DIY Gallery Wall Shelves That Even a Beginner Carpenter Could Make

DIY gallery wall shelves

Displaying family photos brings such warmth and personality to a home. I love the idea of having a gallery wall, but I also like to change and rearrange things quite often. Just ask my husband.

Gallery shelves let you change out photographs or artwork without having all those nail holes in the wall. They are perfect for filling a large blank space, such as over a couch. Theses ledges would also look gorgeous in a dining room or kitchen displaying a row of plates.

DIY gallery shelves and board and batten

Today, I’ll show you how to build gallery wall shelves like the ones we have in our hallway. If you’re just starting out with doing carpentry projects, this is perfect because you only have to make straight cuts. If you don’t have a miter saw, you can buy a miter box, such as this one:

A nail gun is not an absolute necessity for doing this project, but it’ll make all of your future DIY projects a whole-heck-of-a-lot easier. Trust me! It’s one of those things that you never realize what you’ve been missing till you buy it. After reading countless reviews, I ended up going with the Hitachi NT50AE2.

Here’s a sketch of how the shelves were put together. The top and bottom shelves were made identically.

DIY gallery shelves tutorial- Simplicity in the South

The Materials You’ll Need:

(I found everything I needed at Lowe’s Home Improvement.)

1. 4″ wide 1/2″ thick MDF strips. I used 1/2″ MDF since I already had it left over from the board and batten hallway project. Since our shelves span between the door jambs in our hallway, I didn’t want the bottom board to jut out beyond the depth of the jambs. You can use 1 x 4″ boards instead if the depth is not an issue.

2. 1 x 4″ primed finger joint pine board for the ledges that the pictures sit on. I think it is well worth paying extra for something that is already sanded and primed because all the boring prep work is already done for you.

materials needed for diy gallery shelves

3. 1 1/8″ lattice strips for the front of the ledge.

lattice wood

4. Crown moulding that runs under the top ledge. The moulding that I used is called Coronado crown and the bar code number is #7-16781-01290-2. This also pre-primed and comes in 8′ lengths for $15.00. I fell in love with this crown moulding years ago and was so happy that I found a way to use it in our home.

Total cost of building materials: $56.00 for (2) seven-foot long shelves

Tools: level, stud finder, nail gun, and miter saw. If you’re not using a nail gun, you will need to countersink the nails with a nail punch.

Other: Heavy duty construction adhesive, wood filler, sandpaper and caulk.


The How-To:

Once you have the bottom board nailed into the studs, attach the crown moulding with construction adhesive and nails. Next, run a thin bead of construction adhesive along the top of the crown moulding.

how to make gallery wall shelves

Nail in the top ledge into the bottom board.

how to make gallery wall shelves by Simplicity in the South

After that, nail the lattice strip to the front of the ledge.

Supplies for making DIY gallery shelves- by Simplicity in the South

After that, all that’s left is filling the nail holes, sanding, caulking and paint.

It took one can of spray primer and white spray paint to change all of the picture frames from black to white.

How to make gallery shelves

I love that our new gallery shelves are not only functional, but they also give our hallway architectural interest with the crown moulding.

If you’re looking for a little gallery wall inspiration, you can follow my Photography and Gallery Walls board on Pinterest.

Pinterest Gallery Wall Ideas

Make sure you check out all the projects that have gone into our hallway. Just click on these links:

Hallway Design Board

Board & Batten Hallway Reveal

Monogrammed & Decoupaged Art That Hides the Doorbell

How to Make a Decorative Vent Cover

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Home Stories A to Z
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Under the Table and Dreaming
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Cedar Hill Ranch
The DIY Showoff
Thrifty Decor Chick
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  1. I am OBSESSED with how your shelves turned out!!! They are so classy and chic!

    • It’s funny you say that because I was obsessed about how I was going to make them for about 2 weeks. First, I couldn’t find the cove moulding that I wanted to use and then I couldn’t figure out how to make both of the shelves match. It sort of came to me in the middle of the night. The things we DIYers lose sleep over!!!

      • rebecca robinson says:

        hi Tricia!

        love the shelving project – looks great! i have been hunting all over for the perfect shade of grasscloth wallpaper for our new dining room. is that what this is? grasscloth? i just love the color and the look. would you mind sharing your source? thank you so much!!

        knoxville, tn

  2. I LOVE your shelves! I know what you mean about obsessing about DIY projects. My husband gets so aggrevated with me because I can’t make a decision. I usually have to think about it a good month and even then I doubt my decision. Haha!!!

    • I can so relate! I’m good once I make a decision, but before that I’ll drive my husband so crazy, he tunes me out. Lol! And don’t even get me started on choosing a paint color!!!

  3. I love gallery walls. We aren’t very handy, so we buy the Ribba photo shelves from Ikea. You can see our latest gallery wall here:

  4. I love it, I want so much to copy this! My hall looks just like yours, same before color and floors. Thank you for the inspiration. Di

  5. Love this! So easy and makes such a huge difference! Well done!

  6. Love what you did with the hallway. It’s beautiful. I just joined your blog and hope you will join me to read about Missouri Farm Life and more.

  7. I love this project because I’m not forced to hang individual photos! It turned out beautiful! Would you mind to share this on my blog hop? I think our readers would love to see this! Thank you!

  8. Ok LOVE these!! What a transformatio n your hallway is going through! 😉 Are you in SC??

    • I’m so glad you like it! Yes, I’m in upstate SC. I remember that y’all are, too, but I can’t recall which part. There’s going to be a meeting for bloggers in the Summerville/Greenville area on the 27th of this month at another local blogger’s home if you’re nearby. Just let me know and I’ll give you the details. I’d love if you ladies could come too!

  9. I was thinking about making photo ledges. Thanks for the detailed instructions that you provided. I would love it if you would share this over at my link party.

  10. I LOVE how these turned out. I bought something similar at IKEA to display books in my son’s room, but these are much prettier (and cheaper in the end). I’m pinning this and maybe I’ll get a chance to make some later. Thanks for sharing at Monday Funday!

  11. I’ve never seen this project done with crown moulding – very creative!

  12. Lovely! Simple yet elegant.

  13. Love it!! The shelves look great and love all the accessories on them. Great job!!

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  15. Love the blog by the way. I was unable to find that coronado crown at Lowes or Home Depot? Any ideas where to find it? They have normal crown moulding but not coronado…ugh…

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  1. […] DIY Gallery Wall Shelves @ Simplicity in the South […]

  2. […] In my original plans, I wanted to build the knock-off version of Pottery Barn’s Holman Ledge using Ana White’s instructions. Instead, my husband and I built a set of picture ledges using pine boards, crown molding, and a strip of lattice wood for the front ledge. You can find the tutorial for building these gallery shelves in this link. […]

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