Project: Rope Ladder Shelves

This nesting instinct of the third trimester has been hitting me hard lately. I want to clean, decorate, and renovate the entire house! Being a stay at home parent means that I’m always thinking about what I can do around the house. It also means that I don’t have a bunch of free time or energy to do all of those things, especially as I’m also taking classes part time.

However, when your main bathroom is in dire need of some shelves to fill in the empty space above the toilet… Well, I find the time! 10-20 minutes per day for about a week was all I needed to get this job done. The idea to hang the shelves from the ceiling rather than the wall came from the fact that our walls are super weird to drill into. They’re not standard drywall. I have no idea what is underneath the clay surface. But they’re pretty, so I don’t mind.

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I dug around the internet for some inspiration and the rope ladder style caught my attention the most. Here’s what I ended up needing for this project:

  • 6′ of wood, cut into thirds (I used scrap lumber found in our garage – distressed and very solid!)
  • 25′ of natural manila rope, 3/8″ thick
  • 2 eye bolts
  • 1/2″ wood boring drill bit
  • drill
  • stain
  • sandpaper
  • stud finder
  • level

Someday I will own a power saw. Today is not that day. So, these boards were cut using a hand saw. Awesome arm workout! Once they were cut to size, I drilled holes in the corners for the rope to fit through. I made sure the holes were slightly bigger than the rope thickness so there wouldn’t be any resistance when threading it. After the holes were drilled, I sanded the boards down and gave them each a coat of stain.

To install the shelves, I first found the ceiling joists to make sure the eye bolts had a secure fit in the ceiling. I cut about 12′ of rope for each side, looped the rope through the eye bolts, and started threading the shelves starting with the topmost shelf. I used a level to make sure it was nice and even, then tied knots beneath each hole. After each shelf was installed, I cut the ends of the rope (but left a couple inches for fun) and called it finished.

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The best part was adding the decorations. Some useful items – TP, wash cloths, reading material – and some just for fun. I’m pretty proud of these custom built shelves to be honest. I’m glad that I didn’t buy some brand new wood from the hardware store since the very distressed scrap lumber I found looks extra good against the rope.


Who knows, maybe next summer it’ll be time to build an actual rope swing out in the yard!

3 thoughts on “Project: Rope Ladder Shelves

    1. Hi Joe, thanks so much for commenting. These shelves are indeed pretty cool. Though they are free-hanging, they rest against this nook in our bathroom nicely and are quite level and stable (they of course swing slightly when you handle the objects on them).

      What you see in the photos is still what we have up there: a heavy flower pot on the top that seems at no risk of falling, some decorations and books, and a stash of TP that we use and refill regularly. While I wouldn’t recommend putting anything heavier on there, the shelves seem to work for basic bathroom decorating. I guess it all depends on how well the hooks hold in the ceiling. The ropes and wood do just fine.

      Take care!

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