Hello kids! Today I have a fun, easy build that will transform the living spaces in your home. Lofty claim, you say? Well, keep reading, doubting friend! I feel a tad silly admitting the inspiration for this build: IKEA. I have the older version of their picture ledges scattered throughout my house. Initially they were just for a photo wall in the living room, but then I put them above my son’s desk to corral school supplies, Pokémon cards, etc., and I was struck by their utility.
When thinking of solutions for the hoarder-like mess in my kids’ playroom, I realized how perfect a series of wall-high ledges would be for their books. Unfortunately, the nearest IKEA is an hour away, and I don’t have the 5 hours and copious alcohol necessary to get through the store. AHA! They are so super simple, I can build them myself in a few minutes! Thank you, brain!
Luckily, I had some spare boards in the garage, but at just a few bucks for all the lumber needed, you can certainly make the run to the home improvement store and leave relatively unscathed.
I used a 1×2 for the Front, a 1×3 for the Bottom, and a 1×4 for the Back. You can use select boards for a more polished look, but I went with the cheapie $1-ish pine furring strips. Nothing but the best for my kids!
How To Build These DIY Super Simple Ledges
1. Sand the boards. If you are using select boards, you can skip this step. Since I’m using the cheapie boards and little hands will be touching them, I chose to sand a bit just to smooth the rough parts.
2. Paint or stain your boards and wait for them to dry. I don’t know yet what color this set will be, but I like to stain or paint first, then do touch ups once assembled and/or up on the wall. I typically use stain on furring strips since it’s more forgiving, but any color would be great. If you’d rather get right to the building, just skip this step and come back to it when you’re done. But either way, you will make your time sacrifice to the paint drying gods.
3. Cut boards to size. Make sure you measure your space first to know how long you want the ledges to be. Then cut each board (1×2, 1×3 and 1×4) to the same length. The boards are 96 inches long, so 32-inch ledges would get you 3 ledges per set, 24-inch ledges would get you 4 ledges per set, and so on.
4. Assemble the boards using pocket holes or brad nails and glue. I used a couple different assembly methods, and they all work great. On one set I used glue and a brad nailer. This is quick and easy, but you will have nail holes to fill in and touch up. On another set I used glue and pocket holes spaced every 6-8 inches or so on each long underside of the 1×3. This is a little more time consuming, but the upside is you don’t have anything to patch when you’re done. If you don’t have either tool, just use glue and nail them together.
5. Mount on the wall. For this step, I just countersunk two holes per ledge right through the 1×4 Back into the wall. Try to get into at least one stud, and use a wall anchor for the other mounting hole. For the spacing, I used the very scientific method of grabbing the nearest tall book. That kept the spacing uniform and created less math and measuring for me. Win-win.
That’s it! They are rock solid and can hold a good amount of weight (but not actual children)! And the best part: once they’re up, you can’t even tell the minor imperfections in the cheapie wood. Or where I skimped on filling in nail holes. #lazymomlife
Some tips: If you know where your ledges will be placed, you can place the pocket holes either on the top or bottom of the Bottom 1×3 board to hide the holes. For example, for the ledges that were close to the ground, I put the pocket holes facing the ground where they would never be seen. For the top ledges, I placed the pocket holes on the top of the 1×3 where they would be covered by books and the visible underside would have a clean look.
If you need deeper ledges, just use a 1×4 Bottom in place of the 1×3. Use the ledges for books, toys, pictures, school supplies, or even as a makeshift nightstand. I keep one floating around the garage to use as an iPad/phone holder and even a drying rack for build pieces that have wet paint. The possibilities are endless!
Have fun with this easy but fun and useful build. What will your DIY wooden ledges hold?