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Give an old ladder new purpose this fall

We all have those throw blankets ready to grab when the weather turns chilly. Why not place them all in one simple, easy-to-grab spot that creates a visual pop as well? I decided to turn an antique ladder into just such a space. This easy do-it-yourself project gives the room so much character and beauty. Plus, it helps you stay organized.


  • antique or aged ladder
  • sandpaper
  • paint/stain
  • 2 cans of polyurethane spray
  • 4 anti-slip guards
  • blankets 


Looking for an old ladder may seem daunting, but you can easily pick one up at an estate or garage sale, at a thrift store, from your garage or even from your neighbor’s garage (with permission, of course). When I chose the ladder for my project, I picked one with plenty of grunge and character. Old paint and a few dings in the ladder’s legs make it the perfect candidate.

I started by pressure-washing my ladder. You need a clean surface but make sure not to take too much character off in the cleaning process. After washing, I let the ladder dry for several days in the sun. We want all the moisture dried out so the paint, stain or polyurethane spray will adhere. If you pressure-wash your ladder, you’ll notice that the water tends to raise the grain of the wood a bit. Don’t worry, just give the ladder a good sanding — nothing too vigorous — just enough to smooth any rough spots and prevent splinters. We don’t want to snag or damage our blankets.

Brush or wipe off any dust on the ladder from sanding and set it in a space that you can use to paint or stain and seal. If you use paint, you will need two coats of a satin or gloss paint. If you use stain, you will stain, wipe off the excess and then seal with polyurethane. I left my ladder unstained and simply sealed it with several coats of polyurethane, using one can for each side. I let the poly dry between each coat. Once it was dry, I flipped my ladder and repeated this process on the other side. This might sound like we are using a lot of product, but these ladders are old and the wood tends to be dry and splintery. The additional coats will help it look nice, protect your blankets and give the old, dried wood new life.

Once you have finished the painting or staining and sealing, attach the anti-slip guards on the bottom of each leg of the ladder as well as the area that will rest up against your wall. Besides protecting those areas from wear and tear, they will prevent the ladder from sliding on smooth surface floors.

Now, simply enjoy! Place the ladder in an empty corner of any room and adorn with blankets folded so that they can be set over the rung of your ladder. This blanket rack is oozing with character, not only from the ladder itself but the blankets you choose to display. It's versatile, cost-efficient, and takes up hardly any space. Add in the fact it helps you organize your stash of blankets and that’s a win-win in my book! 


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