Leaning Pictures and Mirrors
(The Easy Alternative to Hanging Art)

For a faster, more profitable home sale

This leaning floor mirror brings added dimension to the room.This rustic leaning floor mirror brings added dimension to this room. Photo by overstock.com.

Leaning pictures and mirrors against walls is an informal decorating alternative to hanging them up.

For those who aren't fans of a formal look, this casual, evolving style of decorating is for you! And it's so easy, anyone can do it.

Leaning your art is also a great way to display artwork and mirrors for those who have a fear of commitment.

Leaning artwork results in a less formal, casual look that is very appealing and handy for those who love to change out their artwork often.

My mother, who is a natural born interior decorator, has been leaning pictures and mirrors against walls, windows, and other kind of ledges, as far back as I can remember, long before it became vogue. 

Whether you are redesigning your home decor or planning to do your own home staging in preparation for selling your home, the following ideas for leaning pictures and mirrors should inspire you.

Keep reading for some creative ideas on the many different decorative objects that can be used, and how to use them.

Benefits of leaning pictures and mirrors

  • It's just so darn easy!
Fireplace mantle with leaning mirrors.Mirrors add extra dimension and light to your home interior.
  • Display pictures or mirrors without the hassle of measuring or putting toggle bolts or nail holes in your walls.
  • Leaning allows you to display artwork against a brick wall or area where you can't place a nail.
  • You will never have to straighten pictures again! They will always be level.
  • This unique decorating method can easily evolve with the changing seasons.
  • Leaning a large floor mirror against the wall in a small space will make it feel larger.
  • Leaning pictures, instead of hanging them will prevent window glare from obscuring the art.
  • This easy method lends a casual, yet elegant look to your home design. If you prefer a formal look, hang your artwork instead.
  • It's so flexible! You can quickly rearrange or switch out artwork when you're ready for a change. 
  • Leaning pictures and mirrors can be used to hide unattractive things like; electrical panels, wall outlets, unsightly wiring or damaged walls.
  • This style is the ideal room decor solution for renters— there will be NO nail holes to repair when they move.

Where can I lean pictures and mirrors?

Brightly colored framed pictures add a pop of color along the top of the windowsills.Place pictures along the tops of window ledges for a pop of color!

Practically anywhere!

Leaning artwork can be used in any room; in the living room, kitchen, even a bathroom.

You can create an attractive leaning vignette on any flat surface that is place against a wall.

In the kitchen, arrange an inspiring vignette on the countertop by leaning an attractive recipe book against the backsplash and placing some cooking essentials to the front.

Add a pretty bottle of olive oil or wine, a breadboard and knife, potted herbs, etc.

Open shelving or window ledges practically beg to have something leaned on them!

Simply lean a picture, as seen in the living room photo to the right, or add layers, as pictured in the bathroom below.

Or, create a tempting reading area in a child's bedroom on top of and inside a bookcase by leaning colorful books against the back. Don't forget a few well-placed critters, like a favorite teddy bear and his friends.

Bathroom leaning pictures are united by the colors black and white.

Other leaning possibilites:

  • Fireplace mantels
  • On the floor, against a wall
  • On shelves, inside bookcases
  • Chair railings
  • On flat surfaces, like sofa tables, consoles, buffet tables
  • Windowsills
  • The top surface of an upright piano

  • Display pictures on an artist's easel. Easels are ideal for interior decorating because you can move them wherever you want.
  • I've even seen pictures leaning on back of a toilet and bathroom countertops, as seen on the right.

Personally, I wouldn't place artwork on my bathroom countertop because of possible water damage.

What kind of things can be leaned?

Lean pictures and objects, like large letters and numbers, of similar color and style to unite them.Leaning pictures and objects of similar color and style will unite them.

You aren't limited to leaning pictures and mirrors alone. Any kind of flat decorative object will look interesting if you lean it. 

Look for exciting leaning possibilities at your local antique and second-hand stores.

Spend a day wandering around a flea market, imaging what would look fun leaning on your fireplace mantle, a shelf, against a dresser mirror, even on the floor.

