Our dream is to add a freestanding ethanol fireplace (pictured on the family room mood board) in front of the bamboo wall. Sometimes we have to wait longer than we like for dreams to come true. Some unexpected medical bills earlier this year have caused us to put off our dream fireplace a little longer.

Almost a year ago, we had beautiful family pictures taken in front of the turquoise doors on the Our Lady of Victory Chapel at St. Kate’s University. I think I begged our photographer to do this session for years (I LOVE turquoise doors), but she wisely suggested we wait until the boys were both walking.  We already have several smaller portraits for the session displayed in our living  room gallery wall.  We also used them on last year’s Christmas cards.

Anyway, we loved the pictures so much we ordered a large canvas print to hang above our dream fireplace. Now that the dream fireplace is on hold, I want to move forward and hang our family portrait. But without the intended fireplace below, our canvas portrait looks pretty tiny on the bamboo wall. It is not tiny at 24 x 36″, but recall the bamboo wall is 17 feet wide.

I needed to create some sort of faux mantel to display the portrait above.  I thought about adding a bookshelf between the yellow chairs, but bookshelves require styling. I do not want to spend a bunch of money on a temporary space filler. I prefer to save up money toward the dream fireplace.  Instead, I decided a simple picture ledge was the perfect solution. It would give us a place to display the canvas portrait along with some other art to give it a larger presence on the wall. Plus, DIY picture ledges are super cheap.


I followed Ana White’s tutorial to make a 6 ft picture ledge.  It was so easy and quick!  Seriously, even if you have never built anything before, you can make a picture ledge.


I painted mine white to match the trim color in the basement. The white ledge also pops off the bamboo wall.  I hung the ledge at the right height to make the center of the family portrait at eye level.  I nailed the ledge directly to the bamboo wall. When we are ready for the fireplace we can pry it off and fill the tiny nail holes.

DIY Picture Ledge

I obviously have not styled the ledge yet.  The main piece will be our family portrait, but I plan to fill up the ledge and layer in a few other pieces.  The ampersand will definitely stay.  I found it on clearance at HomeGoods.  It was on clearance because it was breaking off its chunky wood stand.  I just pried it off altogether and like it so much better without the stand.

ampersand decor

This project was so simple and quick, I have no regrets.  But if I were to make another picture ledge, I would change two things.  First, I would make the ledge deeper.  With the 1×4 at the bottom, the shelf depth is only about 3 inches.  Our gallery wrapped canvas is 2 inches thick which does not leave much wiggle room for layering, especially in front of it.  Second, I would probably make the ledge 8 ft long.  Our canvas is 36 inches wide, which covers about half the ledge.  In this case it is the focal point, so I am okay with it.  But, if you want more display space, longer is better.


This project is just the temporary fix we needed. We won’t mind looking at this shelf on our bamboo focal wall until we can someday get our dream fireplace. Meanwhile, we have an accent table DIY in the works for between the two yellow chairs.



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15 Responses to DIY Picture Ledge “Mantel”

  1. LAURA says:

    You could add an extension to your shelf, right? Then add a piece of 8 ft. trim to the front of the ledge to hide the seam, if it was noticeable. I am surprised your were not apprehensive about putting nail holes in your wall. My husband probably would have cringed but it only adds character, I would have to tell him. I Love the shelf and Portrait you will get that fireplace one day. “All good things come to those who wait,” my Mother use to say. :)

    • Jackie says:

      Laura, We face nailed all of the bamboo on the wall and filled the nail holes. The bamboo has little spots and color variation, so it is not noticeable. That gave me the confidence to nail the ledge in place.

      Good idea for expanding the shelf and just replacing the front trim!!

  2. Lisa says:

    Love it! I don’t think you’ll have a problem hiding the holes when you’re done.

  3. Lisa says:

    Love it!

  4. Sarah says:

    This is such a great temporary solution! I love the picture of you guys.

  5. Gwen says:

    This looks great. Now I don’t think ill vote navy couch anymore!!!
    You have vision and eye that goes beyond our vision!! Keep doing what you do best for even your temporary fixes do not look like temporary fillers!!

  6. Looks great! I like the white color against the wood

  7. Colleen says:

    I love how that space is evolving. It looks so modern in a great Mad Men way, although I’m not sure if that’s what you intended. Love it.

  8. Tiffany says:

    I love it!

  9. Pam Zirbel says:

    Hey girl!!!
    Fabulous family photo!!! Now, you have me looking at placement of EVERYthing!!! Like in your photo, yas are centered, almost and with JUST enough greenery on the right and well..never mind..you know! LOL I AM IN LOVE WITH YOUR YELLOW CHAIRS!!!!!! Well done!!!!! I know this blog post was for the mantel and it IS gorgeous and i will need one also later and will refer back to this…but LOVE those darn chairs!!!!!!

  10. Sarah R. says:

    I absolutely LOVE your chairs! Is there anyway you could pass on where you bought them? Thanks for the tutorial link. It’s definitely going to come in handy! :-)

    • Jackie says:

      Sarah, Thank you. They are probably the most asked about thing in my house. They are the Anson chairs from Room & Board.

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