Make display shelving
Convert a short wooden stepladder to shelving for displaying plants and collectibles. It’s as easy as one, two, three:
- Remove the folding metal spreader that holds the front and rear legs of the ladder together. Then position the ladder’s rear legs upright against the wall and attach two 1 x 2 cleats to fix the distance between the front and rear legs. Position the cleats so that their tops are level with the top of a rung.
- Each shelf will be supported at front by an existing rung. To support the back of each shelf, attach a cleat between the rear legs, positioning it at the same level as a rung.
- Cut plywood or boards to fit as shelves and screw them to the rungs and cleats. Now screw the centermost rear cleat to the wall and you’re done.
Construct a rustic indoor trellis
Give your vines and trailing plants something to climb on. Using wall anchors, attach vinyl-covered hooks to your wall and hang an attractive straight ladder (or a segment of one) from the hooks, positioning the ladder’s legs on the floor a couple of inches from the wall. It’s easy to train potted plants to grow up and around this rustic support. It looks nice on a porch too.
Display quilts and more
Don’t let your fancy stitching languish in the closet! For that homespun feel, a ladder is a great way to display lacework, crochet, quilts, and throws. To prevent rough surfaces from damaging delicate fabrics, smooth wooden ladder rungs with sandpaper or metal rungs with steel wool if necessary.
Create a garden focal point
Got some old wooden straight ladders around that you no longer trust? Show your whimsical side by using them to create a decorative garden archway. Cut two sections of old ladder to the desired height and position them opposite one another along a path. Screw the legs of each one to two strong posts sunk deeply into the soil. Cut a third ladder section to fit across the top of the two others and tie it to them using supple grapevine, young willow twigs, or heavy jute twine. Festoon your archway with fun and fanciful stuff, such as old tools, or let climbing plants clamber up and over it. It also works well as the entryway to an enclosed area.
Plop it down and plant it
When a ladder is truly on its last legs, it can still be of service lying down. On the ground, a straight ladder or the front part of a stepladder makes a shallow planter with ready-made sections that look sweet filled with annuals, herbs, or salad greens. After a couple of years of contact with soil, a wooden ladder will decompose, so don’t expect to use it again.
Make a temporary table
The big family picnic is a summertime staple, but where to put all the food? You can cook up a makeshift table in no time by placing a straight ladder across two sawhorses. Top it with plywood and cover it with a table-cloth. The ladder will provide strength to support your buffet, as well as any guests who might lean on it.
Make a pot rack
Accessorize your country kitchen with a pot rack made from a sawed-off section of a wooden straight ladder with thin, round rungs. Sand the cut ends smooth; then tie two pieces of sturdy rope to the rungs at either end. To suspend your pot rack, screw four large metal eye hooks into the ceiling, going into the joists; then tie the other ends of the ropes to them. Hang some S-hooks from the rungs to hold your kitchenware. Leave the rack unfinished if you want a rustic look. Or paint or stain it if you want a more finished look.