It can hold towels, magazines, blankets, and more.

By Real Simple
Updated September 26, 2017
Julia Wade/Clarkson Potter

If you don’t have enough room for towels in your tiny bathroom, or wish you had more room for reading materials in your cramped bedroom, this easy rope ladder is the DIY organizer you didn’t know your home needed. Crafted by Janet Crowther for her new book, A Well-Crafted Home: Inspiration and 60 Projects for Personalizing Your Space, this simple project requires just three inexpensive hardware store supplies—two types of dowels and some cotton rope—and about an hour of your time.

“Its tall, slender design adds versatility to tight spaces. Not only is it a smart storage solution, but it also looks like an art object itself when unadorned,” writes Crowther. The finished result: a versatile, small-space organizer that can be draped with towels in a bathroom, holds blankets in a living room, or stores jewelry and scarves in a bedroom closet.

What You’ll Need:

  • Two 1¼-by-72-inch round wooden dowels
  • 2 scrap pieces of wood, same thickness, to hold your dowels while drilling
  • Two ¾-by-15-inch round wooden dowels
  • 12 feet of ½-inch-thick triple-twisted white cotton rope
  • Tape measure
  • Drill and ¾-inch spade drill bit and ⅝-inch drill bit
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Masking tape

Follow These Steps:

  1. On each 72-inch wooden dowel, draw a straight line from top to bottom. This line will help guide your hole placement. All drilled holes should be made along this line.
  2. Measure 3 inches down from each end of the 2 longer dowels and make a mark with a pencil along the line. The holes for the smaller wooden dowels will be drilled at these marks.
  3. Using a ¾-inch drill bit, drill holes halfway through the longer dowels, making sure that the drill bit doesn’t pop out on the other side of the dowel. Drill the 2 holes on each dowel, making sure you keep all the holes along the straight line.
  4. Next, mark where the holes for the rope will need to be drilled on each long dowel. Measure 11 inches down from the center of one ¾-inch hole and mark the place­ment. Continue all the way down, spacing the holes 11 inches apart so that you end up with 5 marks on each dowel. Hold both dowels next to each other to check that the marks line up on each side.
  5. Working over a scrap piece of wood, use a ⅝-inch drill bit to drill all the way through the dowel at each mark. Before drilling, make the dowel level by placing the other piece of scrap wood under the other end of the dowel. This will help make sure the drill goes straight through and not at an angle.
  6. Drill all 10 holes for your rope. Sand down the hole openings to remove any splinters and to soften the edges.
  7. Apply some wood glue inside the top and bottom ¾-inch holes on each longer dowel. Twist the ¾-inch dowels into place, connecting the longer dowels together. Leave the ladder flat to dry overnight. Sand off any leftover glue once dry.
  8. Cut 5 sections of rope, each about 27 inches long. Roll masking tape over the end of the rope to keep it from fraying.
  9. Push 1 piece of rope through each matching set of holes and tie a knot in the rope outside each dowel. You can make the rope as taut or loose as you would like. Keep in mind that, since it is cotton, the rope will stretch a bit when something is placed on it.
  10. Remove the tape and trim the ends of the rope to your liking. Fray the rope by pulling the triple twist apart with your fingers.

Reprinted from A Well-Crafted Home. Copyright © 2017 by Janet Crowther. Photography by Julia Wade. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.