Leslie H
Leslie H
  • Hometalker
  • Huntington Beach, CA

Wainscot Wall With a Picture Ledge

5 Materials
8 Hours

If you have an open floor plan or if you're like me and have a smaller home without a lot of wall space this is great project for you. I decided to add some architectural interest in my dining room nook with a picture ledge for my collection of vintage oils, and I love the result. With or without the art work.

Before shot: plain white wall.
Before shot: plain white wall.

I'm a visual person and when I'm looking at a lot of DIY measurements and instructions I find it intimidating. Show me some pictures! I especially like to see the wood pieces of a project before they're assembled. Maybe this will help you too. Here's what I used:

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

I found the panels on the same aisle as the beadboard sheets. Here's a close-up look at the thickness of the panel--after I had cut the height down.

I decided to use common boards (inexpensive) since I would be painting them, also I had the 1X4s leftover from another project, so why not use them?

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

This is the close up of the thickness of the plywood panel. I only needed one 1/4" panel for this wall. I had the guy at Home Depot rip it for me, but I forgot about my baseboard, so I had to get out my table saw anyway. Learn from me. If you're keeping your baseboards, add the baseboard width to your calculations for the desired height of your picture ledge.

As you can see (in the top picture) my panel was not long enough, but since I was adding two 1X4s at each end, it made up for the gaps.

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

I also added two more vertical pieces ( 1X4s) in the middle, using my trusted level for everything. Before I nailed anything, I decided to add three coats of paint to the panel so all I would need to worry about was the touch ups.

Another important step. The cut-out for the electrical outlet. I needed to switch blades on my jigsaw but once I did it went smoothly.

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

Painting the panel before I added any vertical pieces made everything go so much quicker!

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

I planned on using wood glue on this panel before I shot the nails in, but I totally forgot. One of the problems with working by yourself. Oh well, luckily it was a small area and the thin panel adhered easily to the wall.

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

I also gave the 1X4s a couple coats of white paint prior to nailing them on the wall.

the ledge before i added a "lip" to it
the ledge before i added a "lip" to it

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

Here's another close-up of the finished picture rail after the lip was added. It still needed another coat of paint and caulking but you get the idea. I decided to keep the ledge at 2 1/2" wide and it works perfectly.

Cottage dining room with a picture ledge
Cottage dining room with a picture ledge

If you would like to see more pretty pictures of the finished project just go to my blog, you'll find the link below. I hope this was helpful, I'm a novice DIYer so if I can do this, you can too! Good luck.

Leslie aka Gwen Moss blog

wainscot wall with a picture ledge

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Leslie H

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 23 questions
  • Carolyn S.
    on Sep 4, 2018

    It looks great but why even use the plywood. We put the 1x4s right on the drywall. Once you paint the trim and the drywall it all looks like panels without the rough edges of the wood.

    • Elaine Sheehan
      on Sep 11, 2018

      I love the plywood. It is more authentic and gives it character. To me, the drywall would make it look cheap. You go girl! I am a visual person too and that is why I like the plywood. Don't ever let anyone talk you out of what you love. It would be a big mistake.

  • Rita Marothy
    on Sep 4, 2018

    Looks great! Good job! How do you secure the pictures you put up?

  • Virginia Long
    on Sep 12, 2018

    I was thinking about doing this project in various places in my home. I love this look and your instructions on how to do it. You did a great job and I love it. I was wondering why you didn't take the plates off the outlet so a smaller cut would not be as noticeable after you put the switch plate / outlet plate back on. I think if that was the case you would just need longer screws to be able to put the outlet cover back on. If this is not correct on my half how did you fill in the gap at the switch plate? Thank you in advance and this project is definitely on my to do list as I am very Hands-On and love doing projects around my house thank you for sharing this wonderful idea

Join the conversation

2 of 227 comments
  • Heather2229
    on Jan 11, 2019


    Thankyou for this. The work is inspired ,simple to do but adds so much interest to the room I dont know where in the old house I will do this but Iam definitely doing this ,Also the scale of the room is perfect ,Iam a huge fan.

  • Leslie H
    on Jan 12, 2019

    Thanks Heather! Sending you all my positive energy, let me know how it turns out!

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