Art Rails in Your Kitchen

By Steven V. Philips –

Here at fabulous Chez-Philips you probably expect that we have “people” to do things, knowing the male resident’s genius for directing. But alas, “people” would be the humble husband homeowner delegated to improve things around here.

Reclining in the hammock, this “people” recently got to thinking about the goofy trend of kitchens loosing their upper cabinets. Why this trend? More wall space for those overpriced back-splashes? What else to do with these new blank walls?

Unable to focus properly on this conundrum, I rolled over in my hammock and got onto a new topic as to why our kids are lucky enough traveled extensively while I’m still cleaning leaves out of gutters in my dotage. Rome, the Caribbean, Hanoi, and so on. But do photos of the Trevi Fountain, wide beaches or Colonial French architecture ever show in our emails? N-o is the correct answer. Do these beautiful photos ever get enlarged, printed and framed for home decor? They should be.

Now, go back to the newly available space on those kitchen walls. Think, hey, a photography art gallery here. Possibly photographs of meals you prepared or places you’ve been. Great veggie photos or original paintings or collections of heirloom plates you bought on vacation.

How to physically display them and maybe rotate the art show? Picture rails are the answer. You mount two or several of these rails on a kitchen wall and instantly you’ve got space for a kitchen art gallery. One rail version is about an inch and a half wide shelf with molding under, thus supporting it to give some horizontal mass. Or the rails could be heavier in scale. The rails could be wood, metal, acrylic, whatever. But, I’ve mostly seen wooden rails.

Picture rails look good anywhere. Why not the kitchen? Try frames of various sizes, colors and contents. Layer then for a really cool installation. Or select a monochrome scheme and use the same frame shape for all. Get creative.

You can custom craft your own picture rails, but it’s easier and just as inexpensive to browse the aisles of Pottery Barn, Target or some big box stores. You can also buy them online.

You can custom craft your own picture rails.

But,  if you want to make your own thus showing some creativity, you could craft them with molding found at any lumber yard. Use one-inch wide pine lath for the horizontal. For the supporting molding, make sure it’s consistent with your home’s trim. Glue those two beauties together for rigidity and mass. Install more than one rail. Vary the lengths. Paint or stain.

If you have just a single rail, where does it hang? The center of what sits on it should be at eye level. Not the shelf itself at eve level. If two shelves, average them out. If 27 shelves, send me airfare and I’ll do it to ease your pain.

Don’t fear using 8” x10” or 11” x 14” photos/prints. Or even a bit larger. And don’t limit yourself to paintings or photos. Plates, framed old maps, platters, framed menus from famous restaurants. You’ll definitely need more than one rail. If you need specifics on the physical way to hang them, send a self addressed envelope with $300 in unmarked bills for the details. I typically don’t roll out of this hammock for less.

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9 thoughts on “Art Rails in Your Kitchen”

  1. Elmer N Columbus

    Alton Brown may have cooking and baking covered but you Mr. Philips have the rest of the world. Interesting perspective on kitchen art but even more interesting is your journey of thought! Always enjoy your daft creativity and cunning conjecture!


  2. I love picture rails. There aren’t any in our home, but I think you have inspired me to get out of my hammock and start brightening up our home with a variety of pictures. Your idea of using them in the kitchen…outstanding ! Thanks Mr Phillips.

  3. As much as I love the idea of sending unmarked bills to Chez-Philips I think IKEA will have what I need. Creative use of space once again!
    I do have some nice wooden shelves on a bedroom wall. Fun way to rotate photos without having to make more wholes in the walls.

  4. I followed your directions and built my own rails this weekend. Piece of cake, and really inexpensive. I have one final coat of paint to go, then the picture rotation will begin. Very timely, as I was about to put 20 random nails in the wall and destroy it forever.

  5. I actually fill the windowsills with pictures but thin, pretty shelving is a much superior idea. And I have the perfect spot. Thanks Mr. “P”.

  6. This must have been one of SVP’s nightmares while hammock swinging. I’ve already got a enough dust collectors in my cave. But it’s an idea?

  7. What is it that feeds this bottomless pit of ideas ??? My Frau and I decided after a careful count, verified by Price Waterhouse, that we have more pictures and treasures from our travels than we have dishes. Thus the decision was easily arrived at. With picks and shovels we removed the cabinets and Voila….We have a gallery !!! I attacked this project with so much gusto and excitement my Frau commented that I was exhibiting too much levity. I finished the project with solemn dogged determination. I had some old finger paint wooden crates laying around and ran them through the saw to create the shelves which still have the manufacturers trademarks showing. Gives it a rather rustic appearance. Great ideas as always. Keep em coming !!!

  8. Mr. Phillips has covered such a wide range of topics over these many months. Will he be able to continue under the stress of a editor, that demands and commands the very best of a hard working staff? I do enjoy all his coverage of subjects pertaining to kitchens and surrounding areas.

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