Simple Scandinavian Ladder

I never throw away cut-offs and wood scraps! They have a special place in my small backyard, where they often prove to be little treasure troves of pain, especially when feet find them. But they are treasures nonetheless; throw-away scraps are perfect for odd jobs, and their size and shape largely dictate what you can do with them; which is how this ladder came into the world.

This ladder is not the most original DIY, but it is practical and pretty. Initially, I left it unpainted, but when I saw this West Elm version, I was convinced white paint had to be part of my ladder.



Difficulty: easy

Time: 1 hour without drying between paint coats



  • 2 x 35mmx35mmx3.0m timber battens
  • 16 wood screws
  • Cold wood glue like Alcolin, or a strong wood bonding glue
  • white water-based paint
  • Painter’s tape or masking tape


  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • A piece of sandpaper (or electric sander)
  • Screwdriver
  • Paintbrush
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil


rustic decorative adder

Measure and cut battens to 2x 1.5m pieces for the legs and 4x 0.5m pieces for the rungs.

Pro tipUse a carpenter’s square to ensure the pieces are cut perfectly square. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a wonky ladder.


make a ladder

Sand down the pieces to the desired smoothness. I only sanded the edges, because I wanted a rougher texture.


vintage ladder

Mark the positions of the rungs on the sides of the legs: I spaced mine 300mm apart. Remember that the rung will sit in the middle of the measurement. Drill two pilot holes for each rung, one a little higher than the other. This will prevent the wood from splitting and will ensure a stronger hold.


wood ladder

Put a drop of cold glue on the edges of a rung, wait a few seconds, and press it against the inside of the leg where you drilled the pilot holes. Move the wood against each other until you feel the hold securing. Use your carpenter’s square to ensure a 90-degree angle.


diy storage ladder

Fix the two screws in place for each rung and then allow the cold glue to dry.

Repeat steps 5 and 6 for each rung until your ladder is complete.


timber ladder

(If you want a smoother finish, now would be the time to sand!) Use painters tape to demarcate the areas the be painted. I measured 20cm from the outside leg.


make your own storage ladder

Paint the sectioned area of the ladder. Allow to dry between coats until you’re happy with the finish. Lightly sand in between coats if you want a smooth modern appearance.

Pro tip: Brush away from the painter’s tape, to avoid the paint bleeding. And don’t use too much paint.😉


Remove masking tape. I love this part – it’s stressful and exciting!

Optional: Apply a clear sealant or treat the exposed wood. Wait to dry…and you’re done!

DIY storage ladder 2

Congratulations! You are now the owner of a self-made Nordic-style ladder ready to hang your towels or blankets! Well done!

Happy DIYing!



Upcycled ladder ideas for every room in your home

Ladders work really hard around the house and garden and usually end up looking beaten and bruised at the end of their life cycle.  This is exactly when you grab that old thing and give it a second chance by incorporating it as a playful but useful element in the home.

We have sourced very inspiring ideas for every room in your house – from the entrance hall to the patio and all areas in between!

First impressions

Make a bold statement by installing a ladder horizontally against a focal wall and giving it a lick of paint. The spars then can be used to hang up coats, and storage boxes up top come in handy as donation boxes or to store scarves and hats.

Using ladders vertically like in the picture on the right emphasize vertical lines and really help in areas with low ceilings to create the illusion of height. Just look at the lovely textures on them from years of hard work – that kind of look can’t be faked!

entrance_hall whatilikeaboutthelittlecouple

Light it up

Twist a string of fairy lights around the one side of a ladder displayed in your living room. This will create just the right amount of ambient lighting when wanting to tone it down at a dinner party or when having a romantic glass of wine after a long day.

The empty spars are also the perfect place to keep throws for snuggling up on the couch during the cooler evenings.

living_room hviit

Help in the kitchen

Shorter V-shaped ladders work great as occasional storage for crockery and glassware at informal dinner parties. Simply slide planks in between the spars to create surface space.

Display your inherited (or thrift shop found!) tea towels and dish cloths on a straight ladder by leaning it against the wall. Fold the linen up neatly to display the patterns.

Suspend a straight ladder horizontally from the ceiling above your kitchen island to hang pots and pans from. This really is a great cupboard space-saver and adds a country feel to a kitchen.


fleaingfrance frenchlarkspur

Bedroom bliss

Ladders make the perfect bedroom furniture when used as a modern alternative to the bedside table. The spars become magazine racks and if hooks are added you can even hang clothing on them. Add a clip-on bedside lamp to the ladder and you have a sleek loft style look.

If you slide planks through the spars of a tall V-shaped ladder (like we did with the short one in the kitchen) you create great shoe storage. With most of us having way to much shoes it’s great to put your collection on display!

Alternatively you can add a rail to the top so it becomes a clothing rail station. This works great in spare bedrooms when guests are staying over and cupboard space is limited.


Let’s play snakes and ladders

Installing a straight ladder horizontally against a wall creates great bookshelf space in a kid’s room. Use the top of the ladder to display toys or inherited items that you want to keep out of harm’s way for a few years.

Keep the ladder raw for a rugged feel like in the picture on the left or paint it in a fun, high gloss colour to contrast with the wall colours. This really makes a statement, because kids rooms are meant to be fun!



Wash day

Ladders come in very handy when your folded washing need to sit in the laundry a bit before finding their way to the closet. It also gives you space to hang left over hangers – how very convenient!


Work it

This is the more grown-up version of the bookshelf we featured above in the kid’s room. Add clip-on study lamps to add extra effect to the quirky shelf. Alternatively you can add some industrial elements, like hanging the ladder from pipes like in the bottom right picture. Want to make your own pipe shelf? Look at the DIY Germarie did in her husband’s office.



Pretty patio

Add a ladder to your patio to display your beloved collection of plants. I love the wire baskets filled with succulents on the left. But that’s just because succulents are the only plants that I seem to be able to keep alive!


I got so inspired after writing this post that you will soon see a DIY ladder project on the blog. Hope you feel the same way!

Happy styling,