Tag Archives: gallery wall

DIY Picture Ledges

Is it just me, or does anyone else like to update a room every few years or so?  Jer thinks I am crazy, especially when I talk about redoing things that he thinks of as ‘done,’  Every time I look through old photos or blog posts and realize how long a picture has been hanging in the same place or the walls have been a certain color, I get the urge to start changing things.  I just tell Jer that is what he gets for marrying an interior designer!

Lately I have been feeling the need to give our living room a bit of an update.  It was one of the first rooms that I painted when we moved into our home almost five years ago.

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One of the main walls has a gallery wall full of photos and art that are fun and meaningful to our family.  I have added to the wall over the years, but it is getting too full to add much more.  I started thinking about some options that would allow me to rearrange the wall and change out items a lot more easily, and with fewer nails pounded into the wall.

blank wall

Hanging picture ledges was an obvious solution.  Picture ledges are screwed into the wall and then you can just lean your photos and art on it without the more ‘permanent’ nails.  This means you can layer items, and you can also switch them out a lot more easily.  I have looked at hundreds of images for inspiration, but this one is what finally motivated me:

one kings lane_rebecca minkoff_FAMILY PORTRAIT IN FRONT OF GALLERY WALL

I have looked into purchasing picture ledges, but most were either too small, too expensive or not good quality.  This week, I decided to tackle building my own ledges.  After researching several tutorials and plans on the internet, I found Ana White’s Ten Dollar Ledge tutorials.  She has both written instructions and a video.  Both are very helpful if you are relatively new to woodworking.  I ended up purchasing four 8-foot 1×4 boards and two 8-foot 1×2 boards.

ledge wood

My ledges would be called Twelve Dollar Ledges (inflation since 2010), but that is still a great price.  I also purchased a Kreg jig to make pocket holes, so I could hide the screws on the underside of the shelf.

jig set up

It was incredibly cool and rewarding to end up with such a sturdy and professional-looking product when it was finished.

 jig hole

I built two 6-foot ledges for our living room wall, and plan to use the remaining 2-foot pieces to make bookshelves for our kids.  Many people paint their picture ledges black or white, but I decided a light pine stain would give me the desired look.  

Stained ledge1

I can always paint later if we get tired of the wood.  Once the ledges were aired-out enough to bring into the house, I marked their placement on the wall and located the studs.  

Underneath view

(The above picture reminds me; make sure the boards you purchase are straight.  I laid all mine on the floor on all sides, and still one of the 1×2 pieces ended up a little wonky on the end).  

Since the ledges are 6 feet long and will be holding quite a number of pictures, I wanted them to be as secure as possible on the wall.  To make sure they were in the right place and level, I first used painter’s tape as a guide.  I screwed in the center screw first, and then rechecked to make sure it was level before putting in more.

pic ledge measure and level

Once the ledges were hung safely on the wall, it was time to arrange the pictures.  My ledges are about 4 inches deep, which means there is room to layer frames, and I can also add in smaller objects for display.  

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I started by placing the larger frames in the background, and then began adding in the medium and small frames.  I am sure things will be rearranged often, but to me that makes it the perfect solution.  I quickly realized that the round frames were not going to work on the ledge, so I ended up hanging them on the wall instead.

Final ledge

We can have the gallery of photos and art we love, but I can change things up whenever things start to look stale.  I finally got around to updating some of the photos and filling in some blank spots.  I still want to repaint soon, but this little project helped give me a needed change in only a few hours.

 

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A Growing Gallery Wall

I finally made some great progress on our living room gallery wall.  My article for ISJ (see below, at end) was what finally got me in gear.

The wall has been in the process for over a year, and I keep adding to it, or unintentionally taking away as the kids decide to remove a frame or two.  For awhile now, I have used all black frames of all sizes.  I liked black because it kept things somewhat cohesive, but it started to feel a little too neutral for my personal taste.  A few months ago, I came across a photo in Better Homes and Gardens featuring brightly colored frames, and I decided to add some color to our wall.  But first, I wanted to change all of the off-white mats to crisp white.  After trying acrylic craft paint, I discovered white spray paint worked much, much better!

But, the white spray paint also gave me the idea that it might be fun to just paint some of the mats bright colors, instead of repainting frames…and so I did.

Similar to giving a mouse a cookie is giving Becky a can of spray paint…it never stops.

On some double mats, I used a paint pen to add color to just one mat.  I also left some white, since my photos and art are also pretty colorful.

I recently added a large circular frame, because things were looking a little to squared for me. And on a recent Target trip, I came home with three fun circular gray mirrors. Since the lighting in the living room could be better, I hung a simple black wall sconce where it could be used for reading.

And another angle:

Plus, sometimes you accidentally end up with free art when you decide to randomly spray paint picture mats!

I am happy with how it is coming along, and very happy that it can be added to as we want to.  Obviously, I just hang pictures wherever I feel like it and don’t cut out templates from newspaper, like I suggest.  Nail holes are easy to patch, although I honestly didn’t have to rehang a single frame yesterday.  That sometimes isn’t the case.

How about you? Any gallery walls or new art hanging in your home?  I would love to hear all about it!

*Article I wrote for the Idaho State Journal, June 7, 2014, slightly edited for the blog.  I will link to flourishidaho.com when the link is available.

One of the things people ask me for help with most often is hanging art on a large wall.  Although one large piece of art can look fabulous taking center stage, often people either can’t afford or don’t want to commit to a large piece.  I think the ever-popular gallery wall is a great solution, especially since it typically infuses the room with your own personal style.  But, if the thought of pounding even one nail into the wall has you sweating, 10 or 15 nails might just delay your picture hanging progress indefinitely.  Here are a few tips to get you started with confidence.

 

1. Figure out the look you want to convey.  Do you like everything symmetrical and matching? Maybe you like something a little more random, but still neat and tidy? Maybe you prefer a look that is more organic and free-flowing.  Some of you will want a wall that is finished all at once, and others will want something that can be added to over time.  Take a look at gallery walls online if you aren’t sure what you prefer.

2. Decide what you want to incorporate.  Some gallery walls are made up of just family photographs, while others have a mix of photos and art pieces.  Still others have mirrors, decorative plates, text, hooks, etc. hung as a collection or mixed in with art and photos.  It is your wall, so make it personal to you and your family.

3. Choose your frames or items.  Look through the frames you already have and purchase more frames as needed. I pick up inexpensive frames at thrift stores, garage sales and discount home stores, and then I spray paint them if needed.  Many people choose all white, all black or all wood frames, but gold frames are also very popular right now.  In the past, I have used all black frames because I typically frame brightly colored photos and art and I wanted to keep the look cohesive.  I am currently enjoying the look of assorted frame colors and styles, so I am mixing things up a bit with some brightly colored frames mats. If you want a more formal look, try frames or items that are all the same size.

4. Experiment with different arrangements.  The best way to arrange your gallery wall is to gather all of your frames, art and miscellany together for the entire wall.  That way, you will be able to lay everything out and arrange it to your liking.  Another tip is to trace each frame onto an old piece of newspaper and cut it out. Then, tape each piece to the wall and get the placement correct before you start pounding in nails.  You can also mark where the nail needs to go, and then hammer it in right through the newspaper.  Consider a grid if you like symmetry, and use a level.   I typically start with the largest piece in the center, and work out from there, leaving about 3-5 inches between pieces on all sides.

5. Hang your art and enjoy the results. Consider hanging picture ledges and leaning your art and photos against the wall for a flexible and layered look.  Now, take a step back and enjoy your hard work.  Gallery walls always attract attention, so be prepared for people to linger!