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Design

How To Order A Rolling Library Ladder + The Price, Lead Time, And The Different Style/Finish Options

I think it’s fair to say that we all love the idea of a rolling ladder – the romance of it is seared into our brains from fantasy libraries of yore, a la Belle in Beauty and the Beast. I too was awaiting my big rolling ladder moment and figured that the mudroom was the perfect stage for its big debut. But not having ever done one before I didn’t know how to execute it and surely felt intimidated. They all look vintage but are they really? Is it one of those luxury things that is like $12k? Are they custom-made? Do you have to be a designer to do one? (no, no, can be, no). So today I’ll walk you through our rolling ladder “journey,” as led by ARCIFORM as they have lots of rolling ladder experience. I’m not saying it’s the only way to do them or the only source to get them from (totally not gifted or sponsored) but I was surprised at how not a big deal it was.

How Do You Order A Rolling Ladder?

I don’t have a bunch of options for you, just the one that we ordered. Most of the ladder is standardized – the distance between rungs, the overall width, etc. The most specific piece of information you need to provide, that only you know, is the exact height of the rolling rod/rack pole thing that it slides on and the length of that rod. It’s pure geometry. With this information, they will ensure that the height of the ladder itself is the right angle (not a right angle) to climb up as well as the correct angle when it’s not in use (it retracts much straighter – keep reading). Jamie (our lead ARCIFORM project manager) ensured that we were ordering the right rod height and length because I don’t do measurements accurately.

As you can see there are wheels on the bottom that go right to left, and hardware on top that you install on the rod that rolls left to right (and is very safe as it is secured on top and bottom).

To save space, avoid tripping, and be less of a kid-temptation, the hardware allows it to easily go more vertical and hug the cabinetry. It’s extremely easy to do this and this is how it is most of the time.

What Are The Design Options For Wood, Metal Finish, And Style?

We bought ours from Custom Hardware Services LLC, and you can click here straight into what we bought here: rolling ladders. The metal finish options are below.

We chose black because we had black in our lighting and the Oil Rubbed Bronze looked, well, brown.

We also chose the more old-fashioned brake wheel although I’m unsure how it brakes. But since it’s recommended it felt like the right thing to do.

For wood options, you have cherry, hickory, red oak, and maple. We chose unfinished red oak and it came in a very light color wood (think blonde).

There are more custom options on their site (like adding handrails), I’m really only guiding you through what we did.

If you want to know our exact order (besides the height which is totally up to you) here you go:

Rolling ladder, Black, Brake wheel, Standard roller, Normal red oak ladder, 20” wide, Unfinished, Straight rails, Normal mount, Regular stop kit, Horizontal brackets, No accessories”

When it came in it was too light for us (to us it looked cheaper and more IKEA-like) and we wanted it slightly darker than the cabinets. Jamie put a clear coat on it and it brought out the grain more, but still too light.

So we ask ARCIFORM to send out their lead painter who is the same guy that matched the wood of our incredible top of the island. He’s been custom-staining anything for years and years and doesn’t just choose one. He’s a real mixologist.

He sampled a few and based on his suggestions (and our opinion) we went with the red mahogany which admittedly I was like, “huh” but he was absolutely right (and he says it’s the stain he uses when he wants something to age well and look older faster). It pulled the tone from the darker tones of the Unique Kitchen And Baths white oak Cabinets and said it will age very nicely.

How Much Did It Cost? And How Long Did It Take?

The ladder and rod system was $1800, with the shipping an additional $200. It comes flat-packed so that doesn’t include the install. It took a day to assemble the ladder and hang the system by someone experienced (shout out to Jamie and Taylor), plus more time for staining. The lead time was around 6 weeks (might have taken longer but it felt around that long). To me both of those things – price and lead time, were reasonable. Could you make this for less? Probably, but not me:)

We love this ladder and of course, want it in all the rooms (Closet? Should we create a library in the family room?) For those of you wondering if it’s dangerous for the kids my response is “eh…not really”. Like most things, when it got installed they were a bit enthusiastic and reckless, but we hammered out some rules quickly and they lost interest. Turns out they don’t really want access to the backup pillowcases as much as they thought they did 🙂

Mudroom Resources:
CabinetryUnique Kitchen and Baths
Wall Paint Color: Extra White by Sherwin-Williams
Paneling and Trim Paint Color: Dew Drop by Sherwin-Williams
Floor TilePratt + Larson

Tile InstallerLevel Plane
Dog Washing Stone: Bedrosians Tile & Stone
AppliancesBuild with Ferguson
Skylights: Velux
Stone Fabrication: Alpha StoneWorks
Hardware: Rejuvenation
Light FixturesRejuvenation

Rolling Ladder: Custom Hardware Services LLC

*Design by Emily Henderson and ARCIFORM
*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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Elle
1 year ago

The only way this could be more dreamy would be if it were in an actual library.

