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DIY magnetic chalkboard/gallery ledge feature wall | Loft Playroom Makeover

So here we are eight months later. The playroom is a place we love to spend our time. & yet…the images have sat on my hard drive just waiting to grace the blog! So many of you have asked me about the shelves I built…so FINALLY…my fun project in pictures! We saved & saved to make this project a reality. We recycled & cut costs where we could. Much of it was brainstormed, sewed, drilled & painted by me (with wonderful helpers!) and I am so happy with the final product. Hope you find something in this space that inspires you! I’ll touch on the details in the next post, but this one is all about that gallery wall–one of my favorite places in this house!

I have always been intrigued by this wall in our playroom. It had a cutout set about four inches into the wall that just begged something custom. I finally decided that I was going to build shelves to go there & when my parents were here for the holidays I enlisted everyone’s help. We painted over the grey/green space & made it a nice & lively (but not pukey) lime green. I chose La Fonda Olive by Valspar at Lowe’s. It was inspired by the curtain fabric, which was my inspiration piece for this room. All the colors came from this fabric. Lime, cranberry, butternut squash, chocolate & a berry pink. They all wove together for this space to work.

I wanted the feature wall to have two gallery style ledges that I could use to display both images that I took & images we’ve had taken of our family. I wanted the images to be easily movable & changeable. Not too big of a cost commitment, but BIG. Below the images I wanted a wall for creativity to blossom. Chalkboard AND magnetic surfaces. So I got to work.

Instead of painting directly on our walls, I decided to get fiberboard panels (cheap, cheap–$15 total) & have them cut in four equal widths to span across the bottom of the wall. & BOY am I glad I did. The smell of the magnetic paint is so terribly toxic, that even with the garage doors shut we could still smell it in the house. I would NEVER paint that stuff on an interior wall. Only on something that we’d mount. I followed three coats of magnetic primer with two coats of chalkboard paint & we were in business!

Then my dad & I used this tutorial on the ten dollar wall ledges to build ourselves some 14 ft long shelving which goes from wall to wall. The 1x4s came in one piece, but I had to put two 1x2s together on the front of the ledge, so I bridged the gap with a little spackle. Easy peasy.

& yes…how long ago was this project?? Man, she’s grown a lot since then! & still a great helper!

After everything was good & dry, we brought it inside & began to mount. We just used drywall screws & nails to mount the fiberboard panels. The ledges were drilled into studs & mounted after the fiberboard was installed. Finally, we covered the seams with shoe board, found in the moulding section of lowes for about $1.

shoe board over fiberboard panels that are both magnetic & can be used as a chalkboard:

& view of the gallery shelves, you can see the construction details on the bottom!

& this is the final space! We spend so much time here. Most of it in the chair reading.

Now as for designing that wall of pictures…don’t let me fool you into thinking it just “came together” that way. Oh no. I made a to-scale model of the ledges in photoshop. (you know I am crazy like that) and arranged them by size & layers–paying close attention to varying heights.

Now some of these never made it to print. Some of these are canvases. Most of them are images that I had printed by the fabulous Bay Photo Lab during a buy one get one half off sale & they are prints mounted on gatorboard. They are sturdy, & thick & do not bend. Perfect! I have a couple more canvases coming (thanks to the awesome Canvas on Demand groupon) that will change this wall a bit. But overall, it’s a good idea to really play with a model of your final product before you invest a couple hundred dollars in prints! I sure am glad that I did! :) & obviously, I played some more when everything arrived…& will continue to as we add more to the print rotation!

So that is, finally, the gallery feature wall! Next up, the rest of the room details!

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  • Jessica - I love how interchangable the gallery photos can be (a necessity when you have young children), and using the gatorboard mounting, no frame! Thanks for sharing your ideas! Do you recommend using any of the protective coatings (laminates) or textures on the gatorboard when ordering? Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Sandra V. - I love the green!! I am planning out a small art area for my girls and may just use it. It’s my favorite color and well, I’m kinda tired of pink for girls.ReplyCancel

  • Karmen - I just love what you did to your home!!!! I love reading your site and looking at the pics!! Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Kristie S - Oh. so. fabulous. I love it and am totally inspired!ReplyCancel

  • Ingrid - LOVE it!! do you think a display like this would work hung on a wall?ReplyCancel

  • shari - i love this room! may i ask what flower fabric your curtains are? the whole room flows and the gallery wall just ties it all in!ReplyCancel

  • Ikea Expedit “built-in” Desk & The Turquoise Workhorse | office + guestroom [in progress] » styleberry BLOG - […] & toys–and I love to see how other people make it work. Luckily, we do have a loft playroom, but other than that–we’ve got four spaces to work with. Our room. Caroline’s […]ReplyCancel

  • Decorating with Portraits at styleberryBlog - […] My loft playroom gallery ledges were probably my biggest project to date…mostly because I actually built those ledges myself. Determined to fill a space that had the PERFECT indent for custom wall to wall ledges, I went to Lowe’s and made my ledge/magnetic chalkboard wall concept a reality. I knew I wanted something BIG and interchangeable. I wanted this gallery to grow & be mixed & matched over time. I ended up getting all mounted prints (on gatorboard) and just setting them on the ledges. I play with them often. Add. Subtract. But mostly add. It sure livens up this space! For more info on how I built the shelves, head over to the: Loft Playroom Gallery Ledges. […]ReplyCancel

  • Brandi - Hello! Love this! Where did you get the rug for the playroom?ReplyCancel

    • -shawna- - I actually just handed it off to another home, but it was from pottery barn! This space looks so different now!ReplyCancel

      • brandi - thank you! I found one on PB’s site and it’s on sale – looks very similar, thank you!!! Also, any new tips on your baby food making? I know it’s been since 2010, so I wanted to see if you’ve adapted any new tips or tricks….thanks!ReplyCancel

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