Sunday, January 24, 2010

Climbing to the top

Pottery Barn has sold various home decor ladders for years. They can be used as magazine racks or to hold throw blankets or pretty scarves and a multitude of other things. I really like them, but they are expensive! Depending on the size, I have seen them run anywhere between $100 and $300. Ouch. I can't afford that. So I decided - like I often do - "I can make that." Typically that phrases ends with varying results, but this time, the outcome was even better than I was envisioning.

My picture might not be as nicely staged as the Pottery Barn one above, but it does have an Alven in it, who refused to move while I was taking the photos. I guess he was feeling particularly handsome. Anyway, this project is really simple, and most people will not believe you did it yourself.

The two vertical pieces are just 6 foot long 1.5 inch diameter dowel rods from the craft store. The rungs are a couple of 48" long, half inch diameter dowels, cut into thirds. I made this ladder a few years back, before I owned an electric saw. I cut the dowels with a steak knife - which I am not suggesting you do! A handsaw would work just fine if you don't have an electric one.

I wanted my ladder to look old and weathered, so I distressed it with various objects. Just whack, whittle and hack away at the dowels with a screwdriver, keys, claw hammer, small knife or whatever you think will do the right amount of damage. Do this before you assemble the ladder, it's much easier and you're less likely to have it fall apart in your hands.

Use a 1/2 inch drill bit, to make six small holes, equal distance apart on both your larger dowels. Fill the holes with wood glue to affix the rungs. Once it is completely dry you can paint.

Again, I was going for an old, weathered look, so I painted the entire thing a reddish brown with spray paint. Once that was dry, I used black spray paint and did a lighter, sloppier coat, leaving the sides of the ladder and tops of the rungs with some of the brown showing. I figured if this ladder had ever been really used, that's where the paint would have faded and worn away most.

As I am sure you've figured out by now, this ladder is decorative only and while it stands up to our cats trying to climb it and occasionally knocking it over, it should never actually be used by people, including kids.

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