Monday, March 30, 2015

Repurposing Wooden Ladders

     As the weather begins to warm and spring makes its appearance, many of us head outside to clean out garden sheds and garages.  One item you should never throw out is an old wooden ladder.  Ladders can be repurposed into a number of useful and eye catching projects.  Some require refinishing the ladder or cutting it down, but many utilize the ladder just as it is after a good cleaning.  Here are some ideas you might try, keeping in mind that ladder size and shape will dictate its uses:
  • Lean a ladder against a bedroom or closet wall and hang jewelry or scarves on the rungs.  You should sand and varnish the ladder so scarf fabric doesn't snag on the wood.  You could also use this ladder against a living room or bedroom wall as a quilt holder.
  • Hang a ladder horizontally over a kitchen island and use S hooks to make it into a pot rack.
  • Stand it against a garage or in the garden, and the ladder can be used as a trellis.  Attach three of them, two on each side and one across the top, to make a garden arbor.  You could incorporate the arbor into a vintage wedding or use it inside over the head of a bed to hold flowing fabric or bunting for a focal point in the bedroom.

  • Using eye hooks to secure the frames, attach family photos to the rungs.  The display could be placed in almost any room against a wall.  You could also hang the ladder flat against a wall at eye level and attach the frames to the sides of the ladder for a horizontal display.
  • Use a ladder in a closet to store your high heeled shoes on the rungs.
  • Place a ladder in a bathroom to hold guest towels.  You could also attach baskets to the rungs to hold rolled towels, toilet paper, or blow dryers.  A small step ladder next to the tub can hold a pretty tray with candles or bath salts.

  • Modify the ladder so the rungs can be detached and use it as a ribbon rack in your craft room.
  • Screw small boxes to the rungs and make the ladder into a planter that can be leaned against a porch wall.  If you use a two-sided ladder, the planter becomes mobile.  You can place it anywhere in the yard or garden.  Paint the ladder for a cheerful zing of color.

  • If you have a business, ladders can be useful as displays.  Hang magazines on the rungs in a waiting room.  A pair of two-sided ladders the same size can hold long boards attached to the rungs, forming shelves.  Ladders can also be hung from ceilings or attached to the top of corner wall partitions to hold displays.  Baskets, bunting, seasonal florals, and crates all look great on ladders.

  • Lay a one sided ladder flat on the ground in the garden to form natural partitions for herb plants.
  • Hang a ladder flat against a wall and use as a book or display shelf.  If hung on a fence, a ladder makes a fun receptacle for potted plants.
  • Attach S hooks to a ladder in the potting shed, and it makes a great way to store hand tools.  Hang it from the ceiling, and you can dry herbs and flowers tied to its rungs.
Old ladders are endlessly useful and inexpensive to acquire if you don’t happen to have any available to repurpose.  With a little imagination, you may find multiple ways to give new life to a worn out piece that might have otherwise been thrown away.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Caring for Old Books

     Antique and vintage books are fun to collect.  In order to retain the value of your volumes once you get them home, it is important to store your books correctly.  Stress and weight on books affects the bindings, particularly at the spine.  Here are some tips for storing your books effectively:
  • Books should be kept in cool, dry rooms away from direct sunlight.  Avoid basements or attics where water and humidity can mold pages and dry areas that can cause brittleness and disintegration of glue.  65-70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for book storage.                                                                                
  • Place books on smooth, sturdy shelving to keep covers and jackets from tearing or chipping, and avoid painted shelves as covers can adhere to the paint.
  • Store books by size.  Large books can become stressed or indented when stored next to a smaller book.
  • Always place books upright, even in boxes.  Storing volumes flat loosens bindings and stresses spines.
  • Do not allow books to lean on the shelf.  Books must be kept upright to avoid weakened bindings or distorted shapes.  Use bookends to support partially full shelves of books.
  • Do not store books too tightly on the shelf.  Books pushed together suffer damaged spines and rubbing.  You should be able to easily slip a piece of paper between stored books.
  • Clean books with a feather duster.  Do not use chemicals or household cleaners around books.
Proper care of your treasured collection will ensure lasting value and enjoyment for years to come.