Simple Steps to Fill a Large Wall with a DIY Picture Ledge
This blank wall in our living room has been through many changes in the past few years. Nothing really stuck or looked right to me. We needed something substantial – some way to fill a big, blank wall. After rotating around artwork, family pictures, mirrors, and iron and wood pieces, I finally landed on making this DIY picture ledge.
What I love about this project is the versatility to change it up and also how much wall real estate it covers. And as an added bonus – it’s a really great beginners’ project! For anyone starting out with making your own home decor items, this is a great project to start with, since you need minimal tools and you will do very straight forward cuts.
I rounded up all of the items I used to style the picture ledge in the links below. If I couldn’t find the original, I linked similar products. That wooden/mirror piece on the right, for example. I got it at World Market years ago and they don’t sell it anymore. But I found something similar for you from Target!
Shop the Look
Although these are pretty simple plans, I created a step by step guide to build the picture ledge that shows the dimensions for the build. Enter your info below if you’d like a printable plan with dimensions.
Here is a list for everything that I used for this DIY picture ledge:
- (1) 1×4 stock, cut to 7′ long (or however wide you want your shelf)
- (1) 1×3 stock, 7′ long
- (1) 1×2 stock, 7′ long
- 1.5″ wood screws
- 2.5″ wood screws
- wood glue
- glue brush
- drill bits to pre-drill holes
- miter saw
- stud finder
- table saw
- orbital sander
I wanted to use materials that I had on hand, so I ripped down these pieces of cedar on my table saw. However, the great part about this simple build is that it uses common stock found at the store.
Like I said, a great beginner project, because you don’t need a table saw to rip it down if you just end up buying it dimensioned off the shelf. But if you want to use stock you already have, rip (1) 1×4, (1) 1×3, and (1) 1×2. Otherwise, you can find these exact sizes at the store.
I ran all of my pieces through my planer just to clean them up a bit. Being that they were cedar and a little rough on a few sides, doing this saved me a ton of sanding time. You could skip this step if you bought the lumber off the shelf and it doesn’t need much sanding.
This is when you would cross cut your pieces with your miter saw to size. Mine were 7′ long, so I just decided to keep it that size. This size filled the wall space well and worked for my space.
I have found that it is much easier to sand before it is assembled, so you can get into all of the nooks and crannies easily. Using my orbital sander and 120 grit sand paper, I sanded all of the sides of all 3 pieces. I was careful to go over the front top corner of the 1×2 and round it off a bit. This gives it a finished look and achieves what a router with a round over bit would do as well. Just a small finishing touch that I think makes the piece look a little more polished.
Next, glue the 1×4 to the 1×3 using wood glue and a glue brush. Clamp it together so you can drill support screws from the back of the piece.
To prevent the wood from splitting, you will want to pre-drill holes. I just purchased this drill bit set and love it. It’s amazing what a difference quality tools make, even for something small like drill bits. It’s worth the cost for quality tools sometimes!
I also use a countersink bit so that the head of the screw will sit flush with the wood and not scratch the wall.
You can see what the countersink bit does below in order to make the screw heads sit flush. Since this is up against the wall, it’s a must in order for the picture ledge to sit flat against the wall.
Add 1.5″ wood screws to attach the 1×4 to the 1×3.
Once those two pieces are glued and screwed together, you can attach the front 1×2. In order for there to not be any holes/imperfections in the front of the piece, this 1×2 will just be glued on. If you use sufficient quality wood glue and evenly distribute it with a glue brush, this will be plenty strong for its use since it isn’t load bearing.
I opted for a darker stain for my space, almost black. It went well with the rest of my room, but you should choose whichever paint/stain fits your space the best.
I always recommend testing your stain on a scrap piece of the same species of wood to make sure you like it first. I have ruined more projects than I’d like to admit because of the stain choice. Trust me, test it out first!
To give the picture ledge a finished look, protect it, and even out the wood tones from the stain, I gave it a few coats of sealer. This helps make it look a little more professional and finished.
Alright, now that it’s made, it’s time to install it! Since it will most likely be holding an ample amount of weight, you need to locate your studs with a stud finder and install the picture ledge directly into those. Mark however many you can to fit the width of the shelf – the more the better.
Pre-drill your first hole that will go into the middle stud. Don’t worry about pre-drilling the rest of the holes just yet – we will do that once it’s up on the wall and level.
To make it easier to level, only add this one screw for now.
You can now pivot the picture ledge on that one screw as needed to get it level.
And now you can pre-drill the rest of the holes to line up with the studs. Add the screws directly into the studs. Do this for the remaining studs. Again, the more the better!
And now the fun part – style it!
Shop the look of the whole space below!
Shop the DIY Picture Ledge Items
To get a PDF printout of the plans for this DIY picture ledge, enter your information below to have it sent straight to your inbox.
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