Ladder shelves are an awesome way to add vertical storage to your home. You can store anything in them, like books, planters, lamps, DIY equipment, etc.
The greatest part about these shelves is how good they look and how multipurpose they are. You can add them to your living room as a decorative item, or your yard as a plant holder, or even your garage as a gardening equipment storage unit.
If you want to add a simple storage structure to your home, choose one of these 13 DIY ladder shelf plans and get to work.
21 DIY Ladder Shelf Plans and Ideas
#1. Modern Ladder Shelf
This ladder shelf is ideal for placing in an office or craft room and can be built within just three hours. By using plywood for the shelves, you can speed up the process even more.
The level of difficulty of this plan is intermediate, and a total of $25 has been spent on making it. Despite the low cost, this structure has five broad shelves which can store your books, plants, or vases. Also, even without any stain, the furniture looks good and polished.
Three important things to remember when assembling the shelf are:
- Make spacers for fast assembly
- Level horizontally and vertically
- Make pilot holes with a drill
You can adjust the plan to fit any shelf you liked online. The owner has used her dimensions, but the plan is flexible to change.
#2. Leaning Ladder Wall Bookshelf
These shelves are all made from 1x boards, therefore reducing the need to cut plywood. By placing the shelves first and using a level and clamp, you can achieve perfection in this plan. Simply repeat this process for as many shelves as you want in the entire structure.
Each of the shelves has a different dimension, meant for storing differently sized things. But, the most striking feature about this bookshelf is that it was built around a small desk. Thus, if you think you don’t have enough space, you can build these shelves around an existing structure.
You should cut the backs and shelves at the same length. A great way to do it is by adding a stop block on your saw. Lastly, after fixing up the whole structure, remember to fill all holes with wood filler and also to test the wood filler before using it.
If the idea of having a desk along with your bookshelf fascinates you, this plan even has references to building the same desk.
#3. Wall-Mounted Horizontal Ladder Shelf
Out of all shelves, this DIY ladder shelf is the most stand-out piece of construction. Three primary features making it so unique are:
- It is built from a scrap ladder
- The horizontal setup
- It’s size
The ladder used by the author of the plan was 6.6m in size and covered more than half of both walls. However, you can use your dimensions for the ladder, depending on what will fit your walls and room. An essential tip would be to split the ladder in half to make transportation less cumbersome.
Besides spending money on the ladder, brackets, dynabolts, and basic power tools (if you don’t already have them), you won’t have any other expenses. The owner spent $180 on making this, out of which $130 was spent on the ladder. You could even substitute it for a cheaper ladder and reduce your cost even further.
Ultimately, the shelf you get is sturdy and can hold a list of things ranging from spirit bottles to books and board games. Finish up the project by adding some lights or paint to your shelf to improve the aesthetic. You can even let it be the way it is for a more rustic look.
#4. Kitchen Ladder Shelving
When it comes to a kitchen, most people prefer to have open shelves to access the food and dishes without the hassle of opening and closing drawers and cupboards. Still, buying kitchen shelves can cost a fortune. The owner of this plan felt the exact same way when coming up with this plan.
This open shelf system requires a foldable ladder, some lumber, and your woodworking skills!
While building the shelves, ensure the planks are deep enough to hold your kitchen equipment. Besides that, the only steps this plan involves are cutting the planks and placing them on the ladder.
This is the quickest way to build a ladder shelf, and it looks good too. Make sure to get a ladder that can support the planks and your kitchen items. Another bonus tip is to place heavier items in the center and lighter ones on the edge to prevent the shelf from tipping over.
#5. Storage Area Ladder Shelving
Ladder shelves work well for use in the storage area or garage. This DIY ladder shelf is specially designed for a storage area and can hold a lot of weight. Made from an old and used ladder, this shelf looks like it is made for industrial purposes. Besides the ladder, you will even need some 10mm plywood to create the planks.
To begin building this shelf, you should remove all fittings and ties from the ladder. Even sanding the ladder is recommended, although you don’t have to pay much attention to cleaning it since it will stay in your storage room.
The shelf planks of this structure have been made to look smaller as one goes up the ladder. Thus, the overhang gets smaller as we go up. Additionally, each plank has rounded corners, reducing the risk of getting injured through these shelves.
You can give some finishing touches using varnish and polish, but the owner decided against it since the shelf was just for the storage area.
#6. Drawer Ladder Shelf
For anyone who wants a larger storage area through a ladder shelf, this plan is the best idea. Made from some leftover crib drawers, these shelves cost around $15 to build. You can substitute the crib drawers for any other drawers you have since they will have to be shortened anyway.
Any items which are breakable and cannot sit on open shelves are perfect to be put in these drawer shelves. The utility of this structure might make you wonder if it is difficult to build. Contrastingly, it is simple. The only cutting involved would be for the drawers and the ladder-like frame if you did not buy pre-cuts.
To decide the spacing between each drawer, you can place your structure on the floor and start screwing in the pre-cuts.
An extended version of this plan has even worked on giving the shelves a good finishing. This is evident in the overall white base of the drawer, mint green legs, and jade knobs that give it an aesthetic appeal.
#7. Painter’s Ladder Shelf
This free-standing storage tower has shelves of different sizes and is ideal for smaller places with limited storage but enough elbow room. The shelves are much wider, and the overall orange color gives a vibrant look to it.
