Ten Dollar Ledges

Simple gallery ledges that can transform a blank wall into an easy to display gallery. Gallery ledges are called $10 Ledges because each 8 foot long ledge is estimated to cost approximately $10 in lumber.


Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!


A few weeks back, I was so delighted to be invited to a local MOPS group to help other moms build ledge shelves.  And I had so much fun with the simple design, I came home and transformed the blank wall in my dining room.

Creating a gallery wall was something I had always wanted to do.  But the cost was quite scary.  The ledges alone would run at $330 from Pottery Barn, and then of course, all the frames - and then getting your frames to look just so. Intimidating.

But when I discovered I could build the ledges for around $30 (that's why these are called the ten dollar ledges, they cost $10 bucks each for 8 foot long ledges), I found the courage to just try.

So I gathered up all the mismatched frames in the house and gave them a spray coat of white.  One coat to go.

And then just started arranging frames.  What do you think of my $30 gallery wall?  Needs photos, eh?  Yeah, that's the next step. And the hardest step!

Author Notes: 
Shopping List: 

For 1 8 foot long gallery ledge
2 - 1x4 @ 8 feet long
1 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long

2 inch screws
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
These ledges are customizeable to any length, but the depth is 5". Many of our readers have made these ledges with 1x6s or 1x8s as the bottom base board, and commented that the shelves were plenty sturdy.
Cut List: 

For 8 foot long frames, no cuts are necessary, although you may wish to square ends up.

Step 1: 

These frames are so easy to make! For an eight foot long ledge, all you need is two 1x4s and a 1×2. If you want a shorter ledge, I recommend lengths of 24″, 32″ and 48″. With a 24″ length, you can make 2 whole shelves from 1 1×4. With 32″ lengths, you can make three shelves out of 2 1x4s. With 48″ lengths, you can make one shelf out of a single 1×4. You will also need a 1×2.

So to make ONE of my 8 foot long shelves, you will need 2 – 1×4 (8′ length) and 1 – 1×2 (8′ length).

Step 2 Instructions: 

I didn’t even cut my boards! All I did was screw the two 1x4s together with 2″ screws (predrilled holes)

Step 3 Instructions: 

And then tacked the 1×2 on to the front with 2″ finish nails. How easy is that? Then to hang, I just screwed through the back into a stud in the wall.

And don’t stop there – how about bookshelves for your kids room, magazines in your bathroom, cookbooks in your kitchen. How about spices in your kitchen, or coffee mugs? The possibilities are really endless.

Project Type: 
Estimated Cost: 
Skill Level: 


Ahhh! This is exactly what we need! I was literally at Lowes today trying to find a solution for my homeschool room- this will be perfect, thanks :)

This project is great and is easy to do it from my point of view. Now we are redecorating our house. We change the windows and we bought new windows from Gilkey window company. After we are finishing this I will do your project too.

Wow. Wish I'd seen that a few weeks ago. I bought knockoff PB shelves for my son's room and when his brother slams the door, everything falls off. That lip on the shelf would solve my problem!

Ana, you are my hero! This is just beautiful and oh so simple.

Until I found your site, I was afraid I'd never be able to afford decorating/furnishing my home it the way I dreamed it could be. No I have hope! Keep up the great work and thanks, thanks, thanks!

Wow! Wow! Did I say WOW? THAT has to be the easiest build on record. Even with three cut fingers (had a run in with a table saw - the saw won!), I think I could still manage this. Yup! Looks like I need to head to my favorite lumber yard tomorrow. Thanks!

Dear Ana, I have been following your blog for months now and never left a comment. However....EVERY plan you post is amazing...inspiring and creative! And I could leave a "wow" comment for each one. I can't express how much I look fwd. to opening your blog every day....and how grateful I am for your generosity in sharing....and encouraging!! I Thank you thank you...!

p.s. Do you have a P.O. box to send donations??

what did you do to finish the shelves?? they look awesome!

love this entire look.. I have been wanting to do something like this in my office.
thanks so much!

Love.Love.Love these! I know what I'm going to do with my big, empty, boring family room wall! I can mix framed pics with my toddlers art they love to have on display! LOVE THESE! Thanks so much!

Would these work using a 1x2 instead of a 1x4 for the "bottom" of the shelf? I need something for my hallway and I'm not sure if by using 1x4's it would stick out too far. I love them though! So easy and look great!

