Not ready to commit to a gallery wall? Here's an easy alternative

A gallery shelf is a quick and flexible option for displaying pictures and objects

gallery shelf
Credit: @melanielissackinteriors

Putting together a gallery wall can seem daunting: not only do you need a collection of interesting artworks, but you also have to assemble it in formation and hang it with precision. Enter the gallery shelf: an alternative that requires far less banging of nails and balancing of spirit levels, and allows you to change the art whenever you please.

Interiors blogger Melanie Lissack shows how effective the gallery shelf can be with this example from a corner of the upstairs landing of her home. ‘The aim was to add interest to a dead space,’ she says. ‘Picture rails like this are an alternative to traditional deep shelving in narrow areas. I use mine  to exhibit vintage art I’ve collected, but also to display little trinkets and small posies of dried flowers, which I switch around to keep it interesting.’ 

Credit: @melanielissackinteriors

Lissack cut Ikea picture rails at an angle with a mitre box and handsaw so they fit the corner. She coated them with Zinsser Bin primer, and painted them in Plaster Pink by M&L Paints to match the skirting board and nearby doors.

Designer tips:

‘To stop the rails looking too busy, I tend to keep  to a simple pink and gold palette, and I don’t mix and match frame colours.’

‘I place larger pictures towards the back and slightly overlap smaller ones or decorative pieces over the corners of them so that everything “blends”.’

‘I avoid placing artworks  of the same size and  height next to each other – I prefer a mix so that  it feels more casual.’

‘Make sure displays on multiple rails don’t reflect each other. On mine, a larger piece of art is central on the top rail, with the larger piece on the bottom rail positioned at the end.’

Where to buy frames

Lissack recommends Desenio for thin brass frames for larger pictures and Homesense for smaller frames. ‘Charity shops are great for getting a lot of frames on a budget,’ she adds. ‘I take out the old pictures and clean up the frames or spray-paint them in my desired colour.’