Design Tips | Learn How To

How to Lean and Layer Art…And Why You Should!

Design Tips | Learn How To

Some might think that simply leaning your wall decor is just a lazy person’s way of getting out of hanging it. Wrong! Leaning and layering wall decor is a decorating trick that provides an interesting, casual look. But it takes skill so that the look comes of as intentional! Here are some expert tips to help you lean art and other wall decor like a pro!

This article will tell you the following and give examples:

  • Why to lean artwork
  • Tips for leaning artwork
  • Why layer your decor
  • Tips for layering

Why Lean Art?

There are several advantages to leaning artwork.

1. Provides Flexibility

Do you love to move stuff around your home?  Or maybe you change your mind or your decorating style quite often?  No matter the case, leaning your wall decor provides a great deal of flexibility in your design since you can easily change or move it

You also have flexibility to showcase wall decor in areas that would otherwise not be easy, such as tiled or brick walls. For example, the entryway below is narrow with a vent of the floor. Artwork can be leaned against the wall to create an interesting scene that doesn’t block the flow of traffic or air!

2. Is Damage Free

With no hammer and nail required, leaning your artwork doesn’t damage your walls. This is especially a plus if you rent! As an added bonus, you never have to worry about whether something is level!! 

3. Minimizes Glare

Sometimes overhead lights or light from windows causes a glare on artwork that can be avoided if the piece is leaning instead.

4. Gives a Cohesive Look

Leaning wall decor creates a connection with surface it is leaning on. Sometimes, it’s important to create a connection so that the decor doesn’t feel disjointed or floating.

The bulletin board below could have been hung on the wall, but then it would have look disconnected the the other artwork.  Leaning keeps it casual and connects all of the elements together.

french writing desk with bulletin board leaning on top purple flowers and lamp

5. Provides the Perfect Reflection

With mirrors in particular, it’s very important to take into account what will be reflected in them when choosing their location. No one wants to walk in and see a reflection of a hallway bathroom, right? If a reflection isn’t what you want when hanging a mirror, consider leaning it instead so that you can get the perfect angle!

In my master bedroom, I chose to lean the mirror on my nightstand so that it could reflect the chandelier.

French master bedroom with wingback bed and blue mirror leaning on nightstand
via Tidbits&Twine

6. Evokes a Casual Style

But beyond the practical, leaning is also a less formal way of display objects in your home, which lends itself to my personal favorite decorating style, Casual Elegance.  Leaning wall decor creates a casual, effortless look, regardless of how formal the actual pieces might be!

Look at this room below.  Most of the objects are very formal, but look how the second mirror is casually leaning on the mantel to help offset some of the formality!

 

Tips for Leaning Your Wall Decor

  • Leaning works with all types of wall decor, from art, to mirrors to architectural elements, like shutters or even salvaged doors.
  • Try leaning things on your mantel, sofa table, entryway table, bookshelves or for large items, even on the floor.
  • Leaning is a great option for renters since it doesn’t require anything permanent.
  • If you have a heavy object that is leaning and small kids in the home, you should consider doing a combination of leaning and wall mounted, where you attach the object to the wall at the top, with the bottom resting on a flat surface.
  • When leaning mirrors, always check what is being reflected in the mirror since the reflection essentially becomes the “art” in a mirror.
  • When leaning something on a slick surface, put something underneath the frame of the wall art to keep it from slipping.  I like to use a small piece of rubber drawer liner because it keeps the object from slipping without damaging any of the surfaces.
long table in front of window with seashells and orchids and artwork leaning
via William McClure

Why Layer Art?

1. Creates Interest

Provided you have the depth, adding in layers in front of your leaning object helps to create additional dimension and interest. 

2. Looks Intentional

Layering also helps with creating an intentional look, as once multiple items are layered in, the object in the back looks more purposeful because it’s part of a grouping.

writing desk with layered artwork leaning on it and crossback chair
Gold frames leaning on nightstands in a bedroom with white upholstered bed

Tips for Layering

  • When layering your leaning objects, always put the largest object in the back, working forward with smaller objects.
  • Also when layering, slightly overlap one object to the next so that they feel like a cohesive unit, while still ensuring that each item is still visible.
  • Don’t hesitate to mix and match shapes!
  • For a more traditional look, try using items all within the same color family or within the same tone.  For a more contemporary or eclectic look, mix things up a bit!
  • For your final layer, add a completely different object, like a candlestick, plant, jewelry box, lamp, etc.  Layering isn’t just for frames!
Graphic for an article about how to lean and layer artwork

Do you lean art in your own home?

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9 Comments

  1. Marlene Stephenson says:

    I thought it was cute and really didn’t notice the room till you said something. I love this idea because about 6mo.- a yr. I always get tied and want to change the way i have arrangements on the wall but hate to cause i have to fill the holes and start again so i love these ideas.

  2. Barbara Warner says:

    Great ideas! I use a lot of small easels to “lean” small picture frames.

  3. The picture of you layered and leaning is such a humorous way to get this particular post started! And you r so pretty, your home so
    beautiful! Looks like you use a lot of French decor which I love! Thank you for your awesome tips!!!

  4. Jennifer Berry says:

    I saw the picture of you leaning against your fireplace and instantly wanted to see your whole room!
    The space to the right of your fireplace looks to be the same as mine and I need to redo my living room.
    I need examples!

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I know! I’m remiss in photographing my living room! It used to be my least favorite room in the house and now it’s my favorite, so I really need to share it here. I’ll try to do that in the next week or so. Stay tuned! :) Kim

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