Hi Kelli, it would "work" but the problem with going narrow is your books might fall forward (or picture frames). I did a demo with a 1x3 as the bottom, and it was too narrow for taller items. It would definitely work for shorter items. The 1x4 was much better though for layering photos frames and holding other collectibles.

Just last week I mounted similar ledges that I bought at IKEA. They aren't as pricey as the PB ledges but you could still save a bit when building your own.
I combined them with a clip art rail and it's the perfect combination.
I still need to take pics.

Sarah, it's simply high gloss white cabinet paint, three coats. Grace helped. The frames are horrible - need another coat but it started snowing on me outside! These are so easy and so difficult to mess up!

okay so at our place of business we have about 30 brag photos of our work but the only place I could put them was in the back and when we want to show them off we have to get them down. stupid $1 frames only have stands so I can't hang them on the wall. Just today I was trying to figure out a shallow shelf to put along the narrow hall that is our lobby. This is perfect thank you so very much.

You can donate through Paypal on her site. Look on the righthand side of the page (scroll up from here) and you'll see a link where you can make a donation. I've done it - it's easy!

I think this may be your best plan yet. It is sooo simple, no cutting required, and can be used in so many different ways: frames, narrow figurines, children's artwork or A+ schoolwork, books, magazines. This can be used as an alternative to the bunk bed shelf. You can hang it in the dining room and display plates. Since it's screwed into studs, it's super strong... how about adding cup hooks to the bottom and hang coffee cups or something from the bottom? Bravo!

ana nice work. simple and easy.

this is a great project for the popular and pine that you can find at hd. I would also prime and paint the wood before assemblying the shelves. this is much easier to get into the corners and just do some touchup.

if you plan to make a few you may want to look into a taper drill bit for the holes on the front. then you could put in a plug and sand it off and not see the screws.

i would only add to predrill holes on the shelve for the screws to go into the wall . This is after finding and laying out the studs.


haha.. sorry, i'm new to all of this! I think this will be my first project! ;)

I recently helped my husband build a shed, gate and shingled the roof! It's the first time I've really ever picked up a tool, and although scary at first, not so bad once you get the hang of it! I have been following your site for a few weeks now and have about 20 projects bookmarked.. thank you so much for all the inspiration. simply amazing.

Oh my ... I have a wall these would be perfect on for some cookbooks, and a pile of scrap lumber to play with :)

QUESTION: What is that paint color? I'm looking for a creamy pale yellow and that looks like a nice shade.

Hi ShaRee, I'm in flight right now, so I can't give you the exact measurements - but I can give you an approximation. We hung the bottom shelf at about table height - so about 30" high. Then we left enough room for the frames, about 15" between the shelves. When I get home I can give you better specs. Thanks so much for asking - I'm sure others have the same question.

Ana, I just wanted to say (again!), how much I appreciate this blog, and all of the awesome plans on it. We're currently building a house, and I can hardly wait to pretty much fill it with things I build from your site. These ledges, especially, are going to be perfect for the apartment over the garage where we'll be living while we build the house itself. (The garage is coming along nicely, but it's going to be a squeeze with the kids. Think Japanese-style living.) These ledges will allow great use of little bits of wall, while not projecting into the room, or overwhelming the space. Thanks so much!!!

The best way to pick a color is to go grab some paint chips that appeal to you, and then tape them to the wall you're wanting to paint. Since color is an abstraction, literally a function of the ambient light in a given area since color is just reflected light, it's really difficult to directly transfer a color from a photograph to your own home. Printing out the photo above and taking it to the paint display is probably your best bet. :o)

Hope this helps!

P.S.) Is there a way to download a pdf that I missed? If not, here's a PDF I made in case someone wants an easily-printable version. Ana, if you'd rather not have this here, please feel free to delete this comment, or let me know, and I'll remove access to the document.


Love you Ana! Went to Orange and bought wood today (I decided to go with 6 foot long for over my couch). I also picked up some spray paint to make my matching frames. Can't wait to knock this out! Thank you once again!!

Have been looking at our bare walls since we moved in this summer - afraid to hang anything permanent since we don't have permanent furniture.... these shelves are perfect for any furniture placement!! no centering needed! Love it! Another thing on my project list!

