The Art to Layering Art

Hanging artwork is a sure way to make a house feel like a home. It’s also one of the easiest ways to add personality and dimension to your space since it’s often the main source of color and/or pattern in the room. However, art also seems to be the most intimidating accessory to add since it tends to feel permanent and seems to come with a lot of unknown rules. One way to combat this fear is to layer your artwork over each other or atop other wall decor (i.e. mirrors—our personal favorite form of wall decor, after artwork itself of course). Before you go about layering all your art, there are a few things to consider and avoid.

The Art of Layering Art | Alice Lane Interior Design | Photo by Lindsay Salazar

As a general rule of thumb—never repeat the same medium over each other. For example, an abstract oil painting pairs well with a loose figure sketch that has a lot of white space. This contrast creates a “humble with a grand” moment and avoids any competition that may happen between the two pieces.

Another thing to consider is the scale of each piece. Avoid layering the same size of artwork—not only does this block the actual art but the uniform sizes can start to look too cluttered (or, in the words of Jess Bennett, “like a garage sale”). Make sure you have one large scale piece (your grand) and a smaller piece (your humble) to create balance and create a curated, rather than cluttered, look.

This trick of layering art works REALLY well on mantels—specifically when layered with a mirror. We almost always lean something smaller in front if we hang a mirror over the mantel. Without it that extra layer, it can feel a little bare and just like layering art with art, it adds additional interest to your mantel and really pulls everything together. Similar rules apply when layering a mirror + art, especially scale. Don’t pair artwork that is the same size as your mirror and break up lines by using a starburst or circular mirror with your square/rectangular art. You can still use a rectangular mirror over the mantel but we recommend pairing it with a more organic shape (i.e. greenery or sculptural accessories).

If you’re wanting to add depth and interest to your home, start by layering artwork. If you’re not sure where to start when buying art—use the surrounding colors to draw inspiration. Our favorite way to source art is to start with artwork that has meaning to you. This could be art you found on your travels, something that reminds you of a special moment or an original piece you saved up for. Whatever the source, if it’s something you really love, it’ll find a place in your home.