Beach Cottage Makeover – Vintage Ladder Junking Find

Thu 29th, Mar, 2012

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So, if you are part of the Beach Cottage Club & subscribe to the newsletter, you will know that we have a little house guest in this old cottage…she is very shy and her name is Lucy…

Lucy likes walks and so on the weekend Mr Beach Cottage, Little Mr Beach Cottage, Lucy and I went for a walk to the coffee shop…and on the way we passed lots and lots of junk because it’s Council Clean-Up time (if you are reading this little ole blog from the beaches from overseas you may now be frowning in confusion…junk on a walk?…yes where we live every 3 months or so people get to put out their unwanted stuff in the front of their house…and it’s get picked up and taken to the dump)…so on the walk, minding our own business, loving Lucy and chatting we came across a vintage ladder on its side on the grass….

“oooh Mr BC look at that”


” it’s a good one”


“we don’t need anymore vintage ladders in the house”

“no but this one’s really good”

“whatever” +eyebrows

walking on about 6 or so houses on and around the corner was another one, this time a step ladder, the one you see here, from the roadside you wouldn’t have been able to see it but from the path it was sitting there looking all vintage, shabby & peely…




“look at this!”

“oh wow we haven’t got a step-ladder so why not add that in as well” (+ eyebrows)

And so we walked on up to the coffee shop and I was raring to get back, get in the car, come back and collect them…ready to bring them back to this old cottage and put them to a better use than going to the dump…it’s my little bit for the environment I like to think…yes I know I like the odd bucket of bleach or two but I very much upcycle…in fact in this picture above alone, things saved from getting smashed and going in landfill…vintag suitcase : garage sale, table : side of road  oar : side of road.

I must say I had low hopes for the first one being there when we got back…it’s happened to me before with stuff like that, I am clearly not the only person that loves vintage ladders…if you see those on the side of the road, or in Vinnies, do not even think about hesitating on picking it up or buying it, because when you get back to get it it will most definitely be gone.

As in most things with vintage…if it’s old and they ‘don’t make ‘em like that anymore’ someone, somewhere will want it.  Especially things like this for two reasons 1. they are perfect shop accessories for displaying things on and you will notice this kind of thing in little boutiques and some of the bigger shops that have been ‘styled’ by window dressers etc   2. shops like to sell things like this because they are quirky but more importantly, at this size, they are easy to transport…



And so this was it, after sending Mr Beach Cottage out to do the dirty work and rumbling around in other people’s junk he came back with only this, the other one had already been picked up…but it was better than I thought…

No the orange won’t be staying as I am sure you can imagine…I am going to turn this into a beachy coastal style decor delight!


… the seashell pink peely vintage shabbiness  is so up my alley and of course comes with that faded patina that only time can make and money oh so cannot buy…

My first thought for this was as a shelf in the study or the new bathroom…but now I am actually pondering this in the dining room with stuff on it, or for the same use but on the deck…

It’s VERY dirty this one…looks, by the cobwebs, dirt and grime as if it has been in some out-building or maybe even outside for a while…



…nothing a Beach Cottage Special can’t fix though…that means serious brushing, vacuum, clean & then copious amounts of disinfectant via my trusty and much-loved friend the good old bottle of Dettol…

Thinking coat of fresh beach cottage, trade-marked, ;-) hand-mixed white where the orange was and leaving the pinky peely bits in all their glory






Your thoughts beach cottage virtual junking associates?






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53 Responses to “Beach Cottage Makeover – Vintage Ladder Junking Find”

  1. You always find the best junk! I adore your little ladder.


  2. Candy says:

    Oh yes, keep the pink shabbyness (is that a word?)!!! I missed out on a similar one in aqua a few months back….hubby wasn’t so enthrawled and by the time I went back alone, it was, alas, gone!!! Didn’t get to comment on the Summer House so will do that now…love me some french doors and white, white and more white! It’s all turning out so lovely, Sarah, and Lucy is adorable, BTW!

  3. Ellie says:

    I have every faith in you that you will make it look super cool. You remind me of a girl I worked with. She could decorate her house with anything and it looked fantastic (twigs with fairylights attached to a wall for example). Looking foward to the “after” pics!
    Hows the house guest doing? Do you like having a dog around and will she be a vintage ladder addict by the time she leaves you?! ;D

  4. Love your lil’ stepladder. I had one a few years back I used in my lil’ apartment by the creek. That ladder went in every room at one time or another. There are so.. many uses besides stepping on them! he! he! Bathroom for towels, a flower ladder, holder of books, I do think the only place i did use it for it’s “intended” purpose was the kitchen for reaching the high shelves. As usual can’t wait to see your finished product.

