Welcome to MonDIY from The Southern Mermaid. I started this last week when I failed to complete the living/dining area redesign on schedule. The room is complete…minus a few finishing touches! All pictures to come later this week.
In the meantime, anyone up for another DIY? How about an upcycled ladder chandelier? Like the one in our brand new dining area.
I found the ladder lying around an old barn at an estate sale about a year ago. Surprise? I was the only one who wanted it. Here’s how it went from ladder to lighting.
Your ladder (and saw if it needs trimming), sisal rope, large cup hooks, paper grocery bag, yardstick, push pin, pencil, scissors, a Sharpie, level
Step 1: Cutting the ladder
We measured and cut the ladder into 4 sections, each about 4 feet long using a reciprocating saw. We only needed one section for our chandelier. Then we beveled the edges of the new end so that it didn’t look like we had just hacked it. I also took a little semi-transparent gray stain from Olympia and stained the new wood that was exposed. This stain does a good job mimicking barn wood color (in small patches, at least).
Step 2: Finding the center
You need to know where you want your chandelier to be centered. This is going to be crucial, and you’ll be able to tell if it’s off. So, use your tape measure carefully. Measure to your center point and put a light mark on the ceiling at this point.
Step 2: Marking corners
I’m sure there are lots of ways to skin this cat, but we did it this way. I used the paper grocery bag to cut a template of the rectangle where the hooks would go into the ceiling. I knew that the ladder would swing too much if the rope hung straight down, so we wanted to get the ropes hanging at an angle. I laid the paper bag on the ladder and used a pencil to mark the outside points on the two end rungs. Since I wanted the ropes at an angle, I needed the rectangle for the hooks to be slightly bigger. So, I went two inches out and two inches back from each point, making the rectangle four inches wider than the actual ladder and four inches longer than the end rungs. I connected the corner points using the yard stick and cut out the rectangle. This sounds way more complicated than it is. Sorry I forgot to take pictures.
Now, I folded the paper in half both ways. When you unfold it, the point where the folded lines cross is the center. I smoothed it out really well and put a push pin sticking up through the center point. Then I shood on a step stool and inserted the push pin into the center point marked on the ceiling. This attaches your rectangle to the ceiling with center on center. Then, I taped the rectangle up to the ceiling on all sides. So now, the four points of your paper rectangle should be the four points where you want your hooks. Just make sure you have the rectangle turned the way you want your ladder to go. We wanted ours to run parallel to the wall behind it.
Screw your cup hooks into the ceiling at the corners of the rectangle. Depending on the weight of your ladder, you may need to use anchors.
Step 4: Attaching the rope
Now, you need to know how much drop you want for your chandelier. We wanted it to hang 18″ below the ceiling. For an 18″ drop, I cut four 60″ pieces of sisal rope. So, I would say, you’ll be fine if you cut about 3 times your intended drop length. I tied all four pieces of rope onto the ladder first, wrapping the rope around the rung several times before knotting it.
To get your drop right, you will need each rope segment to be a little longer than your intended drop length. It’s hanging at an angle. Remember geometry…right triangles? Well the rope is actually forming a hypotenuse…the longest side of the triangle. So, for an 18″ drop, we went for 19″ of rope. Not that big of a deal, unless you need your drop to be perfect.
Using the yardstick, I measured 19″ from the top of the ladder rung and marked a line on the sisal rope with a sharpie. Repeat this for all four pieces of rope. Then I made a double knot in the rope, so that the bottom of the knot hit just at the sharpie line drawn on the rope. If all the knots are the same distance from the ladder, then the ladder should hang level.
Step 5: Hanging the ladder
This is where it helps to have two people. My husband, Noah, held the ladder, while I slipped the knots over the ceiling hooks. He released slowly, just in case the hooks weren’t secure enough to hold. They were!! We used the level to adjust the knots. You can reposition the knots on the hooks if you’re a little off. I think we only had to retie one. It happens…
Step 6: Let there be light
We had some lanterns left over from our wedding. They still need a paint job, but they’re up for now. I held them where I wanted them. Slightly staggered on the rungs and at varying heights. Noah tied them onto the rungs with twine. He wrapped the twine a few times, too, to prevent sliding. You’ll want to make sure that you distribute the weight fairly proportionally across the ladder.
I was nervous and put sofa cushions on my table for the first 24 hours, just in case we had a crash. Better safe than sorry with our freshly refinished antique table.
Hopefully before the final pictures, I’ll add a coat of paint to the lantern, put in some candles, and tuck some rosemary cuttings inside them for a fresh effect.
What do you think, is it better than before?
We think so! Can’t wait to show you the rest of our redesign! Come on back now, y’all!