or modern plant ladders you see in big box stores nowadays — you can easily DIY those. 

And, even better, many of these DIY projects only require a few other materials and can be completed by beginners. It's a budget-friendly way to upcycle an old tool. If you're ready to find a way to repurpose your old ladders, keep reading.

Make a blanket rack

If you have an antique wooden ladder, you can use it as a functional and attractive solution for holding blankets in a living room, bedroom, or even a baby's nursery. If you lean the ladder against the wall, each rung offers an ideal spot to drape a blanket or throw over. This not only keeps them easily accessible but adds an eye-catching piece to your home's decor.

Before you set your ladder up against the wall to hold blankets, there are a few quick things you'll want to do to get it ready. Start by sanding down any rough areas and patching any cracks or splits to ensure no one will be accidentally injured by the older wood material. Splinters are never any fun! Then, apply the stain or paint color of your choice to help the ladder coordinate with the rest of your decor. Finally, lean it against a corner in the room and drape the blankets over the rungs. Take care when folding the blankets to leave specific design elements more visible in the room.

Build a shelf

One of the best ways to repurpose a wooden ladder is to transform it into a rustic shelf for your living room. You can almost visualize precisely what the finished project will look like by thinking about how the ladder looks when opened up and what adding some shelves going across each rung would do to its appearance. Start by measuring the width of each step on the ladder and the depth to the back of the frame to determine the dimensions for each of your shelves. Then, cut the shelves, along with some back support beams to hold them up.

After all of the wood for the shelves is cut, assess the condition of the ladder to determine if anything needs to be sanded down or repaired. Then, paint or stain the ladder and shelves, and give everything time to dry thoroughly. Once dry, line up each shelf over one rung to determine where the back support beams should go. Attach the back beams with screws, then secure the shelves across the steps and support beams. Now, your new ladder shelf is ready to be decorated and become a focal point in your space.

Hang a unique light fixture

The ways you can use a ladder are not limited to leaving it standing up on the floor. In fact, quite the opposite is true. You can explore hanging your old ladder from the ceiling for many more project ideas, including making a unique light fixture for your dining room, bedroom, or any other space in your home. For this project, you'll want to sand and stain/paint your ladder as desired.

Once you have prepared the frame, attach four hooks to one of its flat sides, and use chains to hang it from corresponding hooks in the ceiling. However, it's important to note that ladders are typically heavier than most light fixtures. So, ensure your hooks are well-supported and designed to bear such weight. After hanging the ladder, you can string some battery-powered string lights around it, making it the perfect addition to illuminate your next event. You could even add some greenery around the lights for more visual appeal.

Make a plant stand

Another great use for a ladder is to repurpose it into an indoor or outdoor plant stand. If you have a freestanding ladder, the process will be relatively simple. However, if you have a leaning ladder, you can still modify its design by adding a base and supports to make it suitable for holding plants. To begin, make sure to sand the ladder down and remove any splintering wood for safety reasons. Then, apply a stain or paint color that complements your decor scheme. Depending on where you plan to put the ladder, painting it white or staining it to match your other furniture pieces could create a stunning effect. If you plan to keep the plant stand outside, be sure to choose a weather-resistant paint or stain to protect it from the elements.

Once you have prepared the ladder, creating shelves to accommodate your plants is a simple process. Cut a wooden board to the width of the ladder. Then, you can stain or paint the shelves to match the ladder, or create a playful look by using different colors for each shelf. Finally, use a drill to secure the shelves into place, and you're ready to showcase your indoor plants.

Spread some holiday cheer

Tired of the fuss of a real tree or the storage concerns of an artificial one? Consider transforming an old freestanding ladder into your Christmas tree for the next holiday season. Begin by opening up the ladder, then string some festive lights around it and adorn it with ornaments. To make the hanging process easier, try wrapping twine around the front of the ladder at various heights, or hang the ornaments directly from the lights. Finally, crown the top of the "tree" with a star or another unique decoration and plug it in for a dazzling display.

You can keep this DIY project relatively simple by leaving the ladder in its original condition and color. Alternatively, you can make it a bit more involved by sanding, painting, or staining it before decorating it. If you decide to paint it, you could choose a forest green color to mimic the look of a real tree or stick with something cleaner and more modern, such as white.

Create a hanging pot rack

Create a unique and practical centerpiece for your kitchen by fashioning a hanging pot rack from a ladder. This functional piece adds visual interest to the space while freeing up valuable cabinet storage and decluttering your counters. A single, leaning ladder is the best choice for this project, but you can also modify the design of a freestanding ladder by removing the support and back pieces. Depending on your kitchen's size and your hanging requirements, you may need to cut the ladder down to a more manageable height.

After you've determined how big you want the ladder to be, sand it down and paint it. Think about the other colors in your kitchen to choose a coordinating — or possibly contrasting — color. Mount hooks in the ceiling (make sure they are braced in a beam to support the weight of the ladder and all of your cookware), then attach the ladder to the hooks using chains. Once it is securely in place, hang one or two large s-hooks from each ladder rung. You can then hang a pot on each hook.

Hang bath towels

Looking for a stylish storage solution for your bathroom towels that makes them easily accessible to guests and yourself? Look no further than an old ladder. As you'll be keeping the ladder in the bathroom, it's recommended that you waterproof it by first sanding it down and then applying a stain sealant to protect it from moisture damage.

Once the ladder is prepared and dry, find a suitable wall space in your bathroom where it can be propped up. Then, you can fold towels to hang over each rung. Consider pairing each bath towel with a washcloth or hand towel in a complementary color to make the ladder both functional and stylish. Another option is to hang smaller s-hooks from each rung and hang your towels over them. Choose the option you think would look best in your space and be the most functional for your needs.

Decorate your home

As you may have already discovered, the possibilities for repurposing an old ladder are only as limited as your own imagination. One more thing you can do with an old ladder is turn it into a unique piece of art to proudly display in your home. There are so many options for meeting this goal, so be sure to let your creativity shine through. Consider painting the ladder with one or more eye-catching colors to make it stand out, or stick with a more modern white or darker brown.

Then, you can add some creative touches to the design by painting scrollwork on the ladder, wrapping it with vines or flowers, hanging a wreath or piece of artwork over one of the rungs, or anything else you can think of. You could even swap out these decorations with the changing seasons. When it comes to displaying your ladder art, there are several options to consider. You may opt to lean it against the wall for a more casual look, or mount it on the wall for a more permanent and secure display.