These are GREAT! I've been meaning to ask you, do you use a spray gun? Spray paint gets pretty expensive and there aren't as many options. I found one that attaches to the pancake compressor and uses mason jars. Makes cleanup, paint color changes, and paint storage so much easier! $40 on amazon.com. I think it's called "Critter".

Off topic comment - but I just wanted to tell you I heard you on NPR today. Great job!!!! I don't know why they didn't mention your website by name though!!!

Ana! I have been following you for a while and have even built a few things! I am addicted! Anyway, I want to build some of these for my daughters room for books and things, but I don't really want to screw them to the wall. I do want them to be able to hold ALOT!! Any suggestions?

Ana (or anyone else who is a finishing expert) - what are your tips for getting paint to lay down smoothly on wood surfaces? Do you use a brush, foam brush, roller, etc.? Any tips are very appreciated!

This is my 2nd project that I have made of yours. And this one was so easy and simple. I love it. I just need to wait for the paint to dry to hang it up. I am putting it in my craft room. It is going to hold all my paints. Thank you so much.

Hi Ana. I have been loving your blog for quite a while now. I originally found you through a reference on Woot! and have been checking it daily ever since. I am in the process of buying my first house. In fact, I just had the inspection yesterday. I am so excited about getting in there and fixing it up and making it mine. I have dreams of filling it with furniture I made myself from your plans. My dad has always done woodworking in his spare time and I always admired that and wanted to try it myself, but was too intimidated until I found your site. Maybe these shelves will be my first project for the new house.
Thanks so much for all you're doing to help us make our homes beautiful while keeping some money in our pockets. More importantly, though, for giving us the confidence to try.
Also, I wanted to let you know I happened to catch your interview on NPR last night during a late-night burger run. You did great. Please consider this positive comment #10,001.

can you make the ledge part wider? i was looking at shelved just like this that you could either lay wine bottles on or store wine glass in but i think you'd have to use more than a 1x4. any thoughts?

Malissa -
   You can make the ledge wider, BUT ... All of the weight you place on the ledge is held by the screws through the back into the ledge. The ledge will tend to pull down and away from its backboard. And eventually fall off. And there goes the wine, all over the floor.  :(

1 - Use MORE nails or screws, and glue too, to attach the bottom of the ledge.

2 - Add a small angle brace (those "L-shaped steel things) at each end and the middle, attached BELOW the ledge to reinforce the wood.
Use a taller backboard, and add a triangular brace under the ledge to support the weight.

Sheela, I'm definitely not an expert, but for paint on wood I like to use a brush, then go over it with a mini roller immediately, while the paint is still wet (I don't like brush strokes, but there are people who do). You will still be able to see the grain, though, if you use this method. I personally don't use spray because it's so messy (especially if sprayed in a breeze! ;)). But plenty of people love it. A lot of times the professionally made furniture where you see "nothing" is because it's made using MDF, which doesn't have a grain to it like wood. Good luck on your project! Eventually you'll find the finishing process that works best for you. :)

We were a few days to early to use your design, but just hung our gallery ledges last night. Every time I walk into the room I smile. My husband and I love your site and are so grateful for the fabulous and simple designs. One project at a time we are slowly putting our first home together. THANK YOU!

Thanks for the finishing tips ladies. Spray paint is definitely wonderful, but it's hard to find the exact shade you want sometimes, so I use latex in those cases. I'll keep trying different techniques until I get it just right (or at least close enough!) :)

Malissa - it should work in theory, but when I get home, I would like to do a demo and test it out first :) The wider the shelf, the more leverage = less support :( Really want to add the stemware holders too!

I am glad that I found your website. that is exactly what I have been looking for. I love to do wood working and i love pottery barn style. I found your website is very useful. I have to try to find my time to start one project at a time for my daughter.

Thank you for wonderful website. :-) I will share mine when I have done.

Do you think you could do keyhole hangers with this? With the screws in the studs, of course. I need to start keeping an eye on freecycle for picture frames :)

Thanks Ana!

I love this site! Just found it yesterday and you inspired me to start decorating my new home. I had been afraid to hang anything, didn't know what I wanted to do with the walls. My 12 year old son made the shelves for his first project, one of many! He loves doing this and had help with advice and tools from his uncle. He plans on making the Spa bench next weekend. I wish I knew how to add the image so I could show the photo of the shelves and frames he painted, I love them!

