19 Picture Ledge Ideas to Shake up the Way You Use Your Walls

wooden shelves with artwork above desk
Photo: Edmund Barr

Few wall decor options compare to picture ledges. Picture ledges are an effortlessly creative and stylish addition to any space and a simple way to create a striking focal point. Wall decor that allows for constant evolution, picture ledges have a unique balance of versatility and flexibility. With picture ledges as a base, you can rearrange and switch up the composition of your wall art at any time—without punching endless holes into the wall—and experiment with a range of 2D and 3D art pieces and prized possessions.

Ready to bring picture ledges into your home? Read on for 20 smart ideas for applying picture ledges—and arranging art on them—in any space.

01 of 19

Experiment with Color Contrast

white shelves with artwork on dark wall
Werner Straube

Create drama and dynamism through color contrast. In this dining room, white picture ledges cut through the black walls to display a series of white-framed abstract prints. The white-on-black contrast makes the artwork pop and enlivens the dark interior. The prints' common color palette makes for a unified display. For decor bonus points, extract colors from the artwork and echo them with accessories, like cushions, rugs, and lampshades.

02 of 19

Create an Open-Shelf Library

shelving for books in child's bedroom
Edmund Barr

Who said photo ledges can only hold paintings and prints? This picture ledge idea proves that these shelves make great home libraries, especially for a kid's bedroom or playroom. For a sleek look, install a series of ledges of the same width in a vertical, bookshelf-like structure, the same distance apart. The shallow shelves mean the books are displayed with the cover visible, resulting in a cool decorative feature and making reading a readily accessible and appealing activity for little ones.

03 of 19

Design a Feature Wall

music room wood shelves piano plants
Annie Schlechter

Inject a room with your unique personality with a picture ledge feature wall. In this home, three long ledges span the entire width of the room for you, telling a clear story through a display of personal objects. Here, a mix of prints, paintings, family photos, sculptures, vases, plants, books, trinkets, and musical instruments complement the eclectic style of the room. Multiple objects, like these, look best displayed in small clusters of odd numbers in a seemingly disordered and random, yet balanced, arrangement.

04 of 19

Fill in Awkward Spaces

sitting area next to window
Nathan Schroder

The best thing about picture ledges is that there's no limit to where they can be mounted. They come in all sizes to fit into even the most awkward of spaces, like this reading nook under the eaves. In this room, the shelves flank the window, drawing the eye to the back of the room and establishing a focal point complemented by a couple of stylish chairs and a wooden table. Perhaps the smartest picture ledge idea here? Mount the ledges at a lower level in a reading nook to keep books and magazines within arm's reach.

05 of 19

Organize Your Craft Supplies

wall storage with craft supplies
Brie Williams

Take your creativity to the next level by giving your arts and crafts station a decorative and functional wall feature. In this artist's studio, the tools are artfully displayed above the desk on a pale pink backdrop, with a small picture ledge to store blank canvases ready for use. Both practical and aesthetically pleasing, this setup maximizes vertical space and frees up valuable square footage.

06 of 19

Make a Focal Point in Your Living Room

white shelves with photos above sofa
John Merkl

Feel like something is missing in your living room? It's probably some eye-catching wall art. In this living room, the picture ledges create a striking focal point, transforming a collection of small art pieces and ornaments into a cohesive whole. This is a great way to display all of your treasured items without cluttering surface areas. If you decide to create a focal point above the sofa, mount the ledge above head height to ensure your decor doesn't impede comfort.

07 of 19

Give Your Bathroom a Refresh

Sypsie Designs

Freshen up your bathroom decor with a photo ledge wall. In this bathroom, a range of artwork has been carefully curated to complement the soothing grey color scheme and serene aesthetic. A layered compilation of different-size prints and frame styles adds texture and depth to the space.

08 of 19

Curate an Extra-Large Display

shelves in living room with TV and artwork
Dylan Chandler

When it comes to decorating a wall with picture ledges, a good rule to stand by is the bigger the wall, the bigger the picture ledge. In this living room, two long picture ledges span the length of the wall, with enough space between them for large items to be displayed, including a flat-screen TV that is nicely disguised amongst the display of oversized framed

09 of 19

Match the Color Scheme

music room piano black rug frames artwork
Carson Downing

You can use picture ledges to better match wall art to a room's color scheme, as in this black and white living room. The black picture ledge paired with the sleek black-framed prints perfectly complements the room's monochrome decor for a sophisticated, modern look. The unexpected burst of blue in the prints adds depth and makes the gallery wall pop.

