How to Decorate Picture Ledges

How to Decorate Picture Ledges

So we got about 2 weeks of solid spring-like temperatures and then this weekend we fast forwarded into summer with temperatures reaching 90 degrees yesterday... yikes. It's against my morals (and wallet) to turn on our AC prior to June 1st, but due to our allergies, we broke down and turned it on last night. 

With summer on the horizon (or already here), I know some people have some extra time at home over the next three months- whether that be because you're a teacher and have the summer off like me, or you have kids and arrange your vacation time with their school schedule. This is the perfect season to dedicate some time to making some decor changes in your home. 

I have a lot of friends who become so overwhelmed when it comes to decorating their walls, that they end up putting nothing up. I hear that often the reason is because they don't want to put holes in their walls when they're unsure of what they're putting up. I've always said- there's nothing a little spackle and touch-up paint can't fix (but now that I'm thinking about it, I'm sure there's a lot of things spackle can't fix). 

My rule of thumb for any room in regards to wall decor is the following: 

It has to be a mix of : art, family photos, and possibly a mirror, to keep it balanced. 

Too much art- it doesn't feel home-y, too many family photos- it begins to feel cluttered, too many mirrors- it starts to feel like a carnival fun house. So I like to have a safe mix of all three in order to strike a balance in a room. 

When it comes to photographs, I usually decorate with them either through a wall collage or picture display ledges. I covered "Tackling the Wall Collage" in a previous post which can be found here, and I included a tutorial on "How to Build Custom Picture Ledges" here.  

Picture ledges or display shelves are the perfect way to decorate with photographs if you are too worried about putting multiple nails in the wall which is often what's involved with making a wall collage. They also make it much easier to take down a frame and change a photo out- since they're just essentially leaning against the wall. 

Some examples: 

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But them the question becomes:

What size frames and mix of frames should I buy in order to get the perfect look? 

That answer truly depends on the size of your wall space and more importantly your shelves. Always measure before going to the store to purchase frames. This post will give you many different options depending upon the size of your shelves. You can adjust the patterns I included below to fit your shelves, just by swapping out larger frames for smaller sized frames. 

Here are some example configurations you can use:

Smaller length shelves up to 40 inches in length, I normally only do 3 frames. Here are some configurations:  

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Tip: If I have two shelves (one on top of the other, or staggered), I normally repeat the pattern backwards and use the configurations above shown in pictures 1+2. If I have three shelves, the third picture's configuration would normally end up being the middle shelf. 


Longer shelves Configurations: 

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FAQ's

Where do you purchase the frames? 

I find the best deals on frames at Michaels. I usually purchase the "Studio Decor Gallery Wall" frames that are double matted. They come in a large variety of different sizes and colors. My go-to color is black, but they have them available in white, grey, gold, silver, and brown. In addition online you can buy them in a black-barwood washed frame. Never pay full price for them. They go on sale every few weeks for 50% off, and if you're a teacher you can show your teacher ID for an extra 15% off. Yesterday morning they were part of the "Daily Door Buster" at 60% off. I bought 6 large frames for a client's picture ledges, and spent a total of $78, for a savings of $170. ACmoore also has great frames and the ones on my entryway stairs are from Kohls. 

Can I mix different colored frames? 

You can, but I generally like to stay with the same colored frames. If you are purchasing smaller frames from let's say HomeGoods, for a much smaller shelf, it's ok to mix-and-match frames, as long as they compliment one another. 

Can I have some frames without mattes and some frames with?

You can, but it's one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to display shelves. I like it to either be all matted or all not. Personally, I don't like the look of it mixed. 

Can I mix black and white and color pictures?

You can, but again, my preference is usually one or the other, unless you have a lot of frames- then I feel it better balances the shelves if it's mixed. 

What if I want a different sized picture in the frame and it doesn't fit the matte? 

You can always have a matte specially made to fix the frame. You can do this one of two ways: go to ACmoore (not Michaels, they want ridiculous money for this), purchase matte board and have them cut it to your frame and picture. Or you can order them online through websites like: matboard&more

How can I perfectly mix my pictures? 

This seems like a lot of work, but I make a folder on my computer of the pictures I like and narrow them down based on how many frames I have to fill. Then I like to see what configurations make my frames not look that busy. For example, you don't want a ton of group photos next to each other on one shelf, and then single or couple photos on another shelf. Therefore, I make a powerpoint file to mock the shelf and frame configuration I have, and rearrange the photos in the powerpoint document before ordering photos online. 

Where do you order the photos from? 

After I figure out which pictures I'm going to put in which frames,  I switch between ordering them Shutterfly and Snapfish.com depending on their sales and different coupon codes that can be entered. 

How did you make those faux barn beam shelves? 

I actually got the plans off a great blogger's site: Ana White. You can find her plans here: 


And viola, you have magazine-worthy, "gallery like" walls. Thanks for reading! If you liked this post feel free to comment below or share with a friend. 

:) Barbra


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