  5. Oohh… loving that wee ladder. adorable and FREE? Yeah, we don’t have to many sweet little things dumped by the side of the road. Lucky girl, you.

    Could she serve some purpose in the summer house?
    xo, Jay

    ps. Thankful for you, Sarah, and ABC. The few minutes I spend visiting you and your cottage by the sea are amoung the favorites in my day.

  6. I loove it and can also see the potential. Lucky it was still there when you got back, I would not have left the first one. I would have walked the streets like a turtle with the ladders strapped to my back. Husband would have been mortified and so embarassed he would have run home to get the car. All healthy walking and the coffee abandoned. Nothing like a bit of public humiliation to get what you want! I am beyond worrying what people think of me, most people ’round here think I am mad anyway, lol!!

    • oh yes, have to add, in our recent floods when people were putting out all their furniture and wet junk on the side of the road, people were driving around in trucks picking up all the solid wood pieces, with some paint they would be perfect! Way too many people gave up their stuff thinking the insurance companies would replace it all. A lot of things only had wet legs, perfect to paint in my opinion. Plenty of ‘weathered ‘gear.

  7. Sarah says:

    I can’t wait to see what you do with it. We have something similar hanging in the garage we use for DIY, maybe I could put it to a better use!

  8. kerrie says:

    We never have junk (treasures) like that on the side of our roads…you are one lucky duck!

  9. This is divine! It is the perfect chippy color and awesome shape!

  10. Deanne says:

    Fantastic find- so cute, a good scrub and a coat of white over the orange and she will be sweet!!!!

  11. Selby says:

    I think it will be great to give it another life- and it will look fabbo! I’m trying to find something similar but five steps high for my garden as a pot plant display:)

  12. Amy says:

    I have one almost just like this. But it’s painted white now and sanded down. I hung it on the wall and put little white wooden shoes on it that my great grandma bought her flower bulbs in, and some greenery. I love it. I can’t wait to see what you do with yours!

  13. Caz says:

    Do you think you were a pirate in another life coz boy you find some treasure ;-) I love the shabby pink and it will look oh so beautiful once its had that touch of white – I so want one. Love the eyebrows as well :-)

  14. Super cute! I have recently discovered the delights of roadside ‘shopping’ lol….where I come from in NZ they don’t do roadside collections. Where I now live (Lake Cathie NSW (aka paradise!) they seem to do them but just randomly, like people stick stuff out at no particular time then I think they ring the council and say come and get it. I wish to did them on set dates, it would make it so much easier for me! So far I have scored a perfectly sturdy pine coffee table (which I beachified, post attached below), a bar stool and a dining chair, which I also painted (as you do!). My husband has got used to me slowing down whenever I see a pile of junk on the road, and even my kids point them out for me, and help me to see what is there so I don’t crash the car, hahaha.

    xx Karen

  15. Can’t wait to see how the pink stands out after you add the white. And, oh, how I wish we had Council Clean-up time here on my little island, because it sounds so much more fun than combing the thrift stores!

  16. Jean says:

    Love it! And you can’t beat free!

  17. rosemary says:

    Well spotted, she is a little beauty!

  18. Christy says:

    You find the best stuff! I wish we had Council clean up here!!!!! Love the pink, and once you do your BC magic on the orange it’s going to be perfect! Can’t wait to see…:)

  19. Karlee says:

    ooooooooooo finds like that little beauty make me so excited! How good is finding ‘junk’ like that?! Its a cutie
    We havn’t had a council clean up for ages actually – maybe one coming up soon, HOPEFULLY =D

  20. Claire says:

    We have the same concept here in our area of London – from time to time the council does a mass collection of anything people want to get rid of. Last time it was a Sunday so I was at home and as the morning wore on I became aware of more people than usual upping and downing the street, armed with all sorts of bits they’d salvaged from outside other people’s houses – very funny to watch people being so unashamedly resourceful! Looking forward to seeing your little ladder makeover Sarah x

  21. Chrissy says:

    I love it! So many places you could use it. I could definitely see it in your bathroom but it would also look fab on the deck. Great find Sarah! We also have council pick up this week but I’m forcing myself not to look as we are moving house in a few weeks!!


  22. Great score! Clean up week is in May around here. I always have my eyes peeled C:

  23. alison says:


    Your step ladder’s second cousin lives at my house. I got it for $5 (yes FIVE DOLLARS) at my local Vinnies. I gently picked her up as soon as our eyes met coz I knew she’d be gone by the time I did a circuit of the shop.

    Re your ladder conversation with Mr BC. Just substitute “old chest” in the conversation and it pretty well follows several chats with Mr alison. Just on sundown the other night I boldly pulled up outside a house up the road, left the engine running and put a huge old chest from their clean-up pile into my hatchback – thank heavens for the removable back shelf, fold down back seats, towels and pilates mats. I’ve been watching and thinking about the chest for a couple of days. As it was still there I knew it was meant to be.

