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Andi’s Art Ledges (& Tips for Displaying Family Photos!)

January 27, 2020

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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

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Julia came with me to see the house that had made my heart flutter when I saw it on Zillow just the evening before. We walked into the door and this was our view. Except…of course it was empty and one wall was painted an “accent” sage green. (That was painted within three days of getting the keys.) Getting to walk through a potential house with Jules is everything you’d think it would be. Her eyes survey every angle, she thinks out loud the entire time, and brags about its potential–in short, the ultimate hype girl when you are also loving the house and need a push of encouragement. The very first idea she blurted was “Ooooo art ledges here!” Ledges. Plural. I could immediately picture it! (pun intended) We moved in late October and after covering a lot of necessities of getting ourselves set up in a new home (washer…dryer…beds…PAINT…) I knew I wanted to tackle our gallery wall before the holidays.

Here’s the thing: I’m a photographer. I have digital archives, that are even pretty organized. I document big passport trips and little park outings and have done the whole song and dance of passing my Canon off to a total stranger and giving them a mini tutorial to get that portrait in front of the Eiffel Tower. (see above) I know I don’t have to sell you on the value of photographs, but you may be surprised that I had to be sold on hanging family photos in our home. We just had never done it before. Our family’s memories were documented, but not on display. I didn’t want to go too matchy with uniform frames, (and worse when all 10 photos are from the same shoot, guys…you gotta vary it up!) and I wanted to stay away from a whole gallery wall where everyone is looking at the camera in the shot. That would just feel like an audience every time you came into our front door. I wanted to curate a wall that was full of a lot of moments that would make us happy when we look at it. I wanted to curate a wall that included those nostalgic photos that pop up on Facebook memories or the ones that are buried deep in subfolders that make you so happy when they’re found again! I didn’t want to hold back putting up framed shots of our son, even if there were two on each shelf. I also liked the idea of including original art I’ve collected over the new years, and maybe throwing some new prints into the mix. (Etsy for the win, leaving you with sources at the end here!) What it boiled down to was: family photos in black and white, art prints in color…and my frames would be gold, wood, white or black.

The picture ledges are the MOSSLANDA 45 1/4″ black ones from IKEA. You can find a similar style on Amazon, and bonus, they come in a set of 2! We put two ledges together to have them span almost the whole length of the wall. Confession: I was very hesitant on doing this. What if they don’t line up perfectly? What if it’s super obvious we put two ledges together? Do we even have a level? My dad and husband, David, got all 6 ledges up in a couple hours, with some meticulous measuring and leveling. My verdict is they really came off looking seamless and you can’t tell it’s two put together–even less once you start loading up with art!

Ok so there are some photos of people looking at the camera. From left to right: My Davids. My grandparents in a photobooth when they were dating, and boyfriend/girlfriend “us” in Puerto Vallarta. But, I think what makes them work is their size. They range from 8×10 to 4×6. I purposely made our wedding dinner photo (below) a luxe 16×20 solely for the fact that half of us aren’t looking at the camera. Just another tip to keep in your back pocket!

Of course you know of the infamous CLJ DIY Art Ledge: 3 pieces of wood, some screws, wood stain, it was a game changer post for so many people. Which would be why you’re asking yourself right now “Andi, why didn’t you just DIY the ledges?” To which I would direct you to my question above “Do we even own a level?” Look, there’s DIYers, and then there’s those of us that DIY means you make the call of who to hire. Like, you do that call yourself.

The icing on the cake was  installing our IKEA track lighting to really make our memories feel like a curated collection. You may have caught in my Stories that I felt it was a little too bright and jarring at first. I’m happy to report a dimmer was installed this week and that wall just sings now! (Ask me if we installed that dimmer ourselves.) Majority of our frames are from IKEA, Target, and the occasional TJMaxx find, but I’m leaving you with a round-up of styles and sizes across the board (at budget-friendly price points!!) that will have your curating your own gallery wall in no time!

Frame Sources:

1        2          3           4           5             6          7           8           9           10

11      12        13         14         15           16         17         18         19          20

Etsy downloadable prints I purchased for the wall:

Holding Hands

Red Dress



Andrea Bradley de Ahedo is a stylist and commercial photographer who recently moved to Idaho after living abroad in Monterrey, Mexico to be the Visual Media Producer for Chris Loves Julia. She loves foraging for unique spoons and bowls for her ever-growing prop collection, and shooting flatlays for days. She feels most at home when she is traveling with her husband and toddler son in tow. You can check her out on Instagram at @andiandreastudio.


