Picture Ledge Shelves

It’s January so it must be home improvement month. Well all right not necessarily, but it is, in The Mad House at least, the month in which the list of jobs has managed to co-ordinate with the freetime of the builder/carpenter. So here he is. The hall is full of tool boxes and planks of wood. I am sitting here with the doors wide open as he keeps going in and out to the electric saw, the cat has gone off in a huff and tomorrow (by which I mean today as you read this) the house is being used for a location shoot which, by the time you read this, will have involved a lot of late night cleaning by yours truly.

picture ledge shelves home office

No I’m not quite sure why I didn’t wait till next week either. I expect because that would have been the end of January and nothing would have been done so we decided to strike while the carpenter was hot. As it were. That may be an entirely different story. I think I might change paragraphs now.


So what are we doing? Well (be quiet at the back, I am not going to discuss the hotness of my carpenter) shelving is the first thing. To be specific, we have just bought a new sofa bed for the spare room. It has only taken about four years to find the right one. And, I will confess since no-one has actually slept on it yet, that we bought it entirely for its looks and price rather than testing out its comfort values. I know, shoot me. I expect Mother will have a few words to say next time she comes though.

via Found on

Anyway, the sofa bed is grey and L-shaped. And perfect for all four of us to sit and watch a film. Or for three of us to spend an hour arguing about which film to watch while No 2 son quietly watches The Simpsons and then for all four of us to then decide it’s too late for a film anyway so three of us go off in separate directions and No 2 son continues quietly watching The Simpsons until it’s way past his bedtime. It’s comfy enough for that at least.

Found on

I have been meaning to have shelves in that room for ages. When it’s not a spareroom/kids TV room, it doubles up as an office but I don’t work in there because there’s no storage. So we decided to put two picture ledges up running along two walls to sort of mirror the L-shape of the sofa. We were originally going to have standard shelves that were wide enough for box files but decided that would bring the room in too much so we went for narrow ledges as we never get round to hanging picture on hooks. I have also just specified these for a client so clearly they are quite the thing for 2015.


The shelves, after much deliberation, are 14cm wide  – enough for a DVD, and also deep enough to prop up a selection of pictures, hold a box file facing out (when I eventually buy them they will be white and black and go with the black and white picture frames) as well as a few magazines facing outwards and the odd ornament or anything else that I can’t quite find a home for. You could make them slightly narrower and fill a wall in hall or narrow space as in the picture above.

ribba picture ledge from ikea
ribba picture ledge from ikea

You can buy these shelves readymade from Ikea if you like. They’re called Ribba and cost less than £8 for 115cm long. They come in black and white. Ours are wood and will be painted in wimborne white to match the wall. Well the intention is to paint them. We said we would do that ourselves to save a bit of money and the danger is that I will start putting things on them to see how they look and in five years time they will still be in their natural wooden state. Still, at least that will look better than MDF. And now I’m thinking I should paint them downpipe to match the other wall and the sofa….

ikea ribba picture ledge

I’ll show you a picture when they’re finished. And I’ll make you a deal. If they’re not painted by the end of February I’ll show them to you anyway. Perhaps the deadline will force the brush into my hand…

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Hi Kate – great blog and website – and excellent pictures. Thank you for sharing.
    I love your use of the picture ledges. I have been trying to find some un-painted ones for ages as I want to paint them the same colour as my walls. Where did you source them please?

    1. Hi Charlotte, I got my builder to make mine, it was very easy. At least it looked quite easy! That’s probably the best bet if you want to match them to the walls and also you can make sure they run the whole length of the wall which bought ones probably won’t as they won’t be the right lengths. XK

  2. I love how you are putting the shelves up on two walls to complement the L-shape of the sofa. I really like your idea of painting them downpipe to also coordinate/tie-in to other elements in the room.

    I’ve pretty much decided to get an Ikea Lack shelf rather than the Ribba picture ledge to go above my living room sofa because it comes in 190 cm length, which will work nicely off-center flush to the left and leaving about 40 cm of bare wall at the right. It’s 26cm deep but I’m hoping painting it the same color as the wall will make it appear shallower. I like the look of floating shelves and the ability to change-out the art easily.

    Looking forward to seeing yours!

  3. I’m so glad I found your website! Your writing style is so relaxed and enjoyable. It almost feels like a friend chatting.

    I have a blank space above my sofa and after seeing this page I’ve decided to buy the Ribba picture ledges to display some artwork. I almost bought a large canvas but I love this idea so much more!

    1. Oh how exciting. I’m sure they will look great. If you decide to get the canvas too you can always prop it on the shelf too and then move it around put other things as it takes your fancy….

  4. I read your latest posting over breakfast each morning. So enjoy both your light-hearted notes and the design eye candy; it sets me to dreaming. In fact, more than that! Just rearranged all the rooms in my house, de-cluttered etc. You inspired me to do it!! Thank you.

    1. Gosh what a lovely message to read. I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. Comments like that are what it’s all about. Thank you and I’m so glad you have found useful information here. Thank YOU!

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