Barn Finds- Repurposing an Antique Ladder

Welcome to our Barn Finds Series!

As many of you know my family bought an old farmhouse last year. One of my favorite things about our property is our 1889 Barn. One of my not so favorite things was the amount of things left that we've been sorting through. I think I had romanticized it before we purchased it, thinking of all the wonderful antiques and treasures that I'd surely find along the way. Well, lets just way that wasn't really the case...AT ALL! With that being said there were some treasures, not as many as one would hope, but if you like old things and history like me you'll appreciate some of the things we were left with.

Each week I'll share a find and how it's being used now or at least planned to be used. As we dive through this series it might morph into barn finds/ thrifted scores and I'll show some of my thrifted treasures and how I'm using them and incorporating them into my Vintage Farmhouse Decor.

BUT FIRST a fun look back as we started emptying out the barn and it's contents.

Ok, so fun is not really the best description! It was a lot of work in fact we're still not done. Thus far we've taken 3 full dump trailer loads to the dump, a solid amount to the Habitat Restore and kept a lot.  We've broken the barn into 4 quadrants and only have gone through 3 of them. Just so everyone isn't horrified at the thought of us throwing away things of value, we didn't! I'm someone who finds use in most things so anything that we didn't want but was in good order went to the thrift store. Everything you see in the dump trailer was broken, missing un-replaceable parts and just simple garbage. The next thing is we didn't get rid of a lot of things. There were a lot of vintage and antique tools, equipment & parts left in the barn. We just organized them (still working on that), put them in crates and put them in the loft to stay. I figure if something has been in there for 100 years and it's not getting destroyed from neglect it's fine to continue being there. I have a lot of things I'd like to re-purpose.  Which brings me to my next point.

One of the first things I noticed in the loft was this very unique and very old ladder.


I immediately thought of re-purposing it into a blanket ladder to hang some of my antique quilts from.

I had two hesitation though.

1) They can be really busy and add a cluttered look to a space.

2) Are they a trend?

Blanket ladders have really taken over the market and I was slightly unsure if I wanted to jump on that design trend. I'm kind of weird about doing stuff everyone else does, for some reason when everyone's doing it I kind of hesitate! But I decided that I really liked it, it has a story, it was hand built by the family that built our home and barn so it grew on me and I decided to jump on this whole Blanket Ladder trend and honestly I am so glad I did.

First hurdle was cleaning it. Could it be cleaned? I obviously didn't want it smelling up my house or staining my prized antique quilts. It was winter when we pulled it down so I didn't feel like hooking the pressure washer up when it was freezing. Then I had an epiphany...a trip to the car wash.

I couldn't even believe the difference! It went from grimy to beautiful! It ended up being a wee bit too tall,  so we ended up cutting an inch off the top and an inch off the bottom. It fit perfect and I had a new place to hang a few quilts.

I found out fast that I didn't really like the busyness of the quilts I had grouped together at first and some of them were 30's pastels and just didn't work with my color scheme. Plus my house isn't huge and I don't really have excess space to have it merely be decorative.

Here are my TOP 3 TIPS for making Blanket Ladders look fabulous.

1) Don't fill it up, really 3-4 quilts is a great number. If you hang more than that it's going to look cluttered. You also want to be able to see the ladder, so if you have too many things on it they'll just cover it up.

2) Try to have your quilts or blankets match and mix with your household color scheme. Like I said, I have a small collection of 1930's/40's quilts. I absolutely love them, vintage 30's feedback fabric is one of my favorites but pastels were big: Green, Lavender & Pink. So adding purple or pink to my living room really doesn't help the color scheme and unity that I'm trying to create. You can read a post I wrote that talks about color schemes HERE. So, keep it simple and not too busy, with quilts that can be tricky.

3) Mix display quilts and ones to use. Like I said earlier I don't have room in my house to have everything be for display. I like to have things that are both. I believe things aren't meant to be just looked at, they should be used and enjoyed. With that said the bottom 2 quilts on my ladder are open to be used by the kids. It gives the ladder function especially in a house where there's not a lot of storage for blankets and such. With that being said, they should be pretty and go with your house decor, put the micro-fleece ones in the closet. Also, if you're not pinched for space like me, using them to display special blankets or linens that don't get used, looks fabulous and is a great way to still enjoy them.

So, while I have a few that work together I'm on the hunt for some new ones. I have a rather large collection on antique unfinished blocks, but the problem with them is that they generally weren't' finished for a reason. The ones that I have put together were very crooked and hard to piece together. They were done by hand and not everything always lined up. But I like finishing other peoples projects, heaven forbid I finish my own! So I guess this leaves me with more things to be on the look out for.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this first Barn Finds post. Check back for more to come.


Erinn Boitano
Erinn Boitano


5 Responses

Cindy Jason
Cindy Jason

January 09, 2024


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