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What do you think?

  1. Diane says:

    Can the Mosslanda ledges be cut if, say I need 1.5 ledges in length? Thank you.

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      We haven’t tried it but it looks like there are tutorials online of how to make that work!

  2. Julie says:

    I love this post. Thank you! I have had 2 of these shelves sitting in my room, not hung and wishing they were longer. I really didn’t think to put them together. I guess I will need to get back over to IKEA and get two more. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Allison says:

    How high are the ceilings? And what is the spacing between shelves? I love how this looks and showed it to my husband who is on board for our living room – just trying to figure out spacing now! Thanks!

  4. Abigail says:

    I love the “Silly Goose” print! Where is that from?

  5. Carly says:

    I love this gallery wall. So I want to do a similar one in my living room. We have the paneling similar to the bedroom you did the molding install on, how do you position stuff with the boxes?

  6. Elisa says:

    Well done. I really liked to see ledge pictures in the whole wall. I guess that could be what a certain wall in my home needs. Picture ledges are so nice with growing kids. You can always swap the pictures and add more. Nice Cards and small objects can find a nice (temporally) display there.

  7. Heather says:

    Cute! I’ve always been afraid the ikea ones won’t be able to hold enough weight for that many frames. What’s the weight limit?

  8. Bryanna Dow says:

    Lots of helpful nuggets noted! One thing that helps my family portrait framing is remembering to take photos of scenery during big memory making moments and not JUST the people experiencing the moment. Sometimes I opt to frame the scenery itself and that too serves a wonderfully delightful nostalgic memory.

    Thanks again for the great tips!

  9. Jamie Conrad says:

    Speaking of art, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC this weekend and thought of you when I saw the white walls and contrasting gray trim. It’s too good! The art looked great against it. I DMed you a picture.

  10. Venita says:

    I love it when a post teaches me the why behind things, like this post. Having the family pics in varying sizes, styles etc, but unified by all being in black and white is genius, to me. And, the obvious, but apparently not to me until I just read this, not having all pics from the same shoot and/or looking at the camera! Thanks for posting!

  11. Sandra says:

    Such an inspiring and informative post. Thank you!
    Would like to see more post from Andrea. Obviously there is talent here!!!
    One suggestion: A post on how to organize photos. I am drowning and need help!
    Thank you.

  12. Megan says:

    Please list who is writing the post at the very beginning!!

  13. lydia says:

    beautiful photos! but i’m really in love with the framed otomi prints!! all the heart eyes

    • Andrea Bradley says:

      Those were downloadable prints on Etsy! Love having a touch of Mexico in our front room.

      • Carmen says:

        Loved the post! Andi’s writing voice was fun! Side note: we are on a road trip through Mexico and we are currently driving by Monterrey on the way to Hidalgo!

  14. Brittany says:

    PLEASE – coffee table details! I’ve been looking for one just like it!!

  15. LM says:

    I love how there are several ledges stacked on top of each other on the wall! Would you please share how far apart they are? Its just so well balanced!

  16. Patricia says:

    Yes! Exactly one of the reasons I was so excited to have you join the CLJ team. More houses to style! The living room looks so cohesive now. I’ve done the ikea art ledges too in our office/guest bedroom. Mine WERE attractively styled but have gotten crammed with “just one more photo” too many times.
    It all looks wonderful.

    • Andrea Bradley says:

      Last night I added another frame, and the thought crossed my mind that this can be overdone! And very quick. I’m going to be cautious about that

      • Patricia says:

        Mine stopped being a place to feature photos and art … and more “temporary storage” that has become permanent. But you’re too good of a visual stylist to let this happen to you.

  17. Julie says:

    This is SUCH a helpful post! I really love that you shared your “formula” and considerations for choosing and combining your photos and art – it makes it super approachable.

    • Andrea Bradley says:

      I’m so happy to hear it! Curating it was a process to work through, I’m glad it all felt approachable!

  18. I love how the ledges look all together! It’s such a gorgeous set-up and you made the mix of art and photos flow so beautifully!

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