A DIY Gift of Decor: Staircase Niche Picture Ledge

This year’s reno project has been finishing off the basement. We completed my craft studio and have been working on the mancave to finish that off too. A few months ago, hubs surprised me with a gift he made for the stairway leading into the basement. Although the basement stairs have yet to be finished, he made me a picture ledge so I could display some of my photography and have something pretty to look at in the meantime!


Hubs tore off all the old drywall to start fresh and gain every inch of space he could. Here is the stairwell in progress:


On one side of the stairway, hubs built up the depth of the ledge. Below, you can see two views looking up and down the stairs. Most people would just keep the drywall flush all the way up the wall, but this way we’d gain some display space with less chance of accidentally knocking down our decor as we brush by.


Once the drywall was complete and the walls primed, we thought it would be nice to add a picture ledge so we went to browse at Ikea in anticipation of when it would be painted. Ikea had two different picture ledge configurations we liked; one with a smooth base and the other with a routed groove to hold smaller items (both examples are shown below).



However, because of the length of our wall, we would’ve had to piece together two ledges. I didn’t like the idea of having a seam in the middle and a leftover space at the end. That’s when hubs decided to surprise me with a custom-made picture ledge.

When you’re making this project, the rail can be cut to whatever length you want. Keep in mind though as you determine the depth of your rail that there will be 1/2″ of material on either side when it’s sandwiched together, so you have to take that into account when you’re determining your final measurements.

Because it was a surprise, I don’t have step-by-step pictures, but you can follow the plan shown below for inspiration. All hubs did was take 1/2″ MDF (but you could also use wood) and cut three pieces to the length of our ledge. He didn’t miter the corners like the Ikea example; he simply used butt joints. He cut the front piece about 1 1/8″ high, the bottom 2 1/2″ wide and the back about 2″ high.

Picture ledge dimensions_bof.jpg

I didn’t show the groove in the diagram above because that step is optional, but hubs ran a router along the bottom piece through the centre, then primed all the pieces. The base was sandwiched between the front and back (with the router notch face-up) and joined together by gluing and using a pin nailer to attach the pieces. Once everything was nailed, he filled and sanded all the nail holes then painted with the same colour as our wall paint so it would all blend in seamlessly.

Hubs promised me a mock-up so I’ll update this post with a picture as soon as I have it.

UPDATE: here is the mock-up as promised; hubs outdid himself and provided more than one!.   The following mock-ups show 1) the v-groove routed into the MDF, 2) how the piece will look once it’s pin-holed together and finally, 3) a shot of the painted mock-up:



In a little over a month, hubs took the stairway space from this….




Don’t you just love the masking tapes shoes to protect from drywall dust?

…. to this after it was painted. It’s already a huge improvement for such a small area, don’t you think? There’s still more transformation to come when we tackle the stairs. We’re going to work with what we have and see what we can come up with. We’ll entertain any and all suggestions in the comment area. The stairs should be a fun project!


Hubs could have made the ledge the same depth as the drywall but I like that it was set back because drywall is never perfect (even with Hub’s level 5 finish!) and any discrepancies are not noticeable this way!

The beauty of this project is that it’s cheap and you can make it any length and depth your heart desires! You also have the choice of any paint, finish or substrate you want. Whatever you can imagine is possible and it will be a unique piece in your home by the time you’re done. It’s so satisfying to  make something with your own two hands; it really doesn’t get any easier than this!

You can velcro the picture ledge in place for added security if you wish, but we just left it sitting on the drywall; the weight will keep it in place. If you don’t have a niche, like we do, you could also screw it into the wall in the traditional way.

For more inspirational decor projects check out our Bridge Lamp Makeovers:

Bridge lamp after2_bof

and Pheonix Rising:


Our most recent renovation post shows you how we knocked down a wall and opened up our space in our dining room, taking it from this…


…to this:


If you liked this project, please pin and share on Facebook. Follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather or Bloglovin’ if you’re interested in upcoming home renovation or decor posts.

And if you’re interested in crafts, be sure to follow my sister site, Birdz of a Feather craft. I’ll have a ton of fun and interesting ideas in the new year, starting with this Blue Jean Planter:


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