Tyler and I have been searching for the perfect ladder/staircase/firepole/anything to reach our loft bedroom for years. Before we actually built our cottage, I was dead-set on having some kind of staircase (inspired by a cob house we visited in Iowa). Sadly, once the walls went up it became pretty obvious we didn't have enough space.
We were tired from 3 months of building and feeling frugal after so many expenses. The idea of creating a custom ladder was more than we could bear.
After some consideration, we vetoed the idea. The ladder would have to be mounted on the wall when we weren't using it, hanging in plain sight. Neither of us wanted that visual clutter in our tiny space. We wound up moving in before the house was finished, bringing a metal construction ladder with us. Because we didn't know what we wanted, and we were too burnt out to build something else, we just kept using it.
It’s been a bummer living in a beautiful house whose most prominent feature is a giant metal ladder. Making matters worse, it's not even tall enough to reach the loft! When we get to the top, we have to grab ahold of anything we can and heave ourselves into the room. The annoyance of climbing up and down made me dread having to pee in the middle of the night!
After much debate, we decided that what we really wanted was a sturdy ladder that could swing up and out of the way easily. We ran this idea past our blacksmithing friend Erik and he said he could build us something that would do just that. Sadly, we came to this realization about a week before he and his wife, Radha embarked on a year-long bicycle tour!
At our straw bale workshop this summer, we posed our ladder predicament to Dale, a machinist from Michigan. After the event, he and Tyler stayed in touch, and together they designed a mount that would solve all of our problems. It would be a simple metal plate with two ladder attachments and a single bolt through the middle. The plate would rotate around the bolt and the ladder would swivel on the attachment points.
It took a few months of back and forth, but eventually, the mount arrived in the mail. A few days later, Tyler test-fit the prototype. It was perfect! The following weekend, we tackled the project of building a wooden ladder that we could attach to it.
What we wound up with is so much better in every way than our old metal ladder—it's beautiful, unobtrusive and easy to climb. It feels so good to have this major conundrum laid to rest! Our tiny house to-do list is dwindling! HOORAY!