How to use a Ladder as Decor

How to add shelves to a ladderHow to retrofit a ladder for shelvesWe are a little ladder obsessed. I'm not sure what it is but we use ladders for everything from reaching high places (duh, that's what ladders are for!) to using them as a stand to photograph recipe creations on. Elsie found this inexpensive ladder at a flea market and wanted to add some simple shelves for holding books or potted plants.Tips for painting a ladderThe paint color she choose is Golden Avocado (from Valspar). Adding shelves to the ladder was a similar process as this golden side table. Trying to retrofit a ladder for shelves proved to be a little bit more complicated than I anticipated. Here's why.How to retro fit shelves to a ladderI thought simply adding a few planks of wood the appropriate length would be enough but then I found that the rungs on one side of the ladder were slightly shorter than the other. This caused our shelves to slope downward, so much so that I worried display items might slide if we didn't try to fix the issue.Tips for using wood glueOur quick fix solution was to add a short piece of wood to the edge of the shelf planks to try and give the shelf more height. We used wood glue to secure the pieces together. In the above photo I have the shelf laying upside down while the glue dried. After the shelves were completed we finished painting and put everything together.DIY ladder display shelvesFrom this angle you can see how many planks we ended up using for each shelf. The shelves are not perfect but they look great in this display and I love how you can easily remove them to either repaint or use the ladder for it's original purpose. xo. Emma + Elsie

  • I just finished painting my ladder and was at a stand still about the shelfs for the plants. Thanks, you nailed IT.

  • Great idea…Never thought of this one…I’m new to your blog but following it ever so closely now!! 🙂

  • Brilliant!! Usually the ladder is stored in hiding in the attic somewhere.. but you make it look so good, that I want to go get it out and give it a fresh bright coat of paint and then flaunt in the living room!!


  • this blog is such a wealth of inspiration it’s crazy. i’m overwhelmed by all the projects you guys have inspired in my head!


  • I absolutely love this. And I love the colour! Pinning this for later!

  • this is really awesome. You make me want to make a ladder display.

  • I am definitely doing this. We have a step ladder that is so old I’m afraid to climb up it. I love the color of the paint. Great idea.

  • Nice idea to give the ladder a make over to use it as a board for plants. And I have to say you choose a nice colour!

  • Such a cool idea! Might head out to the flea market this sunday! Greetings from Berlin!

  • That’s not a color that I would normally think of using but it looks gorgeous!

  • This looks beautiful and I love the mustard yellow color. Great idea 🙂 Visiting from Centsational Girl.

  • I don’t think its about perfect as long as you love the way it looks! Its a cute idea, and I love the idea of reusing what you have and making it different.


  • I love this idea! I’m doing it today…can’t wait. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂 I was wondering where you got your hanging chair. <3

  • This is the most useful use of a ladder that isn’t being used.

    That made sense.

  • I like it a lot! It’s a great idea, and the color you chose is so warm and homely.

  • I love the multi-faceted benefits of this project: added character to the room, display shelving, and right-under-your-nose storage & added purpose of what could have been just an unsightly-but-needed ladder. Kudos!

  • This is such a great idea!


  • Such a creative way to re-purposed a ladder! I really enjoyed this post. (I particularly love the little bird.) Also, I really like how it can be re-re-purposed later by a new paint job (I’m not sure why you would with such a fantastic color) or new shelves. I like the flexibility as style changes. Great job!

    Wishing you a cheery day!

  • I love love love this idea and have wanted to do something like this in our house for the LONGEST time!! Our new place has the perfect space for something like this. Now I just need to find a ladder to use…

  • Holy cow, I am so about to do this project! My ladder is in storage waiting for me!!!!

  • Love thie project! What a great (and chic) use for an old ladder!

    Kate xo

  • I love it! Such a perfect color…

    I wanted to say I was finally able to make use of your fonts you created awhile back- I love them! Thank you for sharing them with all your readers!

  • I know this is going to make me sound like a crazy person – but after looking at all of these photos I could only think about my anxiety over you standing so close to yellow paint in white Minnetonkas. Haha. 🙂

  • Amazing idea!

    Please, check out my blog! Giveaway necklace!!!

  • So cute Elsie!! This would be adorable on my our patio!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!! Muah!

  • I really want to tell my boyfriend that he needs to get a new ladder so I can have the older one that looks like this. I’ve been wanting to do ladder shelving for such a long time! I love the add ons too!

  • I love this! Seeing all your neat old wooden ladders makes me long for the one we got rid of when we bought a sturdy (and more safe) one to replace it, because I was afraid it would tip over. I’m not really afraid of heights but I’m afraid of climbing ladders for some reason! This is a perfect use for one. So charming!

  • That is a good idea for the ladder! It is still functional, but also put to good use as an art display, nice!

  • This probably one of my favourite DIYs ever! Ladder-love.

    xx Kaisa

  • This is awesome. All this home decor inspiration is great. Sometime in the next two years..I’m going to have my own place and finally be able to implement many of these cool ideas! 🙂

    I especially love when you guys restyle something that is super common and super easy to find. Love love!

  • Super cute idea! This would be great for outdoor plants too!
    xx Allison

  • This looks so nice! Love the colour!
    Katie x

  • Such a great idea! Now I need to find a ladder…
    Jillian httpe://

  • Such a pretty, pretty idea! I absolutely love this one!
    xo Heather

  • This looks great! I understand why you love ladders so much, this looks awesome!

  • adorable! and love the color of the pain chosen too! xx. gigi. food and beauty blogger @

  • first of all, ‘golden avocado’ is the best paint name ever.
    second of all, this idea is wonderful. i like the different heights of things displayed, especially the abundance of plants.


  • I am totally in love with this color choice. I doubt I would have picked it off a paint chip, but I can’t argue with the results. 🙂

  • I absolutely love this! I adore ladder displays but they’re just so narrow and theres not much you can put. This is genius and the color is amazing!


  • Adding a bit of color will really brighten a room, plus, the small imperfections add to the character. 🙂

  • That is super cute. I have an old ladder in my garage that would be perfect for this – I never thought of making it part of my decor!

  • What a wonderful idea and touch to add to a room!
    Lovely post!

  • This color is so darling! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • I love this idea of using a ladder as shelving! so adorable, and adds so much character to a room <3

  • If you guys ever have a garage sale, I’ll be the first person there!

    Lauren at

  • Great idea! I seriously need to create space in my house 😉 xx


  • Very cool! Love the color you used and it is so gorgeous.

    Wonderful idea, as always!!

    All the best,


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