Make Your Own Photo Ledge

Before we swapped the rug, shades and curtains and after we took down our photo ledges (luckily, they went on to a happier life after our building-wide yard sale), our living room was looking… sad. We think it was mostly due to that big, bare wall:

Now when you look at that wall, you’ll see this:

But, wait – let’s back up. Before all the recent action took place, we had a plan. I’d been pinning photo ledges, lusting after the layered look of  mismatched frames and bold art. After showing Scott a few of my ideas (thank you, Pinterest! – always to the rescue for my man who has to see it to commit), he was on board with a crisp, clean ledge, too. So we began collecting frames, and we agreed on a mix of current art + new-to-us pieces. Soon enough, we had amassed enough for one very long, jumbo rail (and FYI, our wedding photo on the end was just a placeholder until we purchased another Ribba):

To keep ourselves organized, we marked each frame with blue tape to label which art would go with what frame. This allowed us to play with the placement of frames and see what looked the best. From there, I was able to purchase any mats needed and finally, spray paint the frames a cohesive color (we went with white – surprise, surprise!).

Above, you can see our measuring tape lining the base of all those frames; our goal was to keep the future ledge under 8′, which we were barely able to do (but we did!). We toyed with the idea of using 2 of these from Ikea (for a total of $30), but we really wanted one continuous rail. By keeping our gaggle of art within the 8′ limitations, we knew we could pick up 8′ boards from Home Depot without needing to cut anything down – saving us time and money.

What we purchased:
• 1 – 1″ x 6″ x 8′ common board ($7.58)
• 1 – 1″ x 3″ x 8′ select pine board ($7.56)
• 1 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ select pine board ($4.65)

Tools and supplies we used:
• drill, kreg jig kit & screws
• clamps
• chamfer bit
• sandpaper
• paintbrush & mini foam rollers
Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 water-base primer
• Behr’s exterior semi-gloss paint in white (off the shelf)
• awl (or a skinny pencil)
• anchors for installation

In total, we spent just under $22 (with tax) for the boards. We had all our tools and additional supplies on hand, so there was no extra cost for us there. Note: Scott convinced to loosen my purse strings for the select pine. We purchased the common board for the base of the photo ledge since it would be completely hidden with frames and any warping could be “fixed” while we adjoined the pieces together.

Our plan was modeled off the Ikea Ribba picture ledge (no need to make things complicated), so we have a base, a front lip and a back support that gets anchored to the wall. The 6″ board acts as our base, the 2″ board is our front lip and the 3″ board is the back support.

Using a clamp on the Kreg jig, we started on the back support and drilled pilot holes for our screws every 16-18.” (You know we totally eyeballed it!) We had the option to drill in screws from the bottom, however, the Kreg jig allows the boards to meet with pocket holes for a strong, hidden joint. This allows us to skip spackling visible screw heads, as the Kreg holes can be capped with these guys.

To keep everything aligned, it helped us to use additional clamps to hold the structure together.

Once all of our pilot holes were drilled for the back support and the front lip, we created 6 additional holes – using a regular ol’ drill bit – on the back support. These will be used to anchor our finished ledge into the wall.

Scott used his chamfer bit on these additional holes to make a beveled edge, which will allow the screw’s head to sit beneath the surface of the wood. (AKA: It’s prettier!)

Once all the pilot holes were drilled into the back support and front lip (about 6 on each side) and our anchor holes were chamfered (again, we included about 6 of these on our 8′ photo ledge), we screwed everything into place.

Tip: Join your front lip to the base before moving onto the back support; you won’t physically be able to angle your drill to attach the front if you’ve started with the back (which would typically be taller)! And yes, we’re telling you because we did that. Heh.

Scott gave everything a finishing sand, then I followed closely behind with 1 coat of primer (we love Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 water-base primer) and 2 coats of Behr’s exterior paint. (After seeing how durable our outdoor planters have been, we chose to use the exterior paint and skip the poly step!) To help move along the process, I used an angled paintbrush for all the inner corners and a mini foam roller for the wider, flat boards.

Once everything had dried – we waited a solid 2 days, and then we waited an additional day before placing our frames on it – we held it in place and used an awl to mark where our anchors should go.

From there, we installed our anchors and drilled the big, bad photo ledge in place! We didn’t even bother to hide the screws, since we knew all of our art would do that job. After the additional (excruciating!) day of waiting, we settled in our framed art, which we had since finalized. Scott helped me with the placement, but we mostly referenced a phone snap we had taken before disassembling our jumble of frames.

