Pretty and Practical Decor Ladders

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on April 24, 2020

When it comes to good design, decorative ladders are at the tip-top. Decor ladders blend form and function, create a sculptural appeal, and draw the eye upward, offering a creative storage solution for blankets and objets d’art. For me, they’re like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence: Given their clean lines and inherent structure, decorative ladders can work well in a wide range of spaces and styles, adding that extra bit of oomph and excitement. Because no decor ladder is complete without artfully placed throws or towels, they add a dimension of softness and texture, too.

Whether your design style is bohemian, mid-century modern, farmhouse, minimalist, or something else entirely, a decorative ladder adds dimension and style to a variety of spaces in your home. If you have a large blank wall, the ladder itself can be the design hero, styled with effortlessly tossed throws and paired with a basket or footstool to finish the look. But they also play well with other pieces!

We often pair in conjunction with a larger horizontal furniture piece like a console or dresser with artwork above it, or even nestled behind a lounge chair vignette, as a finishing touch. Rooms with smaller square footage, such as a home office, mudroom or bathroom, can benefit from a ladder’s vertical footprint while offering much-needed storage—in these cases, consider choosing a ladder with wider slats that can help you accommodate larger items rather than only draped textiles. 

It’s all about layering—and embracing the “not so perfect.” Go ahead and mix up patterns and textures with your throw blankets for a more visually interesting look. Then, think about creating some space and diversity in where they rest on the rungs—casually toss one on the top left rung, then the next down one rung and on the right side, and maybe skip a rung before draping a third blanket in the center. The lighter the textile the better for decor ladders. Bulky blankets or towels won’t lay quite as nicely for that effortlessly styled look ladders are known for. Ladders with wider, more shelf-like slats can display a mix of textiles plus items like books, decorative objects, and plants.

Also, think about what you pair them with. A ladder all by its lonesome can feel lonely and isolated in a space. It needs a decor buddy or two to finish out the look and create a vignette or design moment. At Havenly, we often pair ladders with a larger, lower piece of furniture for a sense of height, like nestled with a chair and side table, or at the end of a buffet or console. Or, sometimes the ladder is the design star paired with a floor vase, stool, or basket, and a small piece of art to the side.

With clean contemporary lines and warm teak wood tones, the Kambas decorative ladder from Citizenry is a sophisticated choice for layering textured throws or towels. My favorite feature: at 70 inches high, it’s a great option for adding visual height to a space.

I also often recommend the iron ladder from McGee & Co to clients, as it brings in a touch of refined industrial flair to a room. The rungs feature a soft etched pattern for added detail and character.

For a more boho twist, embrace this more organic teak ladder from Crate & Barrel. With naturally distressed teak wood and tossed with linens, you’ll create that perfectly relaxed vibe.

Ready to climb to the top of the design ladder? Get started with our interior design style quiz.

Words by Heather Goerzen