An overhead shot of a step ladder turned into a decorative plant stand. Small faux plants sit on the top and bottom. A small planter of pink peonies sit on the first step.
Home » Blog » DIYs » Decor DIYs » Upcycle a Ladder into an Adorable Plant Stand {+ a Summer Patio Tour}

Upcycle a Ladder into an Adorable Plant Stand {+ a Summer Patio Tour}

Do you have a patio, porch, or a room that feels a little barren? Or maybe just a corner of your patio that needs a something? If so, you’ll love this simple, affordable, and adorable Ladder turned cottage style Plant Stand DIY !

This simple DIY can make for a super cute plant stand or (depending on the size) a place to set your drink when you’re out on the patio. It can also make for super cute décor — a place to style to bring a cozy, charming feel to your space.

Because I adore Romantic Cottage & French Country Cottage style décor, I decided to stencil a French Script onto my ladder. You can use the same French Script stencil or another patterned stencil! And there are use a few different mediums you can use to stencil it with, from Gel Art Inks to Chalk Paint. Or you can opt to paint it and leave the stencil off completely. You could also come back over the first layer and create a chippy finish. Wouldn’t that be cute?!

All that to say, that no matter what your style is, this project can be for you — it’s super customizable!

a DIY painted plant stand stenciled in a French Blue French Script is sitting on an outdoor patio. A small vase of pink peonies sit on top of a vintage chest.

Find a Small Wood Step Ladder

First, scope out your local yard sales, garage sales, and estate sales! You can sometimes find the best hidden gems there! Also, check on Facebook Marketplace — that’s we found this one! For just ten bucks!

An old step ladder sitting on a drop cloth outside.

Keep in mind the dimensions of the steps when you’re shopping. Because the depth and width of the steps and top are going to be a big factor of what you can actually sit on top of it. The one that I found has steps that aren’t that deep so I can only sit small pots on the lower two steps. But there are some on the market that are made wider.

In case you strike out there, I’ll link some here for your convenience.

Gather Your Supplies

Next you’ll just want to gather your supplies. The nice thing about this project is that you probably have several of the necessary supplies on hand already!

Prep Your Space

Don’t forget to prep your space with a small drop cloth or something similar to protect your floors and surfaces.

Clean with Clean Slate

Next, you’ll need to clean it with a product called Clean Slate. If the ladder is covered (or anything else you want to paint with chalk paint) in wax or grime, that will prevent the chalk paint from adhering to the surface. So, in a ventilated area, put on some gloves, and pour out some Clean Slate onto a lint-free rag. And then just wipe or scrub the piece down to clean well.

Note: This is a step that some will skip, but please keep in mind that the paint may not adhere properly if you skip this step. And that may lead to chipping paint (not in a good way) down the road.

Prep with Painter’s Tape

Inspect the nooks and crannies of the ladder. If there are areas that you’d prefer not to paint or to paint in another color, apply some painter’s tape for nice clean lines.

For instance, you may want to keep the metal brackets unpainted. Or maybe you’d like to keep the steps a natural wood tone and the paint the sides or vice versa.

Paint Ladder with One Step Paint

Next comes the BEST part –pick a color of One Step Paint! I went with a white shade, called Weybridge White, but there are so many other beautiful shades to choose from! Now the reason I painted this with One Step paint is because unlike some brands of chalk paint, you don’t have to prime, strip or sand! And for interior use, you DON’T even have to seal it. It’s a self sealing paint — that happens to smell ah-mazing!! Note: If you use a different brand, the process would be different as some brands require stripping, sanding, etc.

Painting a step ladder with white chalk paint.

Oh, and if you like the stenciled detail, also order a small container of a secondary color.

I recommend to pour out a small amount of the One Step paint into a dish or painter’s cup so that your entire container isn’t exposed to air. Another tip is to keep a misting bottle handy. Spritzing your brush before you paint can really help you get a smoother application. Now, just paint that baby to your liking!

Choose an Adhesive Mesh Stencil

Okay maybe this is the best part! Pick out an adhesive mesh stencil to add visual interest and charm! I love to add French Charm to my home, so I used the French Script Stencil. Some other stencils that would be super cute are: “I am the Vine”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Be the You the world needs”, and “Woodgrain”. Just copy and paste those names into the search bar on this stencil — I will link them for you to explore.

Applying an adhesive mesh stencil to a wood surface.

Once you have your stencil, remove the backing (but save it for later). Try to line up the stencil as straight as you can. Then rub it into the surface to get good adhesion (so you can get a clean look).

Stencil with Gel Art Ink or your desired shade or mixture of One Step Paint. On this ladder I used a 1:1 ratio of “French Blue” and “My Vintage Affliction” — both One Step by Amy Howard at Home. The photo below is how those two colors look mixed together — a color that’s making me swoon!

a mixture of two blue chalk paint colors in a plastic container.
This is the 1:1 of French Blue and Vintage Affliction colors mixed — the perfect light blue shade!

After you’ve stenciled a section, take your stencil over to the sink. Give it a quick scrub with water and mild dish soap to keep it in mint condition. Dry and repeat, if desired.

Keeping your stencil clean will ensure that you can use it over and over again! 

White and French blue chalk painted upcycled ladder.  A French font is on the surface in a French blue shade of paint.

Seal for Outdoor Use

I do sit our new “plant stand” on the patio in the spring and summer quite often, but I generally bring it inside at night because our patio is not covered. But you could seal it, so that you could leave it outside. I haven’t tested the outdoor sealants, yet. Have you? Which brands do you think hold up well?

Now, if you can find a ladder that has steps on both sides, you can add your own plywood (or other support) to create more surface area for plants! This adjustment to your ladder plant stand DIY will help you have space for a ton of plants!

Style it up your Ladder Plant Stand

Okay, maybe this is actually my favorite part! You can style up your cottage-style ladder plant stand to your liking. Since we don’t have a covered patio and because we live in a very windy state, I love to style mine with faux plants, faux flowers and décor. Depending of the width of the steps, whether or not your patio is covered, you may decide to use real or faux plants. If you’re a big real plant lover, I would recommend to use on the ladders with a deeper step so that your plants stay put.

Here’s how I styled this little ladder at the start of spring (before our last frost date).

A bird's eye view of a DIY ladder plant stand with plants, books and decor styled on the stand.

And now for a little summer patio tour! (Patio and Summer are two of my favorite words!) Here’s how I styled up the ladder on our patio in June! I think it brings a whole lot of charm to our patio!

See the cute potted plants just off to the right? Those were originally terracotta pots! And I DIY’d them to have an aged pottery effect– I just love how they came out! If you’re looking for other décor ideas for your patio, check out DIY on “Aged Pots” for patio plantsl!

French Country Cottage style patio is decorated with wicker furniture and vintage upcycled wood furniture pieces.
A vintage chest, a painted step ladder, and potted plants are sitting near a wicker patio chair on a patio.

If you’d like to see how I styled the ladder for fall, be sure to check out this post on decorating the patio for fall!

Thanks so much for joining me for this fun furniture flip/repurposed décor tutorial! My patio décor felt a little sparse before — this was the perfect dose of cottage charm we needed out here. Now I’d love to hear from You!

Will you be keeping your eyes open for a little ladder to upcycle into a plant stand?! And, what color would you paint it?! Let me know in the comment section below. And if you have any questions, please leave a comment below or over on Instagram.



Before you go, check out this fun video I created for this project! Music credit is “The Business” by Tiesto.

* This post contains affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through these links at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting the RouseintheHouse blog.

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