I could write a love letter to my gallery wall. For four years, it has beautifully showcased whatever inspired me and allowed me to easily change out old pieces for new ones. But like many love stories, there’s a downside. The fixed layout and hanging design has limited my creativity. And that’s got me thinking about making a change to an art ledge.
An art ledge is like the gallery wall’s carefree cousin. Instead of being hung in place, frames and canvases rest on a ledge or shelf, leaning casually against the wall—and ready to be reworked whenever the mood strikes. Sounds like fun, right? Lorena Canals, founder of the Spanish home-design brand that bears her name, explains how to create an art ledge that dazzles.
Measure Shelf Placement
The main rule to keep in mind when hanging shelves is to start at eye level—about 57 inches from the floor. Stagger the height of multiple shelves about seven to 15 inches apart, depending on how tall your display items are. The lowest shelf should be about 6 to 8 inches above the furniture. That way your pieces will be perfectly visible, even when you’re sitting down.
Choose a Common Thread
A shared element—even if it’s a loose one—will make your art ledge look cohesive, Canals says. A sense of unity could come from color—say, all black-and-white photos—or shape, like using the same frame. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t have a diverse collection. Show off favorite photos, art prints, magazines, and natural treasures from your last vacation. “The more evolved your art ledge is, the more interesting it will be,” she says.
Assess Your Work
At first, you may not achieve the exact look you expected—and that’s perfectly okay. Style your ledge, and then take a step back to observe. Live with it for a day. “Sometimes taking a photo or asking a friend for an opinion will help you look at it from a different perspective,” Canals says.
Think Beyond Art
As Canals points out, art ledges aren’t just for art. Put one in your reading nook as a place to perch a cup of tea and a magazine. Hang a ledge at your child’s eye level to display her favorite books. Use one in your kitchen to park a cookbook or tablet. “There really are no rules—the options are limitless,” Canals says. And that’s why it works.