Gallery Shelf Ledge DIY

If you’ve been following along for awhile, I know I promised a couple of months ago when I posted this living room post to put up this gallery ledge tutorial, and I’m a horrible blogger and lied to you…but I’m putting it up now!  I made these almost 2 years ago, and they have held up perfectly (knock on wood) with no incidents.  They are pretty darn easy to make, and they can make a huge impact in a room!  I knew I wanted a way to display our photos where I could easily swap them out and change them around.  (I tend to get bored easily with things.)  I couldn’t find what I wanted length-wise, and the longest shelves/ledges I did find were ridiculously expensive from Pottery Barn.  Insert my beginner DIY skills here…

I started googling things and found some different DIYs that I thought looked fairly easy and coincided with the look I wanted.  I combined a couple of different ones I found online and then just kind of winged it at parts.  One of the tutorials I followed was from Emily at The Wicker House, because hers was one of the simpler ones I found that went along almost exactly with what I was wanting looks-wise.  I like the look of the back being higher than the front, although it doesn’t really matter since my whole ledge is covered up with my photo gallery.  If you are going to have gaps showing, then you would need to take this into account.  I also just found this photo ledge DIY that Joanna Gaines posted on her blog this past June, and it looks super easy and very similar to how I did mine!  Joanna can do no wrong in my mind ; )

Since I made these 2 years ago before I started blogging, my pictures aren’t that great of quality, and I don’t have as many detailed, step-by-step photos that I would like, but you should still be able to get the idea.  To start, you need to measure and figure out what lengths you would like for your ledges to be.  You can also make the “bottom” base ledge as thin or as wide as you want it, depending on what you are wanting to display.  I chose to use a 1×4, so the bottom is 4″ deep.  The same goes for the back piece that will be drilled into the wall.  You can make it as short or tall as you want.  It really doesn’t matter at all, just depends on aesthetics and what you prefer.

Once you know your sizes, just head over to Home Depot or Lowe’s and pick out your lumber.  You will need 3 different pieces.  I chose a cheap pine, which I would not do now or recommend.  Only because one of the boards is a little warped, and I didn’t realize it until it was all put together, and we drilled it into the wall.  So make sure you choose a good quality wood and definitely hold it up to make sure it looks straight and doesn’t have any warps in it.  You can see in the picture below how warped my 1×2 is.  How the heck I didn’t notice this is beyond me! This will also be important when gluing or nailing the pieces together.  They will cut the wood to size for you at no charge.  If you don’t have a saw, this is perfect for you!  Let them do the dirty work!

Once you have all of your supplies, listed below, you’re ready to start!  First off, you want to sand your board to get rid of any rough patches paying special attention to the ends where they were just cut.  Once you’ve got everything smoothed over, you’re ready for the next step.  If you want a more roughed-up look, the first thing you need to do is to give your boards some character.  (If not, just skip this step.)  I wanted my boards to look a little more worn than look like they were fresh wood just bought at the store.  If you are needing to get out a little aggression, this will be perfect for you ha!  I did this by beating them with a hammer and hitting them with a chain.  Continue this until you receive your desired look.  Just remember that the stain will bring out the imperfections more than you can see in the raw wood.

Next, you are ready to stain your wood.  I chose Min Wax Wood Finish in Special Walnut & Classic Gray.  I just got these from my local Wal-Mart, but you could also get them from Lowe’s or Home Depot.  I combined two colors, because I didn’t want just gray or brown, rather something with a more weathered look.  I first stained the boards with the gray stain.  I just wiped it on with a napkin, let is sit for 3 minutes, worked my way down the board, and then wiped off any excess.  Then I let that sit for an hour to dry.  Next, I went over it with the walnut stain using the same method as above.  You should start light and add more stain until you get your desired look.  If you start out too thick and dark, you can’t go back and remove it!  Once you reach your desired color, let that dry for another hour or so.  This first picture below shows just the gray stain.  The next one is the finished product with the gray and brown combined.

Now you’re ready to assemble your shelves!  From here, you could go a couple of different routes.  You could either glue your boards together using clamps or nail them with a nail gun.  I chose to nail them, because I didn’t have any clamps to hold the board together once glued.  I chose to nail the front 1×2 to my bottom 1×4 with a nail gun.  I used Gorilla Glue to glue the boards together for extra support before we nailed it also.  Then I drilled the back 1×4 into bottom 1×4 using 3 screws for each shelf (1 near each end and 1 in the middle).  Next, we drilled the ‘L’ brackets into the bottom and back of the shelves for extra support.  Then, we drilled the back of the shelf directly into the wall, again using 3 screws.  Voila!!  Your shelves are ready to be loaded down with all the pictures and decor you can find!  Sorry I don’t have pictures of every single step, but I tried to explain it pretty thoroughly, and you can always follow the other two tutorials I listed above.  The finished product is below!  If you look closely, you’ll see how my top shelf is a little wonky and warped, hence why I told you to be super careful when picking out your wood!! I didn’t notice this at all until we had already drilled them in the wall, so there was no going back then.  You can see some much better pictures of them in my home post here from a couple months ago.

You’ll need:

– wood: (2)1x4s & (1)1×2 (or size of your choice)

– small can or 2 of wood stain

– a drop cloth or old sheet when staining

– wood glue

– 2 clamps or a nail gun (depending on which you choose)

– sander or sand paper

– a drill

– screws to nail shelf to the wall

– ‘L’ brackets – the amount will depend on your shelf length

Thank y’all so much for reading, and hopefully you will enjoy a little sprinkle of home and travel in the midst of all of the fashion posts, because I would love to incorporate a little more of that this year!  Have a wonderful weekend, friends!!

~Lauren~