How To Lean Art (Without It Looking Like You Forgot to Hang It)

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Sandra Rojo)

Along with looking super cool and casual, leaning art — instead of hanging it on a wall — also makes for a flexible home. You don’t have to whip out the hammer and nails every time you want to rearrange the look of your place. Folks whose art collections are growing out of control will appreciate having alternate ways to display, too. We’ve got ideas so it doesn’t just look like you’ve been too lazy to hang your art.

Power in numbers
And power in different heights. To make leaning art look intentional, cluster art (different frames, canvases and colors if you want a bohemian look, all the same frame and color palette if you want something more sleek) together and at different heights.

Lean it on a surface, combine it with a vignette
Finding a nice mid-room height table, credenza, dresser or other storage piece is an easy spot to lean art, especially when you mix in other accessories to create a vignette. Just try not to choose something too small of a scale to the piece it’s leaning on; it may look out of place and call attention to the fact that it’s not hanging.

Lean art in unexpected places
A piano’s a great spot because you don’t expect art to be there. In a window above a kitchen sink could be fun. If it’s a place you can’t physically hang a piece of art, it could be a spot that can sport some leaning art.

Make it a collection
Leaning art together on shelves just makes sense to the eyes. Especially when the art is similarly sized and styled, it seems more like a lovely art gallery wall. And though you’ll have to hang the shelves, you’ll still achieve flexibility, being able to rearrange art along the shelves to fit your room’s mood. Intersperse accessories in between the art to really create a casual sophisticated look.

Make it huge
We’ve talked about oversize art before, and with reason. When you have the guts to go really bold and oversize, you can pretty much do anything you’d like. Same goes with a large piece of art that you’re leaning. Not only will it save you the headache of figuring out how to hang a heavy, cumbersome art piece on the wall, but you can either leave it on the floor to add some art at eye level, or heft it up high on a table or mantel to really wow.

What do you think about leaning art? How do you pull it off so that it doesn’t look like you just forgot to hang it?