Here are just some decorative objects for the home that would look great:

Lean artwork or mirrors on a fireplace mantle.Fireplace mantles are the perfect place to lean your artwork and mirrors!
  • Stained glass
  • Old salvaged doors
  • Rustic or brightly painted shutters
  • Rustic iron bed frames with ornate design elements
  • Flat architectural objects
  • Serving trays, platters, flat baskets...
  • Weathered wood, reclaimed barn siding
  • Large letters, old neon numbers or letters
  • Large coffee table-sized books
  • Picture frames
  • Flat sculptural objects
  • an old gate, weathered fencing
  • old store signs
  • Framed posters
  • Paper products, like vintage greeting cards or sheet music

How to layer pictures, mirrors and objects

Layer leaning pictures and mirrors to create depth.Layer pictures and mirrors with other objects to add dimension and excitement to your home decor.

Layering pictures and mirrors by overlapping them will add dimension and whimsy to your home decor.

Overlap with a collection of your favorite objects; use a theme for a cohesive effect.

When layering, DO NOT allow acrylic canvas surfaces to touch, as they will often stick together, especially in warm weather.

Layering your leaning picture or mirror with other artwork and objects will create a casual effect, as if you just laid things down for a moment...

Experiment by incorporating some of the following room decorating ideas:

Overlap leaning artwork, so that each item is partially visible.Overlap leaning artwork, so that each item is partially visible.
  • Vary color, texture, height and shape of objects.
  • Overlap artwork slightly, so that a part of each item is visible.
  • Large heavy objects on the floor, like mirrors or shutters, look great when layered with live potted plants and sculptural decorative objects from the garden. Be sure items are in proper scale to the size of the room-- don't use small objects in your floor arrangements.
  • Group old picture frames in varying sizes, contrasting colors or frame styles.
  • Arrange items according to theme; landscapes, antique pictures, beachy items, black and white photographs, and so on.
  • A stack of attractive hardcover books, a candle base, or small box can be used to raise smaller objects.
  • For a sophisticated look, group canvases or frames in the same color palette.
  • For a bohemian look, lean artwork of varied colors and patterns and add stacks of books.

Objects that work well in layering with pictures and mirrors; dried starfish, attractive hardcover books with the jackets removed, rustic ironware, baskets, trays, plates, candles, vases, candlesticks and lamps. A lamp will add height and light to your display.

How to keep pictures and mirrors from slipping

If you live in an earthquake prone area like me, (Alaska!) you will definitely want to secure your artwork.

How to secure leaning art:

Place a thin piece of carpet grip or rubber drawer liner under leaning items on table tops to prevent them from slipping. Place it at the back of your leaning object so it won't show.

Or, place a heavy object in front of leaning pictures and mirrors. A pretty rock, (like a geode or fossil) a large candle, a stack of books, or a piece of statuary will hold things in place.

If you have a house for sale, you may not want to display personal photos. Why? Because buyers will be distracted by them, making it harder to see themselves in your home.

When I was a Realtor showing houses, it never failed... buyers always stopped to check out personal photos!

Decorating with leaning floor mirrors

A leaning floor mirror will seemingly add extra dimension to a room. Be sure to secure a heavy floor mirror to the wall.A leaning mirror will bring added dimension to any space. Be sure to attached large floor mirrors to the wall. Photo by Potter Barn.

When you decorate with a large floor mirror, (or any mirror!) you should always consider what the mirror will be reflecting. If a mirror is reflecting an air conditioner or other unattractive feature, try another area.

A good rule of thumb is to place a mirror where it’ll reflect the outdoors. This will create a feeling of spaciousness and light.

If this isn’t possible, try placing the mirror where it’ll reflect an artificial light source, like a pretty chandelier. This will scatter light around the room.

Avoid arranging with small pieces of artwork around your floor mirror. They will be lost in the overall landscape of a room.

How to secure a large leaning mirror to the wall

If you're decorating with a large mirror and have kids running around, you should be concerned about your heavy mirror falling.

The easiest way to secure a large leaning mirror is to install an L-Bar to the wall. Watch the video below to learn how easy it is!

See the video below on how to secure a leaning mirror to the wall. Video by MirrorLot of canvaslot's channel.

How to make your own floor mirror

If you've always wanted one of those popular floor mirrors but couldn't afford it, watch the DIY video below. It shows you how to make your own affordable leaning floor mirror. Video by pinksofoxy.

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Last updated 8-10-2022