The biggest mistake I made in my Seattle kitchen remodel was not extending my cabinets to the ceiling. I thought it would be a waste to install inaccessible storage; but instead the space just became a collector of dust and paper airplanes launched by my children. Why didn't I consider a library ladder?
Above: The high-elevation storage in this TriBeCa Kitchen by Fearon Hay is accessed by a steel design from German manufacturer MWE. The Positionable Classic Stainless Steel Ladder doesn't require a rail—the stable rocker arm and rubber feet allow the ladder to be safely adjusted to any tilted angle; $2,402 (for the eight-foot size) at Better Building Hardware.
Above: The MWE Quattro Rolling Stainless Steel Ladder has top and bottom rollers to allow for easy movement without any lifting. An automatic stopping device is activated by stepping onto the ladder, preventing it from budging while in use; $5,218.40 for the standard system with a 10-foot rail and an eight-foot ladder at Better Building Hardware.
Above: The rolling ladder at New York City confectionary Papabubble was sourced at Elephant's Trunk Country Flea Market, a seasonal monthly market in New Milford, Connecticut. A sure-bet source for something similar: Putnam Rolling Ladder Co., a downtown New York institution since 1905. Custom rolling ladders start at $1,137.
Above: Architect Chris Greenawalt used a wood hook ladder to optimize storage in the kitchen of a small apartment in a historic building in Charlestown, Boston. Spiral Stairs of Erie, Pennsylvania, offers Rolling Wooden Ladders in red oak, maple, and cherry in 8-, 9-, and 10-foot lengths; $490 to $740. Corresponding Rolling Wooden Ladder Hardware Kits are $468 to $715 depending on finish.
Above: For ultra-secure footing, consider the Azkent Stainless Steel Hook Ladder with stainless steel steps (as opposed to bars); $3,903 for an 8-foot ladder and 10-foot rail system at Better Building Hardware.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on April 3, 2013, as part of our Cult of the Kitchen issue.