10 of 19

Create Additional Kitchen Storage

wooden shelf in kitchen
Joyelle West

Looking for a way to inject some character into your kitchen? Picture ledges make a great alternative (or addition) to open shelving for displaying your best crockery and artwork, as they are slimmer and fit perfectly over even a narrow kitchen counter. In this kitchen, a picture ledge fulfills a dual function, displaying both decor and kitchen implements. The bar underneath, paired with some S hooks, is perfect for hanging measuring cups and kitchen towels.

11 of 19

Use Matching Picture Frames for a Classic Look

white shelves with family photos
Jay Wilde

If you prefer orderly, uniform, and classic decor, follow the lead of this chic wall display. The matching wooden picture frames are grouped in threes, with three size varieties, arranged neatly on picture ledges that blend into the white wall. The photos on the ledges display family photos printed in color and framed with crisp white borders. The result is a deeply satisfying and cohesive look.

12 of 19

Opt for a Wainscot Wall with a Picture Ledge

white desk near window
Scott Little

Add some architectural interest to your home office with a wainscot wall with a picture ledge. Here, bright yellow paneling adds texture, depth, and vitality to the room, while the thick upper ledge provides optimum space for displaying family photos and artwork. This small personal touch creates an inspiring and motivating environment that can be enjoyed day-in, day-out.

13 of 19

Decorate with Houseplants

black shelf with plants and photos
Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Liven up your display by introducing houseplants. Create visual interest by selecting a mixture of plants of varying sizes, shapes, and forms, with some plants that grow upward and others that trail down the shelf. In this display, plants have been mixed in amongst leafy prints and sentimental pieces. The black walls and ledges create a seamless gallery wall that accentuates the vibrancy of the green leaves and contrasts the sharp golden accents.

14 of 19

Look for Picture Ledges in Other Furniture Pieces

large mudroom with geometric floor
Nathan Schroder

Picture ledges don't have to just consist of slim shelving units. Look around your home, and you will be sure to find lots of spare ledges on which to display artwork, like this built-in mudroom organizer. A couple of prints and a plant add a finishing decorative touch to this piece of functional hallway furniture. Just make sure that the shelf has a lip, to prevent prints, vases, and trinkets from sliding off the edge.

15 of 19

Style a Picture Ledge Headboard

ledge shelf decor overhead bed
Brie Williams

Forget about tufted headboards and opt for a picture ledge laden with your favorite accent pieces instead. (Just be sure to mount it high enough that you don't bang your head when sitting up in bed.) In this bedroom, the discrete, slim shelf fits neatly above the bed, providing a versatile canvas for pictures, plants, mirrors, or pretty trinkets that can be switched up as and when needed. For small bedrooms that don't have space for a nightstand, as in this one, a picture ledge can also serve as a place to put your glasses, phone, or a small reading light.

16 of 19

Create a Cozy Corner

sitting area next to wall shelves
Nathan Schroder

Unexpected attention to detail in even the smallest crevices is what gives a home its unique charm, as demonstrated by this cozy corner. Here, small ledges make the most of every inch of wall space to display a carefully curated selection of objects and artwork. The paintings have a common country scape theme that accentuates the green color scheme and complements the country cottage aesthetic.

17 of 19

Turn the Picture Ledge into a Design Feature

shelf with decor on pink wall
Carson Downing

Most picture ledges are designed to look inconspicuous and blend in with the wall. But what if the ledge could be a design feature itself? This shiny gold ledge catches the eye of passers-by and adds a glamorous touch to the space. To try this photo ledge idea at home, pick a color or finish that matches the other accents in the room and create an interesting composition by placing the largest object off-center and balancing it out with small trinkets and framed pieces.

18 of 19

Pick a Large Statement Piece

white shelf with floral artwork above bed
Jay Wilde

Fill the empty space above your bed with a single large statement art piece. In this bedroom, a large painting of a rose is perched on the edge of the wainscot directly above the bed, serving as a focal point and setting the scene for the space. The rosy pink shade and floral subject matter of the artwork are echoed in the throw pillow, bedspread, and fresh bedside bouquet, tying the elegant scheme together.

19 of 19

Reinvent the Picture Rail

shelf with artwork above bed
Jean Allsopp

Give an old-fashioned picture rail a modern spin by resting artwork on its ledge, as opposed to hanging off it. This is a great solution for rooms with low ceilings that have a limited wall hanging space, like this bedroom. By painting the ledge the same color as the walls, the ledge blends into the architecture and the artwork appears to be floating. For a cohesive look, use frames that match the room's color scheme.

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