Why you need a gallery shelf for your photos

Move over gallery wall, there is a new kid on the block. Introducing the Gallery Shelf – a new, stylish and convenient way to display photos and art in your home without the need to measure, drill and hang endless hooks in your walls.

Now don’t get us wrong, we love ourselves a traditional gallery wall whereby your picture frames and artworks are arranged into visually appealing layout and hung directly onto the wall. This style of wall feature is classic interior design stalemate that is certainly here to stay. However, for those of us who are renting our homes, don’t fancy extensive DIY projects, or simply have too many photos to commit to just a handful of frames, the gallery shelf if a great alternative due to its practicality and flexibility.

Going by several names, the ‘gallery shelf’ (or ‘picture ledge’ or ‘photo shelf’) is quite literally a shelf that is fixed the wall, where you can creatively display pictures. Unlike its highly esteemed cousin, the gallery wall, a gallery shelf does not require your picture frames to be fixed into place on the wall by way of hooks or nails. Instead, your picture frames free stand or lean on a simple floating style shelf that is hung over a bed, down a hallway or centred on a feature wall in your home. The result is a more relaxed looks that allows you to layer more photos into a casual, overlapping arrangement.

When thinking about how to decorate walls or bring more personality into your home, it’s easy to become quickly overwhelmed. So much so, many of us end up putting nothing up at all. Whether you just don’t know how to get started, or you are hesitant about putting too many holes in your walls, we’ve put together a list of the top benefits of a gallery wall and how to make yours in just a few simple steps with minimal holes. And with a quick search of Pinterest or Instagram you’re guaranteed to feel inspired and want to jump on this interior trend asap.

Gallery shelves are easy to create

DIY projects aren’t for everyone. The great thing about a gallery shelf is that is requires far less work than a gallery wall. Once you’ve fixed your floating shelf in place, you can return that drill and tape measure back to garage, or your neighbour! From here on in you are free to place pictures frames, framed art and photo frames on the shelf without the need to drill and align hook holes. Yes please!

Gallery shelves are flexible

The other reason the gallery shelf trumps the gallery wall comes down to the flexibility they offer. With a gallery shelf it is simple to change photos on a whim. More holidays photos? No problem! Kids growing up? Not to worry. Just create a new frame for each new occasion and add it to your shelf. You can even mix your framed photos and artworks with other artifacts or add another shelf below or above as you need. The options are endless.

Gallery shelves are relaxed

Unlike a gallery wall, in which frames are often displayed in uniform lines and grids, the gallery shelf will bring a more relaxed vibe to the space. This is because the frames are shuffled in and overlap one another. You can mix landscape orientations with portraits and big frames with small fames, because eclectic is the name of the game. To tie it all together, try and work with a common colour palette or theme such as whites and timber, or monochrome.

Now that you know what a gallery shelf is, you’re probably wondering how to get started? In a few simple steps you will have a place to tastefully display those many hundred (or thousands) of digital photos stored on your phone.

Step one – Choose a wall for your gallery shelf

First up, you need to decide where you want to have your gallery shelf. When making a decision consider the type of photos you want to display and what wall space you have available. More personal photos and prints might be better suited in a bedroom, but more family-orientated photos might be a great conversation started when positioned in a more communal space like a lounge or dining room.

Step two – Purchase a floating shelf or picture ledge

Once you’ve measured up and have the dimensions you need, head online or to your local Ikea and look for a picture ledge kit. They are fairly easy to find and most come with easy-to-follow instructions. Try and choose a colour that will blend in with your space such as white or a neutral timber so they shelf itself is not the focus of the arrangement.

Step three – Hang your shelf

Once you have your picture ledge, it’s time to fix it to the wall. This is the only hard bit, we promise. Measure the length and position on the wall and ensure it is level by also measuring up from the floor (or by using a level). Then get a friend to hold the shelf tight while you drill straight into the “back” piece of your ledge using strong screws and, where possible, drilling straight into a stud.

Step four – Arrange your photos and art 

Now comes the fun part, filling your gallery shelf with framed photos that are meaningful to you, and of course, those that make you smile. Don’t agonise too much about which ones to choose as you can always add more or swap them later. If you’re feeling creative, try mixing in quotes and artworks that help express your style and passions too.

With a gallery shelf it’s never been easier to display your memories stylishly throughout your home or office. The best part about memories is most definitely making them. But there’s no doubt, reliving them is also pretty satisfying too.  Not only will a tasteful display of photos lift your mood, but it will also bring warm and personality to your home. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today! After all, you will never regret seeing your favourite people and moments proudly on display throughout your home.

Lucy is a go-getting mum who is passionate about photography and interiors. As the founder of Australian owned and operated business, Framer, she is on a mission to change the custom framing game by making it easier for people to print and frame their photos online.
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