You’ve heard the phrase “If the walls could talk,” but what if stepladders could talk? After all, walls are immobile. Stepladders go where the action is. They’re spattered and spilled with history. When children move away…when baby arrives…when storms cause damage…when there’s finally money to remodel the kitchen. Stepladders are on the scene during life’s transitions. They are uniquely qualified to tell the stories of our life.

If you could see my stepladder, you’d know immediately it’s been well loved (just check out the cover photo here!). I’m not embarrassed to say I have genuine feelings for this inanimate tool. How could I not? Layer after layer of paint bring to mind favorite color schemes, failed experiments and exhausting projects that have left me feeling letdown or euphorically lifted. I’ve spent countless hours on my ladder, appreciating its comfortable steps and its just-right size. I imagine my stepladder’s most uttered phrase would be, “Here she comes again.”

Often when I see a ladder, I picture my dad, a lifetime handyman, on its steps. With tools strewn about, he seemed always to be fixing something—partly because he liked to and partly because he belonged to a self-sufficient generation who didn’t have money to pay others to do their work, and wouldn’t have dreamed of it even if they’d been rich as kings. I’d like to think my stepladder would say, “You remind me of someone.”

My ladder makes me feel powerful. I love the transformation interior design brings to our lives, and I love the concept of redesign—how it restores nobility to forgotten furnishings, how it allows me to stretch our family’s budget, and how it helps me feel I’m being a good steward of our planet’s resources. I’d like to think my stepladder would say, “Keep up the good work. Help the redesign movement grow.”

My ladder makes me feel accomplished. I see dozens of paint colors on its frame: fired earth…summer sparrow… rustic taupe… and the gold and burgundy from our first house where our kids spent most of their growing up years.

I can’t imagine buying a new stepladder, one that’s fresh and clean. I’d have to be purposefully sloppy to lend some character to that stranger and begin to forge a friendship. I’d like to think my stepladder would say, “I’m ready. What’s next? Let’s get to work.”

Enough about my stepladder. What about yours? Next time you start a project, give yourself a gift. Take a few extra minutes. Look at your ladder. Let its years of paint, plaster and scrapes flood your mind with unforgettable memories. Reflect on your life. If your stepladder could talk, what stories would it tell?

Now, what will you do next to love where you live?

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