One of the easiest storage solutions is to create your own DIY ladder display shelves using an old ladder for the frame. Not only will you save time, but the money saved makes this project a winner in my book!

DIY Ladder Display Shelves

DIY Ladder Display Shelves

If you’ve been around for a while, you know these ladder display shelves start at $99 and go up depending on size. But, today’s tutorial shouldn’t cost you much and the result will be more personalized to your style (depending on how you finish it.)

pottery barn ladder display shelves
I know you’ve seen them, those adorable ladder display shelves, I really wanted one.  But, the price tags were enough to send me running from the store with my purse gripped tightly in my hands. I mean, really? The one above from Pottery Barn costs $229! I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like spending more than $50 on something I can build myself.

Fast forward a few weeks, and when I saw this ladder at the Habitat ReStore for $15, I knew it had the potential to fulfill my ladder display shelf dreams.

old rickety ladder
The skeptical cashier tried to persuade me not to buy the ladder, warning me not to climb on it because it was too rickety. But, who cares about rickety, I was in love with the paint splashes all over it!

old ladder resting against white porch wall

So, I hauled the old ladder home (and received funny looks along the way because it was hanging several feet out the back of my car.) Little did they know that I was about to transform that old ladder.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Instructions for Building DIY Ladder Display Shelves:

For this project, you can leave the back of the ladder intact, or pry off the top rivets to separate the front from the back. This gave me the ability to make two things from one ladder. (Be sure to read to the end to find out what I made with the backside!)

Start by measuring the width of each step (and subtract 1/8″ to account for the slant of the ladder.)

measure width of ladder steps

Use 1″ x 12″ pine boards or any size you choose. (I had some leftover shelving material I bought from a yard sale, so it was already pre-finished.)

Cut the boards to the appropriate width on a miter saw or ask the lumber store to cut them for you. Yes, it was a total coincidence that my boards were covered in paint splotches too!

stack of 1x12 boards

Dry fit the boards to make sure they fit your ladder. My heart was thumping now because I could really see the project taking shape!

dry fit shelves on ladder

Next cut some 1″ x 2″ strips the same width as each shelf. These are for the backs of your shelves. If necessary stain your shelves or paint them to match your ladder. Or paint the entire ladder and shelves with chalk paint or a paint plus primer.

dry fit 1x2's to front of shelf boards

Attach the 1×2 strips to the back of the shelves, using wood glue.

adding wood glue to front of shelf

Hold until the glue has gripped the trim piece.

attach shelf front

Or nail the 1″x2″ pieces to the shelves.

attach front of shelf using brad nailer

Choose how far back you want your shelves to rest on the ladder steps. Using a combination square or ruler, mark a line on all the shelves. (I chose a 3″ setback.)

using carpenter square to measure depth of shelves

Pre-drill the location for the screws on each ladder step. Turn your ladder upside down and set the screws inside the holes. Line up your pencil lines on the shelf to your ladder step.

2 screws under ladder step into shelf

Clamp the shelf, or get a buddy to hold the shelf as you drive the screws into the bottom of each. Repeat the process for all the shelves.

3 screws under ladder step into shelf

Then flip the ladder back over and admire! My total cost was $15 because I had the other materials on hand. But, even if you have to buy the screws and lumber, it should cost a lot less than a Pottery Barn shelving unit at $299!

My favorite part about this shelf is the paint splashes.

This DIY Ladder Display Shelf sits on our screen porch. But, this beauty would look good anywhere in your home.

close up ladder shelves decorated with coastal decor

I’m contemplating making one for my new master bathroom.

close up rustic ladder shelves

The minnow trap hanging pendant light is also an easy DIY project.

ladder display shelf resting against wall

So what do you think? Do you like it? I bet you could build one of these ladder display shelves for yourself in an hour or two.

Oh, I almost forgot, if you are wondering what I did with the back of the ladder. You can see how I gave it a quick makeover turning it into a display easel.

ladder easel

Have a great week and I’ll see you soon.

Pin this project to save it or share with a friend!

