How To Tastefully Lean Art Against the Wall

When done properly, leaning art or photographs against the wall is functional and beautiful. How should you do it?

Displaying your gorgeous artwork can often become a challenge if you live in an open concept home or have limited wall space throughout the house. Whether your art comes from a well-known painter or a thrift store, it’s important to display it properly. 

Art is about invoking emotion within and connecting to you through an authentic, often unexplainable feeling. While the art itself is most important, it’s still necessary to take time before choosing where and how to display the painting or photo. 

How you display the art can make a huge difference in how you and your guests perceive it. Sometimes, leaning the frames against the wall could be the best option for displaying your favorite paintings or photographs. 

When done incorrectly, it can seem like a lazy or unattached approach to displaying your masterpieces, but when done correctly and planned out accordingly, it can make a huge impact on your home and emotions. 

White wooden cabinet against a white wall with some decor pieces


One of the greatest advantages of leaning your artwork is less damage to your walls. Hanging heavy frames often requires several holes in the wall for hardware strong enough to withstand the weight of the frame. Leaning the frames won’t require any holes in the wall, and you won’t have to worry about finding the correct hardware for each specific frame. 

Another key advantage is having the freedom to switch and rearrange your favorite pieces as much as you’d like. Your paintings and photos won’t get tied down to one specific location, which means you can move them to a different room or wall as often as you’d like.  

The added freedom and ability to keep your walls damage-free are great advantages that could change your perspective on displaying your favorite paintings and photographs. Depending on the lighting around the house, another benefit that you’ll discover is less of a glare on the glass. Leaning artwork that’s secure behind a glass frame will have less of a glare from bright overhead lights, making them easier to look at and admire. 

Art frames and pictures sitting on the floor against the wall
A pink flower painting leaning against a white wall on top of a white cabinet

Things To Be Careful Of 

Before fully committing, you’ll want to consider a few things that might make it difficult to lean your beloved artwork against the wall. If you have children and pets, it might be best to only lean frames on shelves out of reach to avoid any accidents. 

If you have frames on short console tables or the floor, they might get knocked over on accident, leading to a frame shattering or children getting hurt. If you have some cuties running around, try to only use this technique in places like on the mantle or on thick shelves to avoid these accidents. 

Also, consider your interior design style. This technique can come off as a bit relaxed and casual, so it might not match the aesthetic of traditional or mid-century modern homes. Of course, you can always dress things up by using large elegant frames, which would help this technique suit any style. 

Typically speaking, if you’re interested in this technique and have the flexibility to safely implement it with pets and children, you can make it work with any style!

Hand drawn art put into a simple white frame

Tips for Leaning Art Against the Wall

The most important thing to remember when considering this technique is to consider the area around the artwork. Certain places will already have decor, which can significantly enhance the painting or photo, but it’s still important to keep the areas clutter-free. 

Using the rule of three would be great because you could add complementary colors through decor pieces and add layers to this technique.

Use the Mantle

Leaning a photo on the mantle is a great place to implement this technique and use the rule of three. It’s a great location to display your favorite paintings or photos, and it’s typically a central location, making it a great place for your most beloved masterpiece.

You can add a mirror and candlesticks to the mantle to complete this look without it feeling too crowded or overdone. The photo will stand out, and you will have the chance to add contrasting or complementary colors to help the photo or painting shine.

Using the mantle is also a great idea if you have children or pets. It’s high enough to stay out of the way during playtime, so you won’t have to worry about the frame getting knocked over on accident. 

A round mirror beside some candles and picture frames

Utilize Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are a great addition to walls around the home. Whether you have a traditional or contemporary interior style, floating shelves can help you display decor, family photos, and artwork. 

You can still utilize the rule of three when leaning your favorite painting on a floating shelf. Adding a small candle and a succulent plant, for example, could complete this look perfectly. 

Try to use items that compliment the painting or photo by bringing similar colors or textures. This will make the area look complete without crowding the floating shelf. You’ll want to use lightweight pieces like a canvas painting instead of a heavy framed photo to avoid putting too much stress on the shelves. 

A small sized portrait painting of a woman with some flowers

Consider Open Rooms 

Using wide-open rooms like a loft living room or an open concept floor plan can help you implement this technique successfully. If you have a living room with minimal furniture and decor, setting your artwork on the floor and leaning it up against the wall could be a great look. 

Try to use a layering technique by grouping four or five paintings and pictures together to create a whole space designated for your favorites. You can use photographs with similar colors or mix and match colors and sizes to keep things interesting. 

Adding a larger piece of furniture to the area, like a comfortable chair or a unique console table, can complete the look. This technique will work best in living rooms with minimal furniture and clutter to avoid it from looking lazy or unfinished. 

A white chair beside some minimalist and abstract art

Use a Desk 

If you want to incorporate this technique in an office or a bedroom, using a desk or a dresser could be a great option. You can set the painting or photo on the desk and lean it against the wall. 

It leaves you with plenty of functional space on the desk or dresser for important items, but it still prevents you from putting extra holes in the wall. You can incorporate a pop of color or use practical items like a framed monthly calendar for an office desk.

With this option, you’ll also have the freedom to rearrange or switch out the paintings as much as you want. If you like to have a fresh view in your home office, you can use different images each month to find new inspiration and motivation. 

Use other items like a pen holder to help keep lightweight canvas prints in place and prevent them from falling over on the desk!

Black picture frame with a building drawing and a pink flower
A printed calendar framed for desk display
Jessica Childres
Jessica Childres is a Georgia native and former teacher. She loves to share her skills, knowledge and passion with others. She has an ongoing interest in real estate, home decorating, and design.
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