The Art of Layering

Layering is a basic, yet powerful design technique that brings multiple objects together for visual interest. Inexpensive and easy, layering adds depth and texture to any room. Use your own accessories and random items or have fun combing garage sales and thrift shops for the perfect layering objects. Then apply the following philosophies and techniques. 


You can lean nearly anything against a wall. Rather than hanging a picture, try leaning it on the floor or on top of a table. An old wooden ladder with a fresh coat of paint becomes unique shelving for small items when leaned against a wall. Lean mirrors, trays, old shutters, and/or stained-glass windows. Flat baskets add texture; old clocks add decorative interest.



A stack of books on the floor adds color and texture to a room and can serve to cover up an unsightly outlet. Baskets look great stacked up on a table or an extra chair. Decorative shoe boxes can hold toiletries—stack them on top of a dressing table and layer them in front of a mirror leaned up against the wall.

Layer by function 

Not sure what items to layer? Consider the purpose of the room. In a guest room, layer cozy throws and pillows on the bed—or even a plush bathrobe -- for a welcoming feel. Stack toiletries on the dresser or nightstand. Be sure to add a pile of magazines and/or books. In an office or library, lean decorative bulletin boards (and layer inspirational quotes and photos on them) against the wall. Stack notepads. Display a beautiful paperweight on an open dictionary. Store office items in baskets or pretty boxes and stack them on or under a desk.

Layer color

In a neutral room, consider layering color. Make a sofa pop with a bright throw or pillows. Spray paint the frames of mirrors with vivid colors and hang them together on a wall. Layer colorful rugs or create color up above with a punchy chandelier. 


Layer texture 

Texture is often forgotten, but is one of the best ways to add depth and richness to a room. Start with the walls: throw up a textured wallpaper such as grass cloth or try a painted wall effect. Add some beaded or fringed pillows. Think beyond traditional art for the walls—hang a reclaimed wood board or baskets.