Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ladder Love Part 2

I promised yesterday to return today with the ladder project I made for my son and daughter in law’s TV room. And since it is still (barely) today, I want you to notice I haven’t broken my promise to you. ---Although I do believe I’ll have to reconsider making rash promises like that again, my work schedule this week is pretty grueling and I was really stressed about making this deadline!----

OK, back to the story. My son (J) got himself a GIGANTIC TV for above the fireplace when he and his wife bought their 1st house last summer. The house is older (well over 100 yrs) and has a formal front parlor with French doors separating it from the tiny sitting room (TV room now). 204172_701_17

This is a picture of the room from the real estate listing. You can see the painted fieldstone fireplace (non-functioning). Above the fireplace there now is a TV that’s nearly as wide as the mantel! There is a doorway to the left, and to the right of the fireplace is a narrow wall with a small return before the doorway to the dining room.

I know, I know, by now you’re thinking “ So what’s your point and what does this have to do with ladders?” right?

I’m getting there! With the TV mounted above the fireplace there wasn’t any space to put the many toys components J had to go with that TV, you know, stuff like the cable converter, the receiver for the surround sound system, DVR, Blue Ray player, Xbox, Play Station, Wii….etc, etc, etc! I did say toys, right?

Where the heck was all that going to fit?

Enter the Ladder part of the story. See? It’s all coming together now! J had a very old 8 ft tall stepladder in his garage that came with the house when they bought it. It had a broken step and was pretty rickety. He was talking about throwing it away because it wasn’t safe to use. My first thought was “I’ll take it!”

Then came the idea, wouldn’t the ladder be the perfect thing for that little wall next to the TV?

His response; “Huh? Uh, noooo. I don’t really think that will work Mom. It’s all dirty and paint covered and well, it’s a LADDER for gosh sake.” (sigh, sometimes they just don’t “get it”)

Silly boy. Of course I would fix it up, it will be just like those bookcases that look ladder-like at Pier One Imports.

You’ve seen them.

Pyramid Shelf Pier One Imports

Or this one, from American Signature.

American Signature Four Tier Shelf

Who would ever pay for one of those if the real deal was available? I mean, really, aren’t they just ladders?

So I got the ok to make it into one of these shelf units,--- as long as it was black.

I didn’t take a before photo of this ladder. It was different from a normal step ladder in that the back section was a straight ladder that could be removed and used014 separately. This did not have the metal braces that attach the 2 parts and let it open and close like a normal step ladder. This picture of the top hardware maybe shows it better than I can explain.

As soon as I got it home I removed the back straight ladder section and spray painted the front section black.

Because the ladder was 8 ft to begin with I had to cut some off the top to make it work. It would have stuck too far out from the wall had I kept the full height. I chose to take the narrower top 18” off in order to keep the wider bottom part intact.

I had to figure out what angle it needed to be leaning against the wall at to keep the rungs level. For me that was the trickiest part. To do this I attached some temporary back legs with carriage bolts. I could move the back legs to the angle I needed, checking level each time.


The bottom legs could only come out 22 inches from the wall so they wouldn’t stick too far out into the doorway.


Once the angle was decided, I cut the top rung so that it would lean right up against the back wall. I then secured the back legs to the front with scrap strips of wood to keep the frame from moving while I worked on the shelves.


Each shelf is made with a different scrap piece of wood I had on hand.

I try not to buy anything new for projects of this type. The “rule” is to use only what is on hand at the moment.

Makes for some interesting combinations of wood and hardware……


I wanted to keep the original steps as part of the shelf. I could have put the shelf on top of the step, but that would have covered the grooves and aged wood grain in each one.


In this picture you can see how I attached each shelf to the front step (using mending plates) and the back legs (small metal corner braces). (Tip, I often re-use the hardware off Cribs I’ve curb-shopped. The corner braces are perfect for jobs like this.)


Added a small back ledge to each shelf, and trim along the edges to give a more finished look. Took out the carriage bolts, secured the back legs in place with screws and filled the holes.


Added a spare piece of stair tread to the top to make a more decorative top shelf. (remember I had cut off the original top step)


Primed ………


and Painted


Staged in my living room.


Check out the front of this shelf. I love this!


Pictured below in it’s new home, with equipment in place.

2010-02-15 12.41.11

2010-02-15 12.41.28

And there you have it, the ladder remained in it’s original home. No trash heap for this old fella!

Now something for me……(fess up time)

Since I didn’t use the original back section of the ladder to make the shelf unit, and had been longing for a ladder like Donna @ Funky Junk Interiors used in her white trash bedroom. (This whole room is on my "must try someday" list in my inspiration folder)

Funky Junk Interiors white ladder

I decided that this leftover ladder was just the thing to try that look with. So I took the liberty of applying a little whitewash.

Some light sanding….

Added some folded quilts,

And there you have it, my own (stolen) white ladder.

Currently used in the living room to hold old quilts while bringing in some extra color to a dark wall.


See, I coughed up yet another confession. Hope the kids don’t come and take the other half of the ladder back now..…..

Gotta go now, it’s trash day somewhere!


I'm linking up to

Beyond the Picket Fence 100 ideas under $100

Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Night Special

Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Feature Friday


  1. Rose, I love it! I really like the edge, being able to see the ladder rungs, and all in black makes the presence of all the controllers and electronics just disappear - wow, you really did a great job!

  2. That turned out perfect! It looks so savvy in that cozy spot too! You are AWESOME!

  3. Rose... I love it! J is a lucky guy to have such a creative momma!
    Great tutorial of how you did it too.
    BUT, WHY have you NEVER told me about the crib hardware? I have several in the back yard ready to go to the curb... it's a good thing I read this BEFORE I got rid of them. Wasn't I just telling you yesterday how I hate to buy hardware? (hooks, etc)
    Thanks for the great inspiration girl!

  4. Those look great! I love the look of the last ladder with the quilts. And the fact that you put that other ladder together all on your own---inspirational!

  5. Rose,
    Your idea is sooo how you made this...really COOL! Hope you have a FUN weekend:) Come by NIFTY THRIFTY TUESDAYS and show her off!


  6. What a great tute--that turned out so well! I love ladders, thanks for sharing!

  7. How fantastic - a twofer! I've also longed for a ladder like Donna's AND one like you made your son. I need to keep my eyes open on garbage day. But seriously, thanks for sharing your instructions.

  8. Fabulous AND useful idea! I can visualize that apparatus most anywhere in the house as it takes up more vertical space. Excellent project!

    Thanks for linking it up to SNS! And for the shoutout on my own ladder. :)

    FJ Donna

  9. you are so awesome! you inspire me!!

  10. You did an amazing job Rose... I absolutely love it. I have one of those collecting spider homes in my garage... now if I could just find an empty

    Hugs, Deb

  11. Wow! I love them both! I have some store-bought ladder shelves (bought for a deal, but still spendy in comparison) and I can tell you they are NOWHERE as nice as the one you made! I love that you kept the steps! WOWSA!

  12. That piece is awesome! You did a wonderful job making it and I like the fact that it looks like a real ladder. It has more character and was a lot cheaper!

  13. Just catching up on your blog. What great us for the ladder to have it hold the components.


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