You can adjust the size all you want, but keep weight in mind when you attach it to the wall. Do some research on fasteners for different wall types and I am sure it will be great!

Malissa - I just measured my wine bottle and they are less than 4 inches across the bottom. You should be able to stand them up on the ledges. Test with some scraps before you build.

PB shows their ledges over a bar holding liquor.

Just be absolutely sure you have the back strip screwed into the studs with 3-inch wood screws, and fasten the shelf part to the back part with a screw every 4 to 6 inches.

That looks great. I built some of these to use a book display/shelves for my non readers a while back. The books face forward so it makes it easier for them to pick a book. They work awesome. I can't wait to dive in and try one of your plans. I am just having a hard time deciding which one. They are all so great :)


Ten dollar ledges? Not hardly. More like five dollar ledges. That's how much I had to invest yesterday at Orange to pick up the wood I needed to build one of these. Of course, I already have the screws, nails, glue, primer, and paint, so those are all purchases I didn't have to make. Today I'll be sanding and priming and painting, and tomorrow I'll install this ledge to display my kids artwork. I can't wait to see the pride on their faces when they see their work shown so prominently, and I'm really looking forward to clearing the front of the fridge.

You should be able to make wider shelves to hold wine bottles like in the link you posted. I would make sure to use screws to contect the 2 parts of the shelves - much stronger than nails. Also if you put sides on the shelves it should help hold the shelf together.

When you attach to the wall make sure you go into studs in the wall or use heavy duty anchors.

I was just thinking today that these, made from reclaimed pallets, would solve my lack of storage issue in the kitchen. In 2 years we plan to completely redo the kitchen (you'll have the cabinet plans up by then, right) but for now I am in desperate need of space in my TINY kitchen(less than 5ft of counter, 2 lower cabinets, 2 half deep lower cabinets, 2 half deep/half width drawers), 2 upper cabinets, 1 over fridge/over stove cabinet). I have 25 sq foot of floor space. Anyhow, there are many narrow wall spaces between windows, doorways, etc that 18-29" shelves will fit. I am thinking canned goods, cereal, pasta, spices. I am so desperate for space. If I can get the food on the walls, I can get the pots and pans out of the coat closet.

I built mine for $20 AND I had to buy a new bottle of wood glue!
Thanks Ana. I love these! It is just what I needed to fill a wall in my basement. My hubs was happy two- less holes in the wall than the picture collage I had planned!!!
I will post pics once I paint and hang them!

How high did you hang the first shelf? And how many inches between shelves? I am almost ready to stain my New bed, thanks for all you do.

Don't forget to "break" the edges by sanding to make them less fragile. I just finished 3 shelves in less than 35 min! And all from scraps from my farm house bed! Thanks for the in-between measurements. There is an awesome sanding block at the Lowe's in Canada, that you can change the sandpaper, but the spongy ones in the states work well too.

My father and I made four shelves yesterday with help from my 8 and 11 year old sons. Ours are 5'2" to fit exactly between two walls. We spent a lot of time measuring (twice) and cutting the wood by hand with a mitre box. We also spent extra time counter sinking the screws. It took us about four hours to build four shelves. Now I need to fill in the holes where we nailed the front and then prime and paint. I spent extra to get good quality wood - very straight, smooth and no knots. The wood, primer, and paint cost around 80 dollars. We never could have gotten the custom fit from a catalog. I think I spent about a quarter of the price and I have some great pictures of my sons spending time with their grandfather. We also have enough wood left over to make 2 shelves about 1'8" long. I'm so glad I found this website.

Carol. I was wondering the same thing.

I was going to buy some floating shelves for my baby's room but now I'm thinking I'm going to do this instead! Not only will I be able to put up some picture frames, but can you imagine an entire gallery of children books?!? It will look so cool....now I have to get the hubbs to show me about to work his power tools.


ana mentioned to screw the back 1 x 4 to the wall with screws. for strength, locate the studs.

I have three young kids who love books. We get over 100 books every three weeks when we hit the library. Needless to say, book storage has always been a bit of an issue. I had all sorts of ideas for storage, and decided on something almost exactly like this. Now each kid has a shelf like this running the length of their bed and there are (almost) no more books on the floor :)