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Hanging Lantern Ladder DIY (and Where to Get a Ladder!)

Beth from Unskinny Boppy had been on the lookout for a vintage ladder after spying one in a layout from Pottery Barn. Imagine her excitement when she happened upon just the ladder while shopping at a local antiques store. These can be difficult to find!

Beth mimicked the look of her inspiration by hanging the ladder above her patio table with mason jar lanterns. This design works really well with Beth’s covered dining area and completes the space to perfection.

Perfection doesn’t begin to describe it…

hanging lantern ladder

Every single component of this project is spectacular in its own right. From the bronze chains suspending the ladder, the glimmering mason jars that simply spell summer, to the Moravian star as her center piece, this ensemble is breathtaking.

This project seems easy enough, but is it? It’s not too bad, fortunately. And honestly, we think the most difficult aspect is finding a vintage ladder in the first place. Once you have this main piece, the rest of it comes together almost effortlessly.

How to Find a Rustic Ladder?

For Beth, she combined patience with luck. She knew what she wanted to find. Our brains work in magical ways, where our sub-conscious stays on the look-out even if something isn’t at the forefront of our minds.

In Beth’s case, her big moment came when she visited an antiques event with multiple vendors. It was there that she stumbled upon her great vintage ladder.

But what if you don’t want to wait for a ladder to come to you? It’s not always easy to visit antique shops, unless you do it all the time as part of a business or an everyday hobby.

Old wooden ladders like Beth’s are pretty popular. They’re being used these days for both home decor AND functionality. They not only look interesting, but they can do jobs such as holding towels and bathroom accessories, blankets, baskets, and more.

You want one? Here’s how…

Make Your Own

There are many tutorials online for how to make a vintage ladder. Admittedly, most of them involve using fresh lumber from a big box store. The coloring, cracking and character just isn’t there with that approach however.

That said, it’s an easy enough project to complete. A few cuts, some screws and you have your ladder. Add some paint, distress and you can artificially age it.

If you go this route, you’ll come close. If you can find some reclaimed wood pieces that have been outdoors you’ll be even closer. (What is it with old ladders having that left outside for many years look anyway? Didn’t people know how to care for their stuff and keep their ladders inside the barn?). Let’s digress.

If waiting to find one while combing the flea markets and antique circuits and making one doesn’t quite cut it, what do you do?

Buy a Knock Off

Vintage Wooden Ladder with Reclaimed Wood

Bardwood Rustic Ladder You Can Buy

In this case, a knock off vintage ladder is one that’s been manufactured to look like an old one.

It’s similar to the make-your-own option, except a company has done the work of procuring actual aged wood and putting together the ladder for you – no shiny new screw heads revealing themselves at close glance!

Again, since rustic, farmhouse ladders are pretty in demand, prices for these are more than a few bucks.

One such decor company called Barnwood USA seems to be the most competitive when you compare prices against listings on eBay or Etsy. You can find Barnwood’s ladder offered here.

The only real complaint about their product is the quality of the wood, such as discoloration or splinters in the wood. While this might not be perfect for blanket material because it gets caught, it will give your hanging lantern project even more charm.

Additionally, Barnwood’s ladder comes in several different wood color tones and even some painted options. The price isn’t terrible, and when you consider the cost of buying a Pottery Barn product like the one that inspired Beth, it’s still a terrific and affordable knock off.

Mason Jar Lanterns on Ladder

For Beth’s project, she added a nice touch with a Moravian star from Pier 1. While this looks great, this little accessory alone can cost you more than purchasing the ladder! While this ornament is an eye catcher, there is a much more affordable option.

You probably guessed it…

Just a regular star! A metal star like this can bring the same sense of charm and will fit in just right if you want to emulate Beth’s awesome finishes. It’s around ten bucks versus 8- to 10-times that for what Beth has.

Beth was inspired by this ladder with hanging lanterns from Pottery Barn.

pottery barn ladder with lanterns

Now that you’re armed with your own ladder and a less expensive star ornament, head on over to Unskinny Boppy to read Beth’s full story and of course all her steps, tricks and tips for creating her attractive and quaint lantern ladder.

Remember to PIN IT!

Rustic ladder lantern pin

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tracy farrell

Wednesday 5th of September 2012

I did something similar after I was also inspired by the same pottery barn idea except I could not find the right size ladder, so I improvised with an old palette. I love how it turned out and get lots of compliments.


Wednesday 5th of September 2012

Great idea to use a pallet instead! You definitely have to be resourceful in the world of DIY. :)


Wednesday 18th of July 2012

I too agree. Beth's version is stunning and practicable.


Wednesday 18th of July 2012

I agree, much prefer her version!

Shannon Fox

Wednesday 18th of July 2012

I adore her version and placement. It's utterly charming!!

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