Custom Picture Ledge made from Crown Moulding
A design feature I think looks really neat is a picture ledge that crosses an entire wall or a large part of it above a couch, sideboard or other wide piece of furniture. It is a modern and clean, sleek look but allows for plenty of flexibility in terms of organizing, reorganizing and remixing your artwork and photos. For my new cottage, I wanted to do the same and had considered buying a couple of ledges from Ikea and using them in a row, something I have done in the past for the baby room. However, a few things I don’t like about doing it that way are: 1) it is not a seamless connection and you can clearly see the ledge is made of various ledges in a row, and (2) it is never the exact size that would be ideal above a specific couch. I decided to make my own. When I was browsing the wood section of Home Depot, my eye was caught by the vast collection of crown moulding and I had a DIY AHA moment: some variations of crown moulding would make for the ideal ledge as they would have the built-in “outer ridge” which would prevent the frames from sliding off the narrow “shelf.”
About 2 hours (excluding paint drying time and including wall install)
- Crown Moulding (8 feet): $19.95 (Home Depot)
- Brackets and screws: free, but if I had not already had those it would add around $5
- Paint: free, as I used my white trim paint I had just used to paint my cottage, ensuring a perfect match with the wall and other trim. Otherwise, a very small amount of paint would likely cost around $5 (get a sample!).
Materials & Tools:
- 4 metal brackets and corresponding screws (note: it depends how long your ledge is to know how many brackets you require. For some reference, my 7.5 feet long ledge needed 4 brackets to be nice and straight on the wall and be able to support enough frames.
- a few trim nails or other very small nails (1/2”)
- Wood paint . I used a high quality trim paint from Benjamin Moore (left-over).
- Crown Moulding (desired length)
- 2 wooden shims (optional for sides, see step by step)
Step by Step:
Measure your wall. I wanted my ledge to be all along the 3-seater couch and wanted to leave a bit of space between the other corner wall and on the other side a small window. It depends entirely on your space what you want to do, but if you are putting your ledge above a couch like I did, it looks very high-end to go all the way across, so the length of couch would essentially be the length of your ledge.
Go to your hardware store (Home Depot is my DIY mothership) and browse the crown moulding for something that could work. You are looking for something relatively “flat” but with a substantial ridge on one end (to hold back your frames). You will notice that most crown mouldings will not work for this, so be patient and keep looking as you will eventually find something that can work just like I did.
At home, saw your crown moulding to the desired length and give it a good sanding with a fine sandpaper.
I decided, for my ledge, to finish the sides with a small piece of wood (wooden shim) just to make it look more finished. I had some shims left over from a project from the week before. I used the saw to cut these to size and hammered them on each side of the crown molding with a few small trim nails.
Sand again and, if you want to be perfect, fill any ridges or non-seamless connections with some wood filler and let dry prior to sanding.
Paint your ledge (likely you would need to do 2 layers).
Attach brackets, equally spaced, using small screws .
Measure and mark your wall and attach your ledge to the wall doing the 2 most outer brackets first. Ensure to measure the place of attachment for each bracket from the ceiling of your wall down. Your ledge will, because of its length, likely be drooping a bit in the middle so it is important you don’t try to wing it, but spend the time to measure a perfect horizontal attachment.
Paint the brackets the same color as your wall.
And voila, time for the most fun part: filling your ledge with pictures and art (this will also hide your brackets). Be careful not to overload your ledge with very heavy, large frames. This ledge is not a super heavy-duty ledge to support that. Use your common sense.
Design tip: for my cottage, I mixed up the sizes and textures of frames and filled them with both art and photographs. This would generally create quite the visual diversity, but the way this looked good is by keeping a common color theme in the visuals (all my art and photos were using predominantly blue color schemes) and though the colors of the frames were different, they followed my overall cottage color scheme of earth tones + blues + gold details.
Design tip 2: Mix it up for the seasons. Imagine this ledge at Christmas time when it will take me maybe an hour to replace photos for Christmas photos from previous years and substitute the art with Christmas imagery (cut from magazines or printed at home). Note: screensaver images are usually big enough to print high resolution from letter to even tabloid size.