Gallery Wall in the Long Hallway – Part 2

Project Completed!

I finished the gallery wall in our back hallway (see Part 1) and even with my very novice skills, we’re all super happy with the result! The photo ledges/picture shelves are already filled to the brim and Hubs would like me to make more for, well, for everywhere. One thing we have plenty of, is photos!


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Here’s what I did:

Most searches of gallery walls will lead you to something described as Ten Dollar Ledges, and the instructions and suggest supply costs to make one eight-foot long shelf. (See Ana-White’s here.)

The lumber shopping list I found suggested using two 1”x4”x8’ and one 1”x2”x8’ for the ledges, which would make them project from the wall about five inches (leaving a 3.5-inch “channel” for the frames). Because our ledges would be in a hallway instead of, say, a back wall above a sofa, we were concerned that the projection might be too much. So, I swapped out the middle board for a 1”x3”.

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I assembled them as shown in the diagram using wood screws, however, I wanted to make sure everything was nice and smooth, i.e., the screw heads don’t protrude. If you’re a novice like me, you may not know how to “countersink,” but this is what I did: Drill a pilot hole using a bit that’s slightly narrower and slightly shorter than the width of the screw. Next, select a drill bit that’s slightly wider than the screw head and use it to widen top of the pilot hole. Then insert your screw and fill the remaining space with wood filler. (See this helpful wiki for more details.)

Sand, sand some more, paint and hang.

To hang mine, I located the wall studs, drilled a pilot hole through the wood and screwed the shelf to the wall studs so they would be very secure. I didn’t bother to countersink or fill the holes in the shelf, there are plenty of pictures to cover those.

As far as height, mine may be hung a tad high, but our big dog likes to hug the wall and I could see that happy tail knocking down many a photo… so a little high works for me.

Add photos and enjoy!

Here’s what I learned:

My shelves could be described as $45 Ledges. Here’s why: the gallery part of my wall is more than 16 feet long, so I needed a much longer shelf or would have had to piece the wood together. I wasn’t sure this could be done without obvious seams.

Longer shelves = longer wood = bigger prices.

S’okay! I’m still waaay ahead of the game. Four-foot Pottery Barn ledges are $55 each (for my space that cost would be multiplied by nine shelves equaling $495 plus tax and shipping). The reasonably priced IKEA ledges would have been $15 each…taking me to $135 plus tax… BUT I would’ve had to piece them together. I’m happier with my uninterrupted DIY version and cost.

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In a do-over world I might switch the 1”x3” back to a 1”x4”. I was originally concerned about the projection from the wall, bumping into the shelves, and having my pictures lean too much. I did like layering my many photos, but some of the frames were pretty thick. The wider channel would allow them to lean a little more securely, so even though I like the projection better as it is, I may have opted for the extra width…especially with an occasionally slamming door to the garage sharing the same wall (that’s often closed via gravity, versus care).

Also, be careful when choosing your lumber. My boards were stored upright so it was difficult to find 12-foot boards that didn’t bow.

Sand, sand, sand…you’ll appreciated that effort after it’s finished.

Next time I will definitely use spray paint.

I used a white satin paint and added Flowtrol to thin it out and minimize brush marks. But no matter how careful I was, the paint liked to pool at the edges of the wood. It required way more sanding than would have been necessary if I had sprayed it instead.

And, in the end….
My extremely handy dad has always told us to “keep your mistakes to yourself.” Yes, my ledges have minor flaws, but when you look at the wall, the focus is on the photos.

When I step back and look at things I’ve purchased, there are often small flaws in those as well…but you never really scrutinize things you buy, just things you make. Plus, Hubs and I promise honest assessments of each other’s home mades so they don’t look too…. well, home made. His verdict: “more shelves please.”

In our house, that’s pretty high praise! 🙂

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