Wednesday, May 09, 2012

More tales from the Tool Shed. A vintage ladder remixed as a wine rack and cookbook shelf.

It has been brought to my attention that my last post was rather sadder than I meant it to be.  It was meant to be at least half-assed funny? 

Nobody likes a cyber whiner.

On to a happier topic:  decorating projects.  Specifically MY decorating projects which, I'm happy to report, there have many, MANY during my quiet time here online.   

Old timers may recall this post in which I converted some tractor parts to candle holders last fall.  The Tool Shed yielded another treasure while I was there and one that I have a particular obsession with:  a ladder.  More specifically, a vintage ladder that had at one point (probably in 1950) experienced an unfortunate run-in with a large piece of farm equipment that severed its back legs rendering it only able to lean rather than stand on its own.  Much like the tractor parts, my enthusiasm for this broken relic caused the Keepers of the Tool Shed much bewilderment and WTFing as I loaded into the car.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it either at that point, but I have trouble walking away from a random vintage ladder at a flea market, much less one with which I have a familial connection. Broken is quite beside the point.

As you can see, the business side is completely intact and it's covered in the lovely patina only the passage of time can bestow.  It lived here on my back deck under the eaves for a few months until I began my kitchen redesign (blog post to follow on that project as well).  I did lots of Googling on re purposed ladders and there are many great ideas out there, but none of them, I decided, were going to quite work for me. I considered suspending it from the ceiling "long ways" to use as a pot rack and then balancing it atop the cabinets across my galley kitchen (which I was convinced was a stroke of freaking genius and kind of still am) until it proved just that much too short to bridge the span.  I was persuaded knocking off some of the useless back back parts and nailing them to either the top or bottom to make up the difference in the span was not a good plan either.        

When the installation of a built-in microwave freed up some real estate at the end of the kitchen counter, a kind of in-between spot, it occurred to me that the ladder would likely be a perfect fit in the space and so I retrieved it from the deck and leaned it there.  It absolutely sang to me.

I began to have ideas.

Work continued on the kitchen:  painting, painting painting. One thing I always seem to be struggling with is where to put wine (not that it lasts all that long around here once purchased) and I have lots of cookbooks that never see the light of day.  In addition, I needed to free up more cabinet space (don't we all?).

From there, all it took was a lot of cursing, a little sawing and screwing, and one spectacularly shattered bottle of Chardonnay until I had myself a practical treasure:

I wish the photo were less back lit but--new rule!--we're going with content over nitpicking perfectionism for a while.  The ladder is now mounted to the wall at the top with metal L-brackets.  The useless back was broken off and some of the pieces re purposed and screwed to the wall to act as backstops to "catch" the bottoms of the wine bottles:

Perhaps most practically gratifying was engineering a way (at no cost, by the way) to store wine glasses here and free up some really valuable cabinet space.  The metal wine glass holder was slid from the cabinet shelf and rigged onto the ladder by taking advantage of one of the ladder's existing elements--a metal rod that runs beneath each rung:

Wire was added on each side in the back (visible at left and over the glasses) to assist with bearing the weight and and make the rack level: 

The rack can now accommodate on the ladder the same dozen glasses that were formerly held within a cabinet.  The two bottom shelves can hold up to a dozen bottles of wine and believe me when I say it is my dream to need that much wine storage space at some point.

The two top rungs--now shelves--are devoted to cookbooks, obviously, though this still isn't all of them:

Nigella gets a shelf all to herself because she's far too fabulous to be expected to share.

All in all, probably my favorite project ever for both practical and sentimental reasons and the way the two converge so seamlessly.  While we aren't sweating the poorly lit photos, they really don't do the ladder justice and I can honestly say nobody walks in my kitchen for the first time without inquiring about it, where it came from, etc.  As projects go, it's a pretty simple one and I'm always walking away (with difficulty) from vintage ladders for sale at consignment shops and for not that much money either.  The wire, L-brackets, and wire wine glass rack can all be had for less than $15. 

If you're looking for a project and a simple kitchen storage solution, this is a great little project to get your feet wet on.

(And, hello, TWO posts in as many days from me?  I rock. Just ask me.)

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