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.

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:

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?

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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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 36 questions
  • Ren
    on Mar 12, 2020

    Looks great. I was wondering, why not leave the wood panels off entirely? Then, you can simply paint the trim and ledger The same color of the wall ( or not) and place them on the wall in the same configuration. Would you not have accomplished the same look without the glue, panel, and nails to hold the panels up?

    • Gabrielle Falk
      on Aug 27, 2020

      Wainscoting, looks so much better with a different style or texture. T the wall above. A friend has done wainscoting using narrow wooden boards (vertical), with a small ledge at the top. In their spare bedroom. And it looks fantastic. Painted a beautiful blue/grey with a white wall above. You can do this, or just have the same sort of wainscoting as the main wall. It all depends what you want, and what style of decorating you have. I think that Leslie H has done a wonderful job - especially for a novice do-it-yourselfer.

  • Adele Basilisco
    on Mar 12, 2020

    lm not getting the answers. Why?

  • Ann Eichenberger
    on Aug 27, 2020

    Thanks for your wonderful tip about the outlet. Does this box have a specific name?

Join the conversation

2 of 310 comments
  • Leslie H
    on Aug 27, 2020

    thanks Chris!

  • Twyla
    on Aug 28, 2020

    Another idea is to use paintable wallpaper instead of plywood. Also a little sandpaper on the edges of all the wood would give it a more professional finished look.

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