Although the ledge is a very long 8′ wide, it doesn’t feel massive in person. And while we have more art on display than ever, everything feels more tidy; nice and neat. (Sorry, old shelves!)

For $22 in wood supplies, we were able to create a custom fit photo ledge, play up the big, bare wall and display more art (we just can’t seem to get enough) – and nearly wipe out our tweak-y list:

Makeover our $2 chair. (Done!)
• Reassess the end table situation – or lack thereof.
Swap our venetian blinds for easy, breezy cellular shades. (Done!)
Layer in curtains to hide speakers and add warmth, texture and height. (Done!)
Replace our shaggy rug with something that fits our oddly shaped room. (Done!)
• Re-upholster the lovely chair. (Working on it!)
Re-work our current art display. (Done!)

There’s more to come on what’s filling those frames, where the frames came from (mostly end-of-summer yard sales and fleas) and the artists behind the prints (some of ’em you might know if you’ve been following along for a while!).

For now, we wonder, how do you display your art? Are you into the mis-matched ledges of frames upon frames? Or do you prefer gallery walls with cohesion (or, perhaps, lack thereof)?

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  • I absolutely love this! Looks great! :)

    Fabulously VinatgeReplyCancel

  • Heather S.10.17.12 - 7:32 AM

    Looks great! I made a very similar one over a year ago and still love it.

  • Kim10.17.12 - 8:40 AM

    Heather, looks nice and clean!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY10.17.12 - 9:23 AM

    Love it!! The updates are really coming together =) Can’t wait to see the rest!ReplyCancel

  • Heather10.17.12 - 10:02 AM

    I can’t believe you got rid of the creepy Jesus. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Tara10.17.12 - 10:06 AM

    Love how Jesus was replaced with a donut!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis10.17.12 - 10:16 AM

    I have a unhealthy habit of collecting prints and not framing them or displaying them. I currently have a huge wall that is just begging to be filled with prints. I had been thinking of doing a gallery wall, but I love the idea of 2 or 3 long photo ledges and periodically swapping out the art.
    Your living room is looking lovely!ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.17.12 - 12:28 PM

      Thanks, everyone!

      As for Jesus, we couldn’t bring ourselves to get rid of the print (Catholic guilt), so it’s actually just behind the donut!ReplyCancel

  • Emma10.18.12 - 2:49 PM

    Golly that’s pretty. And you can switch it up as needed. I want a doughnut now.ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia]10.18.12 - 5:02 PM

    Now THIS is a blog post. :) The idea, the execution, the tutorial, the gif (!). You guys have outdone yourselves. This looks amazing. The whole thing.ReplyCancel

  • Lawton10.22.12 - 10:03 AM

    Love the gif!ReplyCancel

  • Laura1.14.13 - 1:08 PM

    I was wondering, how high did you hang the shelf?ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.14.13 - 2:12 PM

    Hi Laura, it’s a little more than 4′ from the ground.ReplyCancel

  • Laura1.14.13 - 2:41 PM

    Thanks, Kim! It looks great, and at the perfect height. :) The donut print really stands out, love it!ReplyCancel

  • […] many an afternoon on Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs, I came across this picture ledge from Yellow Brick Home. I am impressed that they not only made their picture ledge gorgeous, but […]ReplyCancel

  • […] many an afternoon on Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs, I came across this picture ledge from Yellow Brick Home. I am impressed that they not only made their picture ledge gorgeous, but […]ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Miller3.1.14 - 5:23 PM

    I just found your blog and wondered where the donut print came from. I love it!
    Melissa MReplyCancel

  • Kim3.3.14 - 8:32 AM

    Melissa, glad you found us! The donut print came from here:

    I emailed the shop owner and asked if she would do the strawberry donut, which she happily did! (We found her work at a local street fair and loved the quirk!)ReplyCancel

  • […] Make Your Own Photo Ledge | Yellow Brick Home. Oct 17, 2012 – I'd been pinning photo ledges, lusting after the layered look of mismatched frames and bold art. … Our plan was modeled off the Ikea Ribba picture ledge (no need to make things …. FIND THIS IN Art+DIY+Furniture · « Lovely … […]ReplyCancel

  • […] did not want to put a million holes in the walls so we did some research and found some inspiration here. Mark made these for the stairwell. He was able to make them in one afternoon, stain them and they […]ReplyCancel


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