Rolling Library Ladder

This post was imported from a blog called Contemporation where Amy and I wrote about the renovation of our 80’s contemporary home in Atlanta. That blog is no more but I wanted the content to live on.

We still haven’t broken ground on the addition, but in the mean time, we’ve been thinking about changes we want to make to the existing parts of the pulley house. I’ve talked before about how tiny and vertical the house is and the following picture illustrates it pretty well. Here, in a picture from before we moved in, you’re looking into the downstairs living room from the front door. In the rear there’s a small bedroom (barely big enough for a full-size bed) with an attached bath and just out of view to the left are the stairs that go up to the main level.

Before

We didn’t really have a plan for this foyer/living space, but with such a small opportunity for a first impression, we knew it had to be interesting. We decided we didn’t want to just make it another living room since the primary one was already on the 2nd floor.  The tall wall, open ceilings and (currently broken) fireplace gave us an idea. What if we had a bookshelf that went all the way up that wall, added some seating and turned the space into a cozy library.

We had already been eyeballing the funky modern Madison bookshelves ($89) from WayBasics and after seeing this picture of 2 units side by side, we were thinking that 4 of them, stacked 2 wide and 2 high on top of some sort of lower cabinet would give us lots of storage without looking like a boring bookcase.

We instantly knew that if we were going to have a tall bookshelf, we were also going to need a ladder to get up to the higher shelves – more specifically a library ladder. Despite being a relatively obscure furniture item, a quick search for library ladders Pinterest or Flickr provides plenty of inspiration. I’d love it if our little library could look anything like the photo below.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  “Prouve lab, library ladder” by robgiampietro

Well, in order for that to happen, we first had to figure out how to acquire a ladder. As it turns out, there are very few companies that even manufacture rolling library ladders. The most well-known of which are Cotterman and Putnam, but new ladders from those companies start around $1000. Zoinks! We found a few DIY hardware kits, but even those ranged from $200-$500 and we still had to buy lumber and build the dang thing. The next logical option was to try to find a used library ladder.

As a web designer, Craigslist makes me want to cry, but in a big city like Atlanta, you can buy or sell just about anything on there. Sadly though, my searches for track ladder, rolling ladder, library ladder and other related terms didn’t turn up any results. After a few weeks of fruitless searching, I set an automatic ifttt recipe to email me if any library ladders showed up in Atlanta. After that, I kinda forgot about my quest for a library ladder until I got an email in mid-May that a new listing popped up. The listing said they had several 10ft wood library ladders and that each came with 10ft of track for $200 each. The picture on the header of this post was the only one on the listing. What the post didn’t say was that they were all Putnam ladders and that one of them was actually 12ft – the perfect height for our wall. I picked it up for the same price as the others.

I couldn’t wait to see how the ladder would look in our future library…

After

OK, that’s probably the saddest before & after reveal of all time. As you can see, we’re currently using our downstairs living space as a storage unit. Our previous house was about 2,000 square feet and when you combine all three floors of the pulley house, we only have about 1,200 square feet. Most of the pile you see here are things we need or plan to use, but don’t yet have room for yet. Also we’ve also started purchasing fixtures and bathroom furnishings for the addition. So, obviously we can’t put together our cozy library yet, but man, that ladder sure looks good.

4 Comments

  1. Hi! I’m gnashing my teeth looking to find a rolling library ladder to build out my office. I’m in Atlanta and I’ve been researching ladders. I had the same ‘yikes’ reaction you did. Are these people with the ladders available still around? If so, I’d really love to know about it.

    Cheers!

    Oliver Perrin

    • Wow. This comment was in moderation for a while. I’ll send an email too, but I left on the notifications from the IFTTT recipe I mentioned in the post and I’ve seen a few library ladders pop up since then.

  2. I’m looking for a library ladder to use for a loft in my mountain cabin. I’m in the Atlanta area also. Can you give me info on where you found your ladder?
    Thanks, Richard

    • As I explained in the post, I found mine on Craigslist. It was listed by a place called Stamps Store Fixtures (http://stampsstorefixtures.net/) for $200. They had maybe 10 or so when I went to pick it up. They were all Putnam brand ladders and all were used. The store owner said they only get them in occasionally and list them on Craigslist when they do.

Leave a Comment

Latest Tweet
Somewhat Recent
The Whole Nine Yards