11 Ways to Decorate With Vintage Ladders

decorating with a vintage ladder

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

When a ladder is no longer safe to climb, it used to be forgotten about and exposed to the elements. In recent years, savvy homeowners have been repurposing these unused wooden gems into some fun home decor projects.

One tried-and-true way to add rustic appeal to your home is to decorate with ladders. A worn-out vintage ladder is filled with character and potential and can provide your home with a charming lived-in vibe.

But ladder projects aren't limited to people who love the farmhouse style. New ladder projects are sleek, modern and complement a contemporary design aesthetic. 

Get inspired to add some style and function to your home with these decorative wooden ladder ideas. 

  • 01 of 11

    Add Architectural Interest by Using a Ladder as a Beam

    Decorate with ladders in farmhouse style home
    Liz Marie Blog

    When a home has a vintage feel to it, a ladder could be hung just about anywhere and it would look good. This blogger decided to use a wooden ladder as a faux ceiling beam where one used to be in order to better define two rooms. If your ceilings are tall enough, consider dangling a ladder in a similar way in a larger doorway.

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  • 02 of 11

    Transform a Ladder into a Shelving Unit

    How to decorate with wooden ladders
    A Pair & A Spare

    The first step to recreating this look is to make the shelves, which is a relatively easy process. This project was made by adhering pine planks to the cross beams of an open ladder using L brackets. If you're having trouble finding a ladder-like this one, you can make your own using 2x2 boards.

    Create an alternate version of this shelf by adhering two opened ladders upside down on the wall to create a W. Next, add planks between the beams at varying heights and widths.

    The next step is figuring out what to display. What and how you display it can make the difference between your ladder looking bland or designer-worthy.

    Here are some ideas:

    • Use the entire unit as a bookshelf.
    • Set it up in the kitchen for dishes.
    • Store in the bedroom for shoes and purses.
    • Keep unit in shed or garage for potting supplies.
    • Organize office supplies in decorative bins.
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  • 03 of 11

    Hang Wire Baskets from Ladder Rungs for Extra Bathroom Storage

    Decorate with ladder in bathroom
    Iron Accents

    By adding wire baskets to a leaning ladder, the potential storage space is multiplied. Use this idea in a bathroom to store toiletries as you see here. Also, this project can easily be incorporated into a kitchen or pantry for fresh produce.

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  • 04 of 11

    Hang Industrial Lighting from a Vintage Ladder

    Decorative wooden ladders for a light fixture

    B Vintage

    One common way people decorate with wooden ladders is to chain them to the ceiling horizontally. If adhered to the ceiling correctly, the ladder should be able to support enough weight to store things on top. If you want more design and less function, use the ladder as an accent for light fixtures over the dining table. 

    Other Items to Hang on a Decorative Ladder Chained to the Ceiling

    • Pots and pans
    • Garland and greenery
    • Mason jar luminaries
    • Bundles of dried herbs
    • Clothing in the laundry room
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  • 05 of 11

    Adhere Some Family Photos Using Twine

    Decorating with vintage wooden ladders
    Kammy's Korner

    Vintage ladders hung directly on the wall are versatile because you can change up the decor and photos often. If the rungs are thick enough, they'll act as shelves and hold up small items of interest.

    If the ladder is thin, stick to simple and lightweight items like antique photographs in varying sizes like you see here. Some people hang painted ladders on the wall and leave the interior completely empty. The choice is up to you. 

    Since ladders like this are long and narrow, this application would work well over a sofa. 

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  • 06 of 11

    Create a Library by Adding Castors to a Wooden Ladder

    How to make a library ladder

    You don't need an entire room to have a library in your home. All you need is one wall of built-ins, which can quickly turn into something of a showpiece by incorporating a vintage ladder that's been tweaked. To get this look, purchase a library ladder kit to convert an old ladder into something much more prestigious.

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  • 07 of 11

    Utilize a Vintage Step Ladder as a Plant Stand

    How to decorate with vintage ladders
    Little Vintage Nest

    Small step ladders work well as nightstands or end tables, but they also make quirky plant stands. To keep your plant stand looking like a designer's, incorporate plants of varying heights and sizes. If houseplants aren't an option, create other small vignettes using decor from around your home. 

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  • 08 of 11

    Create an Open Concept Closet

    Decorative wooden ladder DIY projects
    A Pair & A Spare

    There are so many smart clothing storage ideas when closet space is lacking, and this is one of the more creative ones. This ladder project is a variation of the shelving unit seen above, only it uses two individual ladders instead of one that is connected.

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  • 09 of 11

    Drape Vintage Linens in the Dining Room

    How to decorate with wooden ladders
    Faded Charm

    Blanket ladders are popping up in so many homes, likely because this is the easiest ladder decor project to implement. All you need to do is find an old ladder, lean it up against the wall, then choose which items you want to hang on it. If you have children in your home or are hanging items that are heavier, make sure you adhere to the top of the ladder to the wall and the bottom to the floor. 

    Other Items to Hang on a Leaning Ladder:

    • Quilts
    • Towels
    • Throw Blankets
    • Magazines
    • Pots and pans
    • Scarfs
    • Necklaces
    • High Heeled Shoes
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  • 10 of 11

    Hang a Wreath on a Leaning Ladder

    How to style a wooden ladder

    Just about anything can be hung from a ladder using twine, but how and what is used makes all the difference. This look is completed using a faux boxwood wreath works, alternating mason jars, and a framed quote. When the seasons change, change out the greeting and add something more festive, like string lights, to the mix. 

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  • 11 of 11

    Repurpose a Ladder into a Desk

    How to repurpose vintage ladders

    The best ladder projects are when the piece is completely transformed into something new. This ingenious DIY utilizes two old ladders to create a one of a kind writing desk that is now something of a conversation piece.