    Ye old chest came home happily but as I have told you my house is full now (in a stylish way, not in a hoarding way) so I put it in the backyard on bricks and covered it with an old raincoat so I could ponder its fate. It took Mr alison less than 24 hours to give me “the look” and ask of my intentions for the chest.

    Well…there is a garden nursery/cafe near my house and they sell lots of quirky old bits and pieces to use as garden ornaments to display potted plants or to grow plants in. As ye old chest isn’t in pristine condition I am going to put it in the garden or somewhere in the backyard, fill it with dirt, prop the lid open and grow daffodils or potatoes (if that’s possible) in it. I won Mr alison’s approval when I said potatoes as he has been wanting to grow some for ages.

    Now, what to do with the other chests in my collection? Secretly I do just love having them, even if they are not being used.


  24. Janelle says:

    Oh yeah Sarah, good score. Gorgeous!!! And I think you’re spot on with painting the orange white and keeping the yummy dirty pink. It’ll be great, you can just drag it around the cottage as and when you want! And hope you have a fab time in Melb, I love it!!! xx

  25. Susan says:

    We have a once a month large item trash pick up, for the most part what is discarded is veneered furniture. So sad. :(

  26. Michelle says:

    I love that you rummage through roadside collections Sarah. Me and my kids used to do that in the city and boy we had some good finds and they used to drag home, I mean literally drag home some good finds. My daughter called it ‘street shopping’and she loved it and she only ever bought home stuff she knew I would want and a few thrifty things for herself too.

    I love old step ladders, I think because they remind me of my grandfather who was a carpenter and always had a few around, I loved the smell of his shed. It didn’t smell how sheds smell now all oil and petrol, his smelt like wood and I’ve loved that smell my whole life.

    I can’t wait until we move so I can tackle some uplifts here I need to do but no point while packing. Oh and I have to say your conversation with Mr BC made me laugh because that’s exactly how Chris and I are. He always gives me ‘that’ look when it comes to picking up stuff from the tip or the side of the road.

    have a great day :)

  27. I get the same reactions from my hubby……he doesn’t put up much of a fight now though.
    In fact he’ll come racing home from work and go roaring of in the station wagon to bring me something he knows I’ll like.
    Isn’t that just LoVe right there? Who needs flowers from a shop???
    BTW I just LoVe the ladder! Can’t wait to see how she scrubs up……
    Tania Maree xx

  28. Stacey (harrimar) says:

    Sarah, I really love the size of this one and I’m so glad you said you are going to leave the pink, thats just beautiful. We don’t have road side collection in our small town, everyone is given vouchers and told to take it to the tip themselves, they do have a shop where you can go in and buy though, but I think a lot of “treasures”just get discarded as rubbish and put into the dump anyway. I’ve been on the look out for old wooden windows, but no joy unfortunately. xo

  29. Alice says:

    That step ladder is a real beaut find! I was thinking that exact thing(leaving the sides as they are but painting over the orange) gorgeous!!! I love the idea of putting it in the bathroom… For some reason it makes sense and I don’t know why….

    We had luck 2 weeks ago… Walked past a house that was being renovated and amongst all the junk my Hubby (insert angel singing here), out of all people eyes a chair turns to me and says do you think you could do something with it? I just stood there with my mouth open and frozen in disbelief… Did my husband just say and do that? Pinch me I must be dreaming… Once I snapped out of the shock I said hell yeah… It’s nice and solid and sturdy, has nice wood work… I can sure do something with it… So he picked it up and carried it himself back home!!! Now that it has been given it’s make over it sits in our bedroom looking fantastic… I think it is finally rubbing off Sarah lol.. A very nice find indeed Sarah, loving that step ladder!

  30. Nicole W says:

    Ooooh she is full of chunky gorgeousness! Can’t wait to see where she ends up & what lovely treasures will sit on her =)

  31. Nicole W says:

    And I totally get the Dettol thing! My kids, tho not vintage have a splash of Dettol in their bath every night.. ;o)

  32. Isobelle C says:

    I ADORE THIS!!!! I have been looking for a step latter for to long. I have a spot in the living room next to an armchair that is just asking for one topped with books, candles etc

    The awesome shabby finder Sarah strikes again!

  33. Rukmini Roy says:

    Like. totally. I cant wait to see what you turn it into. You know how about keeping it in your kitchen with some potted herbs! Should look really beautiful. Or maybe out in the deck with some glasses and candles! Ah I can see possibilities here but you’ll know best.

