Essence of DIY: Ladder Blanket Stand



I am obsessed with ladder blanket stands. Obsessed probably isn’t even a strong enough word. I love to bring farmhouse-style details into our New England home, without overdoing it. (Sorry, the barnhouse doors aren’t going to work in this joint!) 

That being said, since re-designing our family room a few years ago, something has been missing from the corner on the other side of the couch. I’ve tried to find a small table to put there — something, anything — to add some height. The corner is super tiny though, and short of building something, or having something made, I couldn’t find anything I liked. 

I also have a blanket problem. I LOVE blankets. I think I have 20. OK, maybe more than that. I’ve collected all different kinds –fleece, cable knit, sweater, cashmere — I have all the blankets. Then den houses three. Two cable knit, and a giant sweatshirt blanket.

I loved the idea of a blanket stand made from a ladder, but everything I saw and liked was ridiculously expensive and would also need to be assembled once it arrives. In my quest to DIY, I found a piece of a ladder at the Brimfield Antiques Fair, and I transformed it. (See my tips for choosing a ladder at the bottom of this piece!)


I’d be lying if I said this ladder was in good shape. It was a mess. But I liked its character and I thought it had potential. I also talked the seller down to $15 for it, which is exactly how much I wanted to pay. 

So I sanded it. A lot.




I used 80 grit, and 60 grit on the first pass. Then, fine tuned the ladder with 220 grit. It took me longer to sand the ladder than anything else, but I wanted all the red paint on it … off. It took about 2 hours to sand the ladder to look like this:


At this point, I reconsidered painting it, and thought about staining it instead, but I had bought chalk paint and was committed to painting and distressing it. (I’ll stain my next ladder.)

The ladder had lots of cracks that I considered filling in with wood filler, and re-sanding, which you can do, but again, I thought it added character, and since it’s only going to be supporting a few blankets, didn’t think it was crucial. I made sure to sand them as smoothly as possible with the 220 grit sandpaper, to avoid any snags!


I went with Folk Art’s “Java” Chalk Paint.


I used a 2 1/2″ brush to apply the paint on all sides and the rungs, but I wasn’t concerned about coating it to completely cover the wood, since I was planning to distress it anyway.



One of the greatest things about chalk paint is how quickly it dries. It only took about 15 minutes on each side. I liked how it looked, so I opted for just one coat.

(also worth noting: You usually don’t have to sand with chalk paint, but because my ladder was in rough shape, I decided to get all the old paint off first and polish it a little bit.)


Once the paint was dry, I took the 220 grit sandpaper and wore away some of the paint. You can see how I also didn’t fully coat the ladder, and let some of the old show through.


I love a good chalky finish, but for this piece, I wanted it a little more glossy, and also protected, so i sealed it with clear antique wax. 


I applied a heavy coat (see above) using the 2 1/2″ brush again.

P1010521Once it starts to dry, you can see what a difference it makes! The two rungs in the back are antiqued, and the one in the front is still matte chalk paint.

I let the wax dry overnight before moving my ladder from the workspace in my garage to its home in the family room. This whole project took about 4 hours to complete.

And… voile! Ladder blanket stand!


It’s pretty easy to take an old piece and make something beautiful with it! 

Tips for choosing a ladder:

  • Find something sturdy, this piece was part of a tripod ladder.
  • Look for a ladder that doesn’t look like it’s been chipped away at by *bugs* — wood can carry lots of nasty things like beetles and termites
  • Try to find a piece without cracks that are going to give you splinters (and be sure to wear gloves when you’re sanding)
  • Make sure the rungs fit well into the ladder legs. The last thing you need is a heavy blanket falling down and knocking over your ladder!

(Note: This post contains affiliate links, which just means that if you use them to buy something, I get a little bit of money back to keep this site running!)

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