Black and White Photo Ledges

You all got a little preview of the project I’m sharing today in my last post. The shelf that our lovely cross-stitch art was sitting on is one of a pair of photo ledges Stephen and I recently built for our dining room!

B&W Ledges Heardmont

We previously had a collage of black & white photos hanging on this wall, but lately I’d been pinning photos like this one as inspiration for a mini dining room redo.

{no original source, via Pinterest}

I just love the look of oversized photos leaning on skinny ledges, and with the help of my handy hubby, we got the look for next to nothing.  Here’s how it went down.

First we stopped by Lowe’s for supplies.  Since we were making two ledges, we picked up two 1x4x8 and two 1x2x8 pine boards and two pieces of crystal white 8′ lattice (it’s only about 1/4″ thick and 1-1/4″ tall).

Ledge Boards Wall Board Trim Board

Lumber set us back just over $30, and we already had everything else we needed at the house.  First Stephen ran a bead of wood glue down the 1×4 on what would be the back edge of the ledge.

Gluing Ledges

Then we clamped on a 1×2 and slowly adjusted the alignment down its length until both boards matched up perfectly.  That 1×2 is what we eventually attached to the wall later on.

Ledge Clamped

After waiting a few hours for the glue to dry, we repeated the process on the second ledge. We weren’t sure we wanted the ledges to be the full 8 feet long, so after the glue was dry we brought them in and decided 7 feet looked right.  Stephen cut them down to size and I primed and painted each ledge with trim paint.

The next night we were ready to hang them.  First we decided where we wanted the bottom of the lower ledge to hit on the wall.  A few inches above the back of our dining room chairs seemed about right, and Stephen hammered a brace onto the wall using one nail.

Determining Ledge Height

Then I held the ledge steady on the brace while Stephen made sure it was level and hammered in a second brace near the other end of the ledge.

Leveling Ledge

It was all hands on deck for the next step: drilling a pilot hole through the ledge into the stud on one end, securing it with a drywall screw and then repeating the process on the other end.  Once the ledge was secure, here’s how it looked.

Attaching First Ledge

We repeated those steps for the upper ledge and then carefully removed the braces. Guess who was lucky enough to patch and paint those nail holes the next day?  This girl!

Removing Braces

You may have noticed we didn’t attach the front trim piece (that keeps the pictures from sliding off the ledge) when we built the ledges.  We thought it may have been a little too delicate to attach before securing the ledges to the wall.

Once the ledges were up, we marked each trim piece to the correct length.

Measuring Trim

This trim was thin enough that it could be cut by hand, so Stephen used a small saw to do the job.  Coincidentally, the scrap piece left over when we cut the ledges down to size made a perfect template to hold the trim and cut the end square.

Cutting Trim

I was on my own when it came time to attach the trim, so I brought in reinforcements in the form of painters tape. Before gluing and nailing the trim in place, I stuck a strip of tape at each end of the ledge.

Prepping for Trim Glue

Then I ran a bead of glue down the front face of the ledge…

Gluing Trim

… quickly taped the piece of trim in place on one end and smoothed it down the length of the ledge to tape it on the other end.

Trim Glued and Taped

Thin trim requires short nails. I used 5/8″ brads in our nail gun and placed one every 18″ or so along the front of the ledge.

5/8" Brads

Make sure you aim low enough so the nail doesn’t pop up through your shelf board!

Nailing Trim

After nailing the trim in place, I peeled off the painters tape and gave each end one more nail for good measure.

Trim Nailed

Next up – spackling!  I like to use DAP Fast N’ Final Lightweight Spackling.  Just spread it on, wait a few minutes, and lightly sand any lumps smooth.

Patching Holes

After spackling, I gave the trim pieces and screws a quick coat with our trim paint and the ledges were done.

Ledges Painted

Ledges Complete

It was so hard to wait until the next day to load them up! We went with a mix of new and old family photos, snapshots from our travels, and a few art pieces (like my Wilco cross-stitch). The color scheme really helps to unify our mishmash of memories.

B&W Ledges

Here’s a glimpse at the ledges from the side.  I love that they have such a minimal profile, and as a bonus, I’m not constantly straightening the frames like I did when they hung on the wall!

Photo Ledges from Side

We’ve actually done a lot to our dining room ove the past few weeks, and these ledges were the icing on the cake. I catch myself stealing glances at them every time I head to the kitchen, and I love just sitting at the table and staring at them.

I guess that means our project was a success!

Black and White Photos in Dining

So what do you think? Is it time to build your own set of photo ledges?

B&W Ledges Heardmont

Linking up to the Pinterest Challenge with Megan (The Remodeled Life), Katie (Bower Power), Sherry (Young House Love) and Michelle (Decor and the Dog). Special thanks to these ladies for helping to get my bootie in gear on this project. We couldn’t be happier with the results!


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