    Lucy is too cute. I have a retriever at my parents place and got me two guineapigs in my apartment which my mum would not approve of when she knows. She doesn’t know :P Fuzzy and Zoe they are.

  34. Oh yes nice vintage style and gorgeous decoration in beach. ladder is also beautiful. We also offer all kind of decoration.

  35. Kris says:

    Great find Sarah, I Love your style. Have a great week

  36. You ALWAYS find the best stuff, Sarah! Love that ladder. x

  37. Katherine says:

    That is a PERFECT looking little ladder – I absolutely love it! The orange is kind of cute – but probably not very BC! lol

    Here’s a tip – if you want to do it for the enviroment, swap your bleach for vinegar!! Probably 1/4 to 1/3rd-ish part vinegar to 4 parts water. I am pretty certain it is a natural disinfectant. I clean everything with it – including the loo!!

    Happy scrubbing Sarah X

  38. the freckled minx says:

    Loving the adorable ladder (and the orange paint) but that’s just me……..B:)

  39. Mel says:

    ladders like this are gorgeous, not easy to come by, but very popular, also in the garden with little pots on or something growing up a single ladder leaning on a fence. i think too many people have cottoned onto combing through other people’s junk. apart from kids ride on toys I’m not finding much else these days…. not that it keeps me away. from my own junk, its amazing what people will take . well they do say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure – so true. im dreaming that i might find a ladder like this in our tornado looking streets with rubbish everywhere, but i think not. well done sarah and half your luck. enjoy!

  40. Steph says:

    Love these times of year. My boyfriend cringes….

  41. Oh, very much love your little ladder treasure! I want one too! Actually I want a few of them lined up against a wall with their rungs painted in different vintage pastels! Can’t wait to see the finished product xx

  42. Mandy says:

    I would move that little ladder right into my tiny one bedroom apartment! Although my boyfriend might kill me. I love orange but my mom is into the white cottage aesthetic so I understand the desire to switch it up. Good luck!
    <a href="http://littlemaison.com/2012/03/26/millinery-magic/Millinery Magic

  43. Kathy says:

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH! She’s perfect! I love both the pink and orange, too; but could also go for the white steps. Perfect size and that pink….I just don’t know how that person put her out to the road! (Could have been the hubby…my sister’s has actually burned antiques, and a 100 year old oak floor, because it was OLD! Now she calls me when he threatens to start a fire. I have some great kitchen cabinets, and an antique sleeper sofa made of wood, that we are in the process of re-doing. Thank goodness she was home that day to call me! She was gone the day the flooring went!)

    At any rate, I love all of your rescues! We have spent many years doing the same. This week I am re-doing an old farmhouse table that we pulled from the side of the road. Robin’s Egg Blue legs, off white table top. Can’t wait till it’s done!

    And, I can’t wait to see what you’re doing each day!

  44. Jasmine says:

    So cute! I must live in the wrong area, my roadside collections are full of old TVS and exercise bikes, haha.

    x Jasmine

  45. jennifer says:

    I Loooooovvveeee It !! I can hear it calling its thanks for saving him/her ;) !!!

  46. Angie says:

    I do love the ladders..please please watch this with Mr BC he will appreciate it from the sound of your post! Have you heard of Terry Tibbs and his wooden ladders?

  47. sharran miles says:

    lucky find girl!!!…down this way in “the shire” they’re stopping council pick up cause of all the people that drive around doing “the scab”…. so do it while you can !!! if i had your cute little ladder i would gently roll over the pink with white paint on a small roller so the pink still shows through a bit( if you dont push down hard the paint doesnt go into chips n cracks so undercoat still shines through)
    and sand back the orange to wood !!!!….ooo !! now i really want one!!!!…

  48. Anne says:

    Awesome find! I actually like the orange and pink together, truly!

    Can’t wait to see what you do with this one :)

  49. Barbara says:

    Sarah, don’t know why I’m just now seeing this little step ladder. I suppose it’s painted but I really thought the orange was a pop. I have one but it’s just raw unpainted wood and I can’t decide what to do with it. I like the light gray or gray blue beachy color but I can’t paint everything that color!!

    Love your way of speaking as I was born in Durham and grew up till age 8 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Your expressions remind me of me and why, due to the arrangement of some of my sentences – like yours, people in the US don’t seem to follow me somehow. So it was fun to “hear” your voice and know I’m not mad. Love the beach, and your are so funny with Mr BC and his eyebrows — I have one of those too. And he makes use of both of his often. Barbara

    • sarah says:

      haha I have actually had an Australian ask me here when lining up to register for a sports’ carnival for one of my kiddos if I could speak English to her!!!!!!!! that was a first for me…hello errrm I think I am the English one ololxx