Blanket Storage Shelves Out of My Grandpa’s Old Wooden Ladder

2 Materials
4 Hours

This is not my first rodeo when it comes to turning ladders into blanket racks. My first attempt was my Grandpa’s HUGE old ladder that hung off the side of the old garage for decades. I’m using that one in my master closet holding all my high heals, throws and scarves. I have just a silly amount of blankets in my living room and I won’t give up a single one of them so just a hanging rack wasn’t going to do, in fact, I needed storage shelves!

I have two very old and very rickety wooden ladders that every member of my family has yelled at me whenever they’ve seen me using them lol.

The story behind my two old ladders is pretty cool though. While I was renovating the house I found the shorter of the two in a shed from my Grandpa who lived here. Than, one random day, my brother dropped the taller ladder off saying he thought it belonged with me.

It was a ladder from my other Grandpa!

So here I have two very old ladders, one from each Grandpa 🙂 I chose the tallest of the two for this project (the ladder my bro dropped off) as neither ladder is really safe to use anymore.

I did some looking online of how other people have converted old ladders into shelves and blanket racks etc and one idea caught my eye. I didn’t have room to have the ladder spread out to its full size but I thought I could still make shelves out of it. So, I pressed the backside of the ladder flat against the wall.

(For those wondering why this ladder had “booties” I had wrapped the feet with rags and tape years ago so it would be safe on my floors during the renovation – so that’s what’s going on there lol.)

The first of the modifying I did was to cut nearly three inches off of the back A frame of the ladder. This got the steps of the ladder and the top closer to level so they would better support my shelves.

Lodi: What are you gonna make the shelves out of?

Me: I’m gonna go ask the barn what she thinks.

One weekend we trooped through the snow out to my old barn together. I have done a VERY good job using anything salvageable out of the barn so I didn’t have a ton of hope of finding anything that would be right. (And you all know I hate having to buy new wood ever for anything if I can help it.)

Oh ye of little faith!An ancient, falling down, bead board cabinet half buried beneath a pile of old wood was the perfect solution. We dug it out, ripped off the doors and brought them inside for me to use. (They absolutely DO NOT make things like they used to, an ikea cabinet would have literally dissolved out there by now.)

The doors on the cabinet were in actually VERY good shape!

Creating the shelves on the ladder was a bigger pain in the butt than I expected. None of the rungs matched up perfectly from one side to the other so I ended up having to us L brackets for all of the back shelf supports.

The bead board looks nice as shelves though I think!

I did some light sanding and serious cleaning over the whole thing before I sealed it in with two coats of polycrylic. I was so totally impressed on how sturdy it ended up. It completely stands by itself NO PROBLEM!

The location of my new ladder shelf was something I went back and forth with for a while. At first I was going to put it on the opposite corner wall but this way made more sense to be able to tuck my chair in front of it and still have easy access.

I like how it fills up the corner and, of course, the storage it gave me is absolutely awesome!

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  2 questions
  • Valarie Ray Valarie Ray on Feb 27, 2022

    How do you keep it from folding up on you ? It would be HORRIBLE for everything to end up on the floor!!!!

  • Shuganne Shuganne on Apr 02, 2022

    I wonder if the steps and the back rungs ever lined up level, when it was first built and used as a ladder? Some ladders I've seen don't even have the same quantity of steps and rungs. I know the bead board shelves cover the back rungs very well, but as you have matching amounts, it's a shame you couldn't have done more adjustments to make them level without using L- brackets. That said, I am going to go excavating in the back of the shed, to see what I can see. Maybe I'll be eating my words when I try to replicate your gorgeous project. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Now, another question for you, and the HT community in general. If I find the one I'm thinking of, it will be an old and well used wood ladder. Should I scrape off the old paint splatters and sand it down to fresh wood, or just wash it, and love and appreciate it's "age spots?" Did you? (Maybe seal it, so my neuroses don't have to wonder about lead paint problems?)

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  • Linda Abate Linda Abate on Feb 19, 2022

    Such a nice way to display your comf7y and cozy blankets/quilts, but what better way than on grandpa's old ladder. I have seen these made into plant stands, but never the way you have utilized such a gem. GREAT JOB.

  • Carole White Carole White on Feb 21, 2022

    @Mar52206692, it was very similar to this process actually! My "found" ladder is only about 4ft tall, so I was easily able to have it fully open in a corner of my living room for all 4 cats to enjoy. I had scrap wood to use on each level for the "shelves", screwed them into place, covered some foam pieces with fabric and stuck that to each level with velcro and that was about it! I'll try to insert a picture here