Nina
1 year ago

The ladder looks so good. I love it and the mixologist did a really good job with the paint/stain, making it look vintage.

Vera
1 year ago

Thanks Emily this was interesting! This whole room is dreamy.

Cris S.
1 year ago

I’ve always wanted a rolling ladder – they feel so romantic and old fashioned but fun at the same time. Thank you for laying it all out here!

I actually need ladder advice – when we renovated our home all our daughter wanted was a ‘nook’ at the top of her room, which has a high arched ceiling (she’d seen one on a home tour); some fun private place she could crawl up into. It was built into the attic space above her brother’s room and though it is ‘finished’ with lighting, etc there is no way to access it as our GC kept ignoring it and refused to deal with it (he’s a whole different story).

It needs a ladder and some sort of wall/barrier (the word escapes me right now) so kids don’t just fall down. I regret having it built honestly but there was a lot of mommy guilt involved. And now it’s just a hole at the top of her room. Any and all suggestions welcome, especially if you know a specialist in the Chicago area.

Christina
1 year ago
Reply to  Cris S.

I have a similar issue in my house! We have a large loft space that we are currently just using for seasonal decor storage because it doesn’t have any easy access and it’s only worth pulling out the huge latter a few times per year. I have two kids under 4 so am nervous to put in anything permanent like a ladder until we also put railing in. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of installing railings and I think your best bet will be to get a GC involved. Ours will likely be super expensive bc it’s so long/narrow so I’m just putting it off, but have thought of various design ideas- mainly taking inspiration from stair railing. Good luck- it sounds like this could be magical in your daughters room!!

Cris S.
1 year ago
Reply to  Christina

Thank you Christina – this makes me feel less alone! I’ve looked into having someone build something that is both a bookcase and a ladder, both where the ladder is build along the stepped side of the bookcase, or nestled in the middle of it. But at this point the several thousand that would take is going to go to out of state tuition at Michigan State, where she’s a freshman now (yes, safe but traumatized). If you ever do anything with yours I hope you’ll post a picture!

Cindy
1 year ago
Reply to  Cris S.

So we have a similar space and ended up placing a hook-on ladder for access. There’s a trough type wood ledge that mounts to the edge of the loft instead of a bar for sliding. The ladder doesn’t have wheels or slide (accident avoidance); you hook it onto the trough and can go up and down and you, or the kids, won’t slide to the side. The ladder can hook on anywhere across the trough but it is stable. You can take it off and into another room (see cool storage below from another commenter). Hubby put some barriers across with modified staircase banisters and now we have a cool play/storage area that’s not a disaster-in-waiting for the curious and unsupervised. I used a ladder maker I found on Etsy who shipped us the ladder and the trough-slide-rail. Hope that’s helpful.

Christina
1 year ago
Reply to  Cris S.

Our last house (in Toronto) had high ceilings in the bedrooms that followed the roofline, and each bedroom had a ledge above the (normal height) doorway and along that wall that was kind of like a little storage balcony, but with no railing. In our kids’ rooms we talked about putting in a railing and installing climbing holds so that they could use the (partial) climbing wall to get up there, but never made it happen. I like your bookcase/ladder idea but hear you on the cost. But Cindy’s solution sounds amazing.

Kj
1 year ago

I posted this on the mudroom reveal, but another option to consider: creating a dedicated “storage” place for your ladder. Library ladder fun with no obstacle. The butler’s pantry is from here: https://luxesource.com/historical-details-lend-timeless-style-to-a-seattle-home/. The white kitchen is by M. Steffens Interiors about 3 years ago: https://www.msteffensinteriors.com/portfolio

F2026B06-73D1-4CC9-BEF9-2A577EDFD6D0.jpeg
monica
1 year ago
Reply to  Kj

Such a better way to store the ladder when not in use! In Emily’s mudroom, it seems lie the rail could have been designed to go around the corner of the wall where the door to the family room is. The ladder could be out of the way during daily use. The way this ladder is would drive me crazy on a daily basis – it would have to be constantly moved to get to the lower storage areas, and when it is pulled out from the wall is a tripping hazard. I suppose it coudl be used to hang laundry on to dry! I just don’t get this trend. I would prefer a $20 step stool that could be stored in the cabinets for the one or two times a year that the upper cabinets need to be accessed

DonnaJ
1 year ago
Reply to  Kj

No shade , but storing the ladder on its own rack seems like such a pain.. Every time one wants the ladder one has to like get the ladder off the track and hook it into the new track?

ally
1 year ago

Gorgeous, Emily. It’s such a stunning room and that ladder is perfect.
Would you mind sharing where your jeans are from, as well?

xx.

