I've wanted to do a gallery wall of family photos for the longest time. I have a whole Pinterest board filled with inspiration, but the idea of committing to a design and nailing all those holes in the wall made me cringe. I knew I wanted the flexibility to change things up, so picture ledges were the perfect solution!
The upstairs hallway at our townhouse is long and wide, the perfect spot for a gallery wall.
Kevin got a jump start by marking off the studs along the wall.
We were making two ledges and I wanted them as long as possible. We purchased two 1 x 4's, two 1 x 3's and two 1 x 1's and we were careful to pick the straightest boards possible. They were all ten feet long, the longest boards we could find at Lowes. I gave all the boards a light sanding before we began putting them together.
We also purchased two packs of wood screws and a pack of finishing nails.
The construction of the ledges was pretty simple.
We attached the back boards (1 x 4's) with a bead of wood glue and the 2 inch screws every 10 inches.
The front boards (1 x 1's) were attached with a bead of glue and the finishing nails every 6 inches. We tapped the nails in and filled the holes with putty before painting for a nice finished look.
I primed, then painted the ledges with two coats of Sherwin Williams Pure White, the same color as all the trim in the house.
*I've seen plans for photo ledges using 1 x 4's for both the back board and the bottom board. At one point, that's exactly what we had in our cart at Lowes. But the longer I stood there and thought about it, that just seemed too big. I wanted to be able to layer the frames, but not have the ledges stick out from the wall any more than necessary. I think this size works really well. I am so glad we went with the 1 x 3's for the bottom board.
I purchased some really inexpensive frames from Michaels. To start out I'm using all black frames with off-white mats for a uniform look. I may mix in other frames later, but this was a good starting point.
I cut out some craft paper in the sizes of the frames to get an idea on the spacing for the ledges.
We decided the lower ledge would be 32 inches from the floor and the higher ledge would be 57 inches from the floor.
The ledges were then screwed into the studs (through the back boards, every 16 inches) using the 3 inch screws. We did not recess the screws as they will be covered by photos, but I did dab a bit of white paint on each screw head. I couldn't wait to prop up some frames. Even with a wall of sunflowers, I was totally thrilled with the results!
This gallery wall has a very specific theme. Our townhouse is in our college town - a place very near and dear to our hearts. Kevin and I met at Penn State in the fall of our senior year, 37 years ago. We fell in love with each other and this place all at the same time. We've been coming back ever since and both of our children are now Penn State grads too. This summer, the weekend that we build these picture ledges, Baby Clare made her first trip to Penn State.
Maybe one day she'll be a Nittany Lion too!
I've barely made a dent in sorting through 37 years of photos.
This will definitely be a work in progress. And that's why the picture ledges are so perfect!
There have been tailgates and whiteouts, bowl trips and graduations, cheers and tears, love and laughter shared with family and friends!
These family photos tell a very special part of our life story!