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Decorating comes with tough decision-making, sometimes choosing between beautiful pieces and functional ones. But some furniture brilliantly marries the two. Wall ladders fall into this category. They look like leaning works of art. According to Lee Mayer, the CEO and co-founder of online interior-design service Havenly, “Storage ladders bring a sense of visual height to a space.” And once you throw on blankets or towels or your latest copy of New York magazine it instantly turns into a storage unit too. They come in teak, metal, and even brass designs, in a variety of different heights, widths, and price points, so there is something for everyone out there. Below, Mayer, and other design-savvy folks recommend their favorite wall ladders from Yamazaki, Article, Crate & Barrel, and more.
When writer Laura Perciasepe wanted to replace her “clothes chair” with a wall ladder, she says it helped to have parameters: “Get my stuff off the ground and don’t take up a lot of space doing it and don’t look hideous and don’t cost too much.” This Yamazaki design checked all the boxes. “It leans on the wall next to my dresser and it holds shirts I wear a lot, the three black dresses I wear again and again to work (the tower is helpful for “uniform dressing”), and, well, bras,” she writes. “Everything gets its own rung. Stuff is off the ground, off the chair, and I can see it all.” It has six rungs and a large space under the last one that you could fit a basket for any overflow clothes. For things that don’t easily hang on a rack you can attach an S-hook to place purses, totes, and even sunglasses on.
Before settling on the above, Perciasepe considered this five-foot ladder from Umbra, which she called “popular and stylish.” Made of solid ash and powder-coated steel, it’s expandable width-wise, from 16 to 24 inches, making it convenient to adjust to whatever space you put it in. While it was ultimately too wide for Perciasepe’s bedroom, it may be a good option for someone who wants to play around with scale. Interior designer Courtney Sempliner is also a fan of this one because of how functional and versatile it is. “It could work well for clothing, towels or even larger blankets and can be adjusted according to your space, with the option of changing the width as you see fit,” she says.
A slight upgrade to Perciasepe’s Yamazaki pick above is this ladder-shelf combo with five rungs and one shelf. “It’s great for storage in a small bathroom,” says Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters, the interior-design duo behind the firm Forbes Masters. “The rods allow you to hang towels on it to dry while the shelf on top is perfect for open storage.” Outside of the bathroom, they like using ladders where there isn’t a lot of storage or to display special objects.
For a surprising take on the standard upright ladder, consider this triangular version that interior stylist (and the owner of vintage-textiles shop the Reserve) Mallory Fletchall recommends. Still minimal in its aesthetic like the metal ladders above, its shape transforms it into a statement piece, according Fletchalll. Made of powder-coated metal, it stands five feet tall.
Fletchall loves the “wabi-sabi and rustic look” of this wooden leaning ladder. “I can imagine it in a room with white-painted or cement floors,” she says. It’s 68 inches high, and is also available in brown and two-toned options.
Here’s a slightly shorter teak-wood ladder that Mayer calls “boho,” as it’s more rough-hewn thanks to the naturally distressed wood. She calls it charming and says that draping some of your favorite linens on it would go a long way toward creating a relaxed vibe in any space. (That’s the beauty of wall ladders, says Mayer: “Given their clean lines and inherent structure, they can work well in a wide range of spaces and styles.”)
Designer Kara Thomas is a fan of wood, too. “I love a good rustic, teak ladder,” she says, as it adds an “earthy, jungle vibe” to the space. She likes using them in the bathroom, as teak can withstand the humidity of your steamy showers. Compared to the one above, this one takes a less organic shape and features more clean lines, and is nearly ten inches taller.
Sempliner prefers metal to wood. “This style has an industrial feel as opposed to an earthy, organic aesthetic,” she says. “This wall ladder would add an edgy, modern feel to any space and is very versatile.” Don’t let the name throw you off. This can hold blankets, newspapers, and magazines in the living room just as well as it holds bathroom towels.
This wood storage ladder came recommended by both Mayer and Fletchall. According to the brand, it’s handcrafted in Indonesia in a fair-trade environment with ethically harvested teak. Fletchall appreciates the “rich hue of the teak” and the “rounded top that provides a refined look.” Mayer calls out its “clean contemporary lines” and the fact that it stands 71 inches high.
When Thomas isn’t opting for a teak ladder, she prefers one with some storage. “I prefer a wall ladder with shelves to display a few decorative items, or if there are no shelves, adding hooks to hang plants is a great way to jazz things up,” she says. This brass design has a lot of unique additions that make it the most versatile wall ladder on this list. It has a mirror, four hooks, two hanging baskets, and a compartment tray. In an entryway, this would be perfect for stealing one last look at yourself and storing your keys, and in the bedroom this could easily work as a standing vanity.
If you are into details, more concerned with aesthetics than function and don’t mind spending a little more, there are wall ladders out there for you, too. This is similar to some of the teak ladders above but with the addition of a “beautiful contrasting detail,” says Sempliner, who loves the navy-painted legs. It’s also one of the tallest ladders on this list, at 75 inches, and would make a dramatic statement in a bathroom. For almost double the price, you can also get this ladder in wider 30- and 48-inch widths.
This leaning ladder is more of a shelf, but a solid option if you are in need of more storage. “The shelves and drawers make it great for storage as well as display,” the Forbes Masters team says. They think it would work well in a mid-century-modern-designed living room and have a number of different uses. It could be a bar cart, a bookshelf, or a plant stand, depending on the space. And even though this is one of the more functional wall ladders on this list, it still comes in a compact design at 29 inches wide and 73 inches tall.
“For a more artful piece with a practical side, this GTV ladder is available in solid wood, or with a black or white lacquered finish,” says Sempliner of this Gebrüder Thonet Vienna–designed ladder. “It would be beautiful in a living area or in a bedroom. It can be styled with just a single throw or robe hung on it, or with something on each rung, highlighting the curves and unique design.” The standard size comes with five rungs, but you can upgrade to seven or nine for more space and a more decorative look.
While this one isn’t technically a wall-storage ladder, it’s still a pretty cool-looking step ladder, and one that Strategist contributor Jinnie Lee has come to love for its versatility. Calling it “the most frequently used piece of equipment around my apartment,” Lee uses it not only to reach for high places, but also for “displaying books (though you could display other things) or hanging coats on it in full view.” It also takes up minimal space when folded up, for easily storing in a small closet.
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