Shannon
1 year ago

This looks beautiful. It seems from the video and the angle of the pics that the ladder hardware would obstruct the ability to open the cabinet door directly above the top of the ladder. Is this the case or am I misinterpreting? If this is the case, is that a necessary part of the design for some reason? And if not, curious why the rod wasn’t hung lower to allow for easier access.

Chari
1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

I wondered the same thing!

Jeanne
1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

I think that’s a visual illusion from the camera angle being lower. In the photo above the wood/finish choices, it looks like the door clears the top of the ladder. When the ladder is in storage mode, it does block the door. I think that’s why they have a professional do all the measuring, so that blockage wouldn’t happen.

Chari
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanne

Thanks for your thoughts. I hope someone in the know answers us as the video makes it look like the ladder is in the way when emily opens the cabinet.

Chari
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanne

Why would she open that cabinet and not the one right at the top of the ladder?

JenMS
1 year ago

The brake wheel is definitely a good choice. We have one without the brake wheel and the ladder slides left/right as you climb it. It’s not that big of a deal, but I wish the ladder stayed put when I am on it.

JenMS
1 year ago

Here’s our ladder 🙂

ladder.jpg
Cris S.
1 year ago
Reply to  JenMS

Jen – what a great room and I love the way you’ve built up to gather the books around you. If I ever make the effort to put in built ins to replace the very very large heavy second hand bookcases/tv cabinet that is there now, maybe I can incorporate a later there and fulfill that dream. Love your paint in the hallway too!

Stacia
1 year ago
Reply to  JenMS

😍

Roberta Davis
1 year ago

Interesting! That didn’t cost as much as I would have guessed! I always thought rolling ladders were so cool. Now that I’m older, I am much more leery about getting up too high. My balance and strength are not what they once were. (In high school I would climb to the top of a ladder that was on a platform and stand on the top of it to do something to construct theater sets!) I wish I had one in my kitchen, though.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago

As someone who is very comfortable at heoghts, I wonder how those who are not might feel using this?

I think it’s genuinely a beautiful piece of accoutrement for the mudroom! The woodgrain is stunning and I love wood do much. I think I’ll never have a reason to need one, but yours mskes me want one.🤗

Elaine
1 year ago

This room is just a beauty – the floor tile here and in the bathroom has been hugely influential (just realised I’ve fallen foul of an influencer 🤣) in the tiling decisions I’m taking in my own house. Each time I see them it reinforces my thoughts on tile. The mudroom, the house really, encompasses everything I love about decor – subtle colour, warm wood tones, beautiful light fixtures and texture through tile.

Sheila
1 year ago

Flagging that these ladders don’t work very well on carpet; my folks had one installed and it is a chore to drag it around the carpet. In case anyone was thinking about this for a carpeted room, now you know! Seeing it in Emily’s mudroom is absolutely stunning and makes these types of ladders make much more sense.

Idle
1 year ago

Gorgeous. Would you be able to share how much actually building (as opposed to designing) the cabinetry in this mudroom and kitchen cost, and where you found your craftsmen? The inset style seems to require more specialised skills.

Kj
1 year ago
Reply to  Idle

The cabinetry was built by Unique Kitchens and Baths: https://www.uniquekitchensandbaths.net/cabinetry and installed by her contractor after delivery.

Christina
1 year ago

I love this room and the ladder! Have you detailed what’s in the upper cabinets along with backup pillowcases? I’m endlessly curious/nosy about people’s storage systems.

1 year ago

Hi Emily,
Yes, this is the real stuff! Being a book nerd, I love the idea of this library-type ladder. (Didn’t Sherlock have one too, in the “Elementary” series?).
In any case, its design is wonderful. What a fantastic thing to have! And now we know how to get one!
Really appreciating this post!
Chris Bocay