Unlike most ladder shelves, this one has shelf trims. They allow you to keep smaller things like glass showpieces or clocks without the risk of breaking them. A few tools required for building this shelf are a circular saw (read about a few of the best circular saws on the market), drill, miter saw drill bit set, and brad nailer.
We can list four other reasons you should build this DIY ladder shelf:
- It is inexpensive
- Works well in smaller spaces
- Looks amazing in bright, solid colors
- It is sturdy and free-standing
If these reasons aren’t enough to convince you, then the six-step pictorial plan should do the job.
#8. A-Frame Ladder Shelf
For anyone fond of modern furniture more than rustic, this A-frame DIY ladder shelf does a great job. Combining aesthetics and utility, this shelf will look graceful in a living room or when placed in a corner.
You can add some books, decor, showpieces, plants, and artwork to the strategically built shelves to beautify the structure further. If the need arises, the shelf can easily be packed up for storage. All that is needed is to remove the shelves and fold the legs like a normal ladder.
Made using wood boards, glue, nails, and hinges, you can complete this shelf in less than a day, drying time included. Consider customizing it further with paint, polish, and stains to highlight your shelf.
The only downside to building it is that some previous woodworking skills are required. The owner of the plan has listed the level of difficulty as hard. Thus, we recommend you to proceed only if you have previous woodworking experience and are an intermediate or expert DIY enthusiast.
#9. Planter DIY Ladder Shelf
Ladder shelves look elegant when placed in your yard or patio, and this plan proves it. Built to keep planters, these shelves help protect the plants from strong winds and from blocking sunlight out for each other.
These shelves have been made using treated wood, but you can even use old pallets (check out these pallet projects for home improvement). Based on a 3-4-5 right-angled triangle, this design has simplified measurements for you.
You should remember to measure your shelves keeping in mind the size of the planters. The planters in this plan are 200mm tall, and each plank is adjusted according to this length.
This structure makes a great ornament. Not to mention, it gives the perfect solution to protect your plants against weathering. Whether you are a DIY beginner or professional, this project takes a few hours and little effort.
#10. DIY Ladder Bookshelf
You don’t have to purchase a bookshelf for it to look professional. This plan teaches you how to build one within 6 hours, spending only $82 on the material. One might conclude that it is important to have woodworking skills to build a professional-looking shelf. But, this plan has been rated as easy and can be built by any level of a DIY aspirant.
While this bookcase may appear delicate, the hardwood frame is sturdy and has a balanced design, preventing the structure from toppling over. You can even customize the dimensions of the planks according to your needs and space availability. Alternatively, you can even follow the cut list given along with the plan.
Something to remember while placing the shelf planks is to keep the trimmed edges facing the wall and upright against the work surface.
Note: Finish this custom-tiered storage unit by adding some paint and non-skid foam pads to the feet of the structure.
#11. Oak DIY Ladder Shelf
Built from pine, this rustic-looking shelf provides vertical storage for your books, plants, or showpieces. It might look complex to build, but it has been rated as easy in terms of difficulty by the original DIYer. You can even construct more than one shelf to create an entire storage wall.
Since pine can be a little costly, you can go in for whatever wood suits you. The best way to color woods like pine is through maple or poplar stain since it spreads evenly. Alternatively, you can substitute the stains with a few coats of polyurethane to sustain the natural appearance of wood.
This project needs three main skills – sawing, gluing, and clamping. You can complete building the structure within an afternoon or evening. Take an additional hour for painting, and you will be done.
#12. Making It In the Mountains’ DIY Ladder Shelf Plan
This mint-green ladder shelf is an eye-catching structure and will surely add value to wherever it is placed. Originally used as a plant stand, this shelf has been inspired by one of Ana White’s designs. The ridges at the side of each plank helps to keeps everything contained and safe from the wind.
1x4s have been used to build the planks of this shelf. Instead of using screws to fix the ends together, the plan creators have used finishing nails to prevent the screws from showing in front.
If you plan on keeping this shelf outside like the owners, you will need to follow an extensive finishing process. Start with priming the whole structure, followed by another heavy-duty priming round after the shelves have dried. Finally, sand the entire ladder shelf and paint it. You can use the turquoise color the plan owner has gone with, or play a little and choose something ever brighter.
#13. Ladder Shelf for Living Room
A three-dimensional PDF model using SketchUp was created by the DIY master of this plan to ensure the shelves would fit in his living area. The tools used are a miter saw, benchtop disc sander, nail gun, orbital sander, and a chop saw. Moreover, the shelves are built using plywood sheets and assembled using 18 gauge brad nails.
These shelves have extra security since shelf screws have been added for enhanced security. The plan even lists out the order in which the staining was done. To name a few stains that were used- vintage cherry dye stain, amber dye stain, and antique cherry wood stain.
One major downside to this plan is the time that was taken to complete it – three months. However, that was because the owner of the plan did not work consistently.
By dedicating substantial time to it, you can manage the cutting and assembly in eight hours. The finishing, i.e., staining and final placement, will take another five hours. The shelves, however, are worth the time and effort.
Ladder shelves are a great way to add non-bulky-looking storage space to your room, yard or patio. Even better, these vertical storage units take less space and yet can hold many items.
Buying ladder shelves can cost as much as $300 and sometimes even more. By listing out 13 DIY ladder shelf plans, we have tried to provide you with a more accessible solution. Spend a weekend on making one of these shelves, and add an impressive-looking structure to your DIY collection.
Bonus Read: Chop saws are efficient tools to cut wood. Check out these chop saw