21 Pantry Ladder Ideas


Get to that top shelf with ease using a rolling pantry or kitchen rolling ladder. More commonly known as "library ladders" - named for ladders used in libraries for the assistance of reaching tall bookshelves - they have become a more frequent feature in new homes with taller ceilings.

There are many details and planning that goes into choosing and installing a kitchen library ladder in your home. Be sure to check out "Adding a Library Ladder to Your Home" to learn more about the planning, hardware, and safety aspects to consider before installing a home rolling ladder system.

Rolling library ladders ideas for pantries

These pages are full of inspiration and ideas to indulge your pantry fancy. Helpful comments have been added that point out important features to think about for your unique pantry, kitchen, or home project.

Curved rolling library ladder

Curved railings are the ultimate luxury when using a library ladder. The ladder bottom will need to be picked up from the floor slightly when moving around the curve (watch this maneuver at the 2:39 mark in the video).

Library ladders in the traditional sense are in... libraries. This is such a beautifully designed library with wood details, curved shelves, and rolling ladder that it just had to be shared!

If your space allows, go for a curved railing. No need to hassle with picking up and setting down a ladder on separate rail sections. In this video, the presenter demonstrates how the ladder bottom needs to be picked up from the floor slightly when moving around the curve (watch this maneuver at the 2:39 mark in the video).

This pantry is definitely in need of a rolling library ladder! The curved railing will make the space a joy to use, but reaching the top shelves will be a little dangerous. Library ladders can be purchased or built in custom sizes; a taller ladder would have been better in this space. Refer to height placements on this page.

Wooden library ladder

This library ladder perfectly matches the stain of the shelves. Pantry ladders can be purchased in a range of finishes, but they can also be purchased unfinished so the homeowner can have the ladder stained to match the interior finishes in the room where it will be used.

A traditional rolling library ladder installation. Note that it is only installed for one part of the room, but objects can be reached on the adjoining shelves if close enough. Best practice is to never reach for items that are beyond your reach to prevent accidental falls.

Non-rolling library ladder; stationary

It's true, not all "library ladders" have wheels. In this sleek and modern design, the ladder may have been custom made, maybe the owner didn't much care for wheels. Safety is a significant part of owning a library ladder, it's difficult to see from this picture if the ladder is attached at the top and how stable the base of the ladder is for the user. Library ladder wheels have mechanisms to prevent the ladder from moving. Although the narrow rungs add to the minimalist design, from a safety standpoint, they could be improved to be wider to offer more stability for the user.

This is a fairly small pantry to be using a pantry ladder. Likely, it is not rolling. We can't see the attachment mechanism at the top, if there is one. In the small footprint, the ladder would have to be picked up and moved to the adjacent shelves for use. With planning, infrequently used items would only be placed on the high shelves. The ladder rungs provide more surface area than the previous ladder.

White library ladders for pantries

A white pantry ladder for your white pantry space.

Library ladder hardware comes in different finishes. Ideally, the railing track should match the "top hardware" on the ladder itself and ladder base wheel hardware (it's basically a set). In the adjacent photo, the pantry owner has chosen a brass finish to compliment the brass hardware pulls of the cabinet doors.

Putnam or Cotterman traditional rolling library ladder style

Note the position of the side base wheels of the ladder. The wheels can add an additional 6" of space to each side of a ladder, so plan on that. Some companies produce ladders that are "weight activated" meaning that the wheels lock as soon as someone steps on the ladder.

A classic install, likely a Putnam or Cotterman traditional library ladder.

Even small pantries can have library ladders!

Library ladders with side hand rails

This more industrial metal version of a rolling library ladder provides additional safety to the user in form of comfortable handrails

Metal library ladders

The materials of this rolling library ladder are obviously a custom install. The ladder railings have been installed in three separate sections for access in this space; the ladder will have to be picked up and moved to use.

Folding library ladder

Some rolling library styles allow for folding or setting the ladder up against the wall when not in use. This allows the rest of the space to be used comfortably without tripping over an extended ladder.

Worth noting is this custom-designed storage space for a library ladder that allows it to be placed out of the way when not in use. Use of a library ladder was needed in this situation, but because of space constraints or personal preferences, the ladder is not allowed to protrude into the room.

Shared rolling library ladder; moveable

Note the two sections of railing. One would have been preferred, but the choice could have been a limitation of stock railing sizes, or limited options in attaching the rail to the shelving unit.

A natural wood finish was chosen for this kitchen pantry ladder.

This is another example of a moveable rolling library ladder that can be used on both sides of a pantry.

I wonder if this library ladder has a curved railing on the other end? If not, the owner will have to pick up an move it to the opposite side when needed. That inconvenience will have to be factored in when planning for a kitchen library ladder in your home.

About the author 

Renee Matt

Renee is an Iowa farmwife with a background as a former kitchen designer. Supporting the family farm with hearty meals has been key to Renee's pantry readiness. She uses her professional IT background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life. Read more about this farmwife on her about page.

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