Quick and Easy Picture Shelves

by Amanda
4 Materials
1 Hour

After living in our house nearly a year, I still hadn’t hung up many pictures or decor on the walls. I kept changing my mind on what I wanted! So to suit my ever-changing ideas, I built these simple picture rails so changing pictures and art out would be super easy, without having to worry about sizes and adding new holes in the wall every time.

Best of all, this project is very inexpensive! For two 4 foot shelves, you need two 1”x4”s (8’ long), a 1”x2” (also 8’), and a handful of wood screws and finishing nails. Wood glue will add some extra stability, but is not required.

I like to layer my canvases and picture frames, so I used 1x4s, but if you want a single layer, you can use 1x3s instead.

I am writing this tutorial AFTER completing the project, so these are a couple scrap pieces I have to demonstrate. They are NOT the actual boards used.

First step- cut your boards to length. Usually the employees at the store where you purchase your lumber are happy to cut them for you if you can’t or don’t want to cut them at home. (This also helps with transporting if you have a small vehicle!)

Four foot shelves fit perfectly on the wall I was building them for, so I cut all three boards in half. Sand the boards.

To assemble, set the boards up like this on a flat surface. Use several wood screws along the back of one 1x4 into the back edge of the second 1x4. Make sure these screw heads are flush with the surrounding wood so the shelf can sit flat against the wall. Use finishing nails on the front of the 1x2. Be sure to use wood glue at both of these seams if you want to. Fill and sand holes at the front. When everything is assembled and dry, paint or stain to your liking and hang them up!

We sunk a couple screws through the back 1x4 and into the studs to make sure the shelves stayed put. I didn’t worry about painting or hiding these screws, because there will be pictures in from of them.

Decorate and enjoy! And redecorate as often as desired!

**To address several comments, yes, these are also sold at IKEA, however, it is much cheaper to make your own if you can. (IKEA’s are $9.99 for a 21” shelf, and $14.99 for a 45” shelf)**

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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 5 questions
  • Jamie Platt Erwin Jamie Platt Erwin on Sep 07, 2019

    Why wouldn’t you just use gutters ??

  • Cynthia Himes Mcknight Cynthia Himes Mcknight on Sep 07, 2019

    what are gutters?

  • Rachel Fowler Rachel Fowler on Sep 08, 2019

    I love this idea! What would you suggest for a stairwell? I have tons of portraits hanging and we’re about to paint. I’d love to use boards. I’m not worried about the landing but Do you think it would look weird on facing walls on the stairs?

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4 of 58 comments
  • Cindy Holton Cindy Holton on Sep 08, 2019

    I am thinking about doing this. I have the wood. Great job.

  • Arrow Sihcteg Arrow Sihcteg on Aug 15, 2020

    I love these! Question about your With You art- is your child in the military? Are those the states stationed in? It's beautiful! Do you have directions to create?

    Thank you, Michelle

    • See 1 previous
    • Amanda Amanda on Aug 17, 2020

      The full thing says “With you I am home”. I painted it with states we have lived in.