Make a versatile ‘blanket ladder’ from materials at the hardware store

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A blanket ladder can be styled in many ways — not just with blankets. (Amy King/The Washington Post)

Shoes are one option. (Amy King/The Washington Post)

If your home is tight on space, you’ve probably gone to great lengths to make every room seem larger than it actually is. But have you ever considered going to great heights?

A tall ladder used to display things — sometimes called a blanket ladder — makes use of empty space above eye level and draws attention up from the cramped floor. It’s considerably less bulky than a bookshelf and can be moved on a whim.

“A ladder is great because it’s versatile, cross-functional and a statement piece,” says Emily Motayed, a Potomac native and co-founder of Havenly, an online design service that offers affordable home remodeling. “It’s a way to add a layer of depth in a very cost-effective way.”

Especially when you make it yourself. This project takes less than an hour (and that includes time to let paint dry!), and all the supplies can be purchased for less than $50 during a single trip to your local hardware store.

And before you go out and buy a saw to cut the wooden dowels, which typically come in lengths of 48 inches: Big-box stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement have cutting stations where you can borrow their tools at no cost.

Follow these steps to make a five-foot-tall storage ladder on your own. You can take a cue from our three styling options — but when it comes to what you can hang on this, use your imagination: Think jewelry, scarves, artwork.


•Medium-grit sandpaper

•Interior paint in your color of choice (optional)

•Paintbrush (optional)

•Wood glue

•Four ¾-inch copper tube caps

•Six ¾-inch copper tee fittings

7/8-inch-thick wooden dowels cut to the following lengths: two at 24 inches, three at 16 inches and six at 12 inches


Step 1: Sand down the last inch or so of both ends of all your dowel pieces, enough so they will fit snugly into the copper fittings.

Step 2: If you’d like to add a pop of color, paint four inches on both ends of your 12-inch dowels in a color of your choice. I eyeballed this, but you could use painter’s tape and a ruler for more precise results. Allow it to dry. Mine was dry enough in 15 minutes.

Step 3: Apply a thin layer of wood glue to one end of your 12-inch dowels.

Step 4: Slip on a tee fitting using one of the holes along the top part of the “T.”

Step 5: Apply glue to another 12-inch dowel, and slide it into the opposing end of the tee. We are building the vertical rails, so the following two steps are all about gaining height.

Step 6: Repeat this process until you have three 12-inch dowels connected to three tees. Add one 24-inch dowel to the bottom tee hole, again using wood glue.

Step 7: Apply wood glue to the exposed ends of the top and bottom dowels, and slip on a copper cap.

Step 8: Repeat Steps 3 through 7 so you have a second, identical vertical rail.

Step 9: Now, for the rungs: Apply glue to the end of a 16-inch dowel. Slide it into the remaining hole of your tee on the left rail. Repeat this two more times, and then use wood glue to secure the three rungs in the other side of your rail.

(Amy King/The Washington Post)

(Amy King/The Washington Post)