DIY Ladder Display Shelves

DIY Loft Bed | Pretty Handy Girl


Guys and Gals, I am here today to tell you that you can build a loft bed for your child! However, unlike most of the tutorials you find on my site, building this loft bed is not one of them. Instead, loads of gratitude goes to Ana White and her fabulous plans for building a loft bed. You can follow her plans for the build. I assure you, they are detailed and easy to follow.

DIY Loft Bed | Pretty Handy Girl

The only modification I made to the plans was to move the ladder to the foot of the bed instead of the side. What I will show you is how to color stain the bed blue in two simple steps. I’m absolutely in love with the Minwax Express Color wiping stains. They go on super easily, and clean up is a snap with soap and water. Then you seal it as easily as you stained it. Coolest product EVER!

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)


Read more

Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review | Pretty Handy Girl

Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review | Pretty Handy Girl

A few months ago I got an email asking me if I wanted to test an Xtend + Climb telescoping ladder. I said I’d be happy to try it, but I couldn’t promise I’d blog about it. I try lots of products, but only the ones I love get mentioned on the blog. The litmus test is if I would recommend it to a close friend. If I would, then I share it with you (because y’all are like friends I just haven’t met yet.)

Xtend + Climb Telescoping Ladder Review | Pretty Handy Girl

The 760P Xtend + Climb ladder arrived in a compact box. When it arrived, I doubted that it really contained a 14.5ft ladder. But, sure enough inside was the telescoping ladder. Over the course of three months, I truly gave it a work out. I used it to clean the gutters and… Read more

Robin over at TheTshirtDiaries is a gal after my own heart.

She has thrown down a challenge to anyone willing to close up their pocketbooks this month (well, at least for spending on arts and crafts and DIY projects), and use what you have in your home, workshop, craft room or wherever you create. The challenge is called Stashbusting September and you can read more about it here.

She also has a link party called Upcycled Awesome every Wednesday. I hope you hop over to check out some of the fantastic ideas she and other bloggers have shared.

I am always up for a challenge, so I jumped in with both feet ready to complete some projects and do it without spending a dime!

 Obviously toe-less shoes are not safe in the workshop, unless you want to be,
ummm toe-less!

So, what about you? Up to the challenge? I hope you step up to the plate and try your hand at re-using and making-do with what you have on hand! Altogether now: Hey ho, let’s go!

Here is one of the projects that has been sitting around waiting to be given a new life. An old ladder that I picked up from The Habitat for Humanity ReStore (visit this post for more details).

$15 dollars was a little more than I wanted to pay, but Habitat for Humanity is one of my favorite charities, so I don’t mind spending a little more when the money goes to people who need housing.

I actually made this ladder into two separate items. I’ll show you the results of the other half when I finish that project.

Tools Needed:

  • Safety Goggles (Definitely wear your safety goggles when using a pry bar!)
  • Hammer
  • Sand paper or sanding block
  • Pry Bar
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Piece of L-shaped moulding

I used the chisel end on my pry bar to loosen the rivets. Some of those rivets were hanging in there and weren’t ready to come out yet. But, I showed them who’s boss. That would be me, the woman in a skirt and toe-less sandals!

Then used the claw end of a hammer to to remove it the rest of the way.

After removing the brace and top rivets, the ladder’s front and back were free from each other forever. I wiped the whole ladder down with a damp cloth and then lightly sanded it to remove any splinters.

I played around with the back of the ladder in our dining room…

…but ultimately decided I wanted to use it as an easel.

I have a decent scrap pile with leftover boards and trim pieces. A little scrap of L shaped moulding was exactly what I needed.

I measured how high I wanted the moulding to be and then marked where my screws would go.

 I predrilled the holes.
 Leveled the moulding and screwed it into the ladder.
 Instant easel!
Love it!  Especially those paint splotches.
 It looks great next to our repainted Craig’s List buffet and hutch.
Plus, I can change out the artwork on a whim.

I hope this has inspired you to do some Stashbusting this month. Check out what some other Stashbusting bloggers are doing this month: HERE!