How to Decorate an Above the Door Ledge

The rooms in my house are in three different stages.  If you visit me, you will find 1) the rooms I have “finished” decorating; 2) the rooms I’m in the process of decorating; 3) and the rooms that still look like I just threw some random crap in there so they wouldn’t be empty.  Yes, my house is just like most of yours.   I take a section at a time and do what I love and what I can afford.  One day, I guess it may all be finished, but that will just mean it’s time to start the whole process over again.

One of those “random crap” spaces is the architectural ledge above my front door.   Most newer homes that I go into these days have these sort of ledges over the front door and random art niches in odd places.  I swear that builders are doing this to try to add character to a character-less home. Y’all, I can say that because we I one of these homes.

The very existence of the giant ledge above my front door wears me out.  When I say giant, I’m not exaggerating.  It’s 5 ft wide, 5 ft deep, 7 ft tall and a pain in my rear to decorate.  It’s too large of a space to just ignore, but too high to reach without an extension ladder…and I’m terrified to climb down once I’m up there.  So within a month or so of being in this house, I stuck a collection of fluer-de-lis and other random metal stuff up there that I got for 70% off at Hobby Lobby.  I don’t generally buy accessories like that at HL, but it was a cheap means to an end at that time.  All that stuff has sat up there for 4 years, getting dusted every once in a while when I was feeling brave enough to get up there and retrieve the dust bunnies.

Decorating ledges like this one is really a hard thing to do.  I tried to find some pretty examples of above door ledge decorating to show you, but all I came across were really bad examples.  My pictures above are definitely not great examples themselves, as I couldn’t wait to pull that random stuff down.

While I’m in the process of transforming my ledge space with something that certainly ups the crazy meter in my home, I put together 6 tips to help guide you if you have a space like this to tackle as well.

How to Decorate an Above the Door Ledge

1.  Don’t think of an above door ledge as a mantle – it’s not.  While a mantel is generally close to eye level, an above door ledge is quite high above your head.  The things that work beautifully on your seasonal mantle do not translate when placed so high.

2.  Scale is the name of the game.  You need to have one piece that is at least 2/3 as tall as your ceiling.  If you have a 7 ft tall ceiling above your ledge, you don’t want to have 4 things up there that are only a foot tall.  The scale will make your objects look dinky up there.

3.  If you wouldn’t put it elsewhere in your home, don’t put it on the ledge.  I freely admit to you that I used to have fake ivy up there stuck behind my metal stuff.  It was scary.  I took it all down when I could no longer live with looking at the fake, dusty ivy.

4.  Consider the dust.  There will likely be lots and lots of dust up there, so consider that when you are choosing what to put on your ledge.  Anything that looks gross covered in dust or is hard to dust, like a collection of baskets, should probably be avoided.  I say probably because some of you may get your ladders out to dust that stuff once a week (and kudos to you if you do!).  I just know that in my house, only the stuff that’s within easy reach gets dusted with any regularity.

5.  Don’t worry about the windows.   Many above door ledges are in front of a large window.  More often than not, there is no real “view” out of that window.  It’s simply there to provide more natural light.  Don’t feel like you can’t put something in front of the window.  Obviously, you don’t want to block it completely, but you will still get plenty of natural light in if you place an object in front of it.

6.  There’s nothing wrong with leaving it empty.  If your ledge isn’t too terribly big, simply leave it empty as an architectural feature.  That wouldn’t work for my walk-in closet sized space, but a small, simple ledge with nice trim can speak for itself.

With all of those tips, I really act like I know my stuff, don’t I?  Well, I know what I’ve seen that doesn’t work, and most of those tips were pulled from those experiences.

I am in the process of redoing my own ledge area, and it’s going to be quite a change.  It’s going to be off the chain.  Hopefully, it will be ready to reveal in the next week or so.

Do you have a big architectural ledge in your home?  How do you decorate it?

Filed Under: Decorate Your Home

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. This is something I’ve never thought of before. You did an excellent job, though.

  2. I have a ledge above my entry door too and struggle with decorating it. RIght now I have a trio of topiaries that I like, but I do not LOVE. Thanks for the tips!

  3. I DO.. I have a vintage childs peddle tractor in mine. It was a gift from my husband and reminds me of a road trip we took. I love it in this space and I would never have the room anywhere else for it.

  4. I think it would be lovely to hang an art glass piece in that space, either a 3D or flat stained glass. The light would shine and sparkle on it, depending on the location the sun could throw colors at a special time of day. If it was your taste, I could see some quirky fun things, like painting it blue and hanging a net from the ceiling and danging some “sea life” from the net..for some reason, that space makes me want to go nautical.

  5. Thanks for the post! I like to feel like I have a good decorating eye but these tips definitely helped!

  6. this is so funny you post this today. because they JUST framed out our ledge last week (which was a surprise because we did not request one at all lol) and tonight we were there and I was thinking…”well I guess I can stick some christmas garland up there during the holidays….but that’s about it”

    I think it we be an empty ledge. Mine is not as deep as yours, but it is about 5 ft wide…

  7. My sister has a ledge like this that she was having trouble decorating. She had bought a huge wooden antique looking horse that she absolutely fell in love with but couldnt find the right spot for it so I suggested her putting it up on the ledge and she loves it there. It really makes a statement when you come into her foyer and it looks really neat from looking at it coming down the stairs.

  8. oh, another place to dust! :(

  9. “If you wouldn’t put it elsewhere in your home, don’t put it on the ledge. ” The best suggestion of them all. Thanks for posting this insightful post!

  10. This is excellent advice. I have quite a large upper shelf and simply decorated it with what looked and felt right. I wish I had your advice when we purchased and collected items to decorate it. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Stephanie says:

    I have one of those in front of a staircase, I went with three large colored glass vases. I love them They are perfect

  12. Someone in my neighborhood actually has a suit of armor on their ledge. It’s awesome, and you can see it from the outside too.

  13. Not huge ledges but I have two annoying ledges in my kitchen. Architectural walls I guess you would say. I’ve been in the house for 9 years and I still struggle to decorate those crazy ledges because they seem to just call for something. I mainly decorate them for the holidays and even then it’s still trial and error. You are so right in that what would probably look good on a mantle, just doesn’t look good up there. Funny thing is I don’t even have a mantle even though I have a fireplace (instead of a mantle I have the TV niche above the fireplace). One these days I hope to finally figure out the crazy ledges or better yet just learn to let them be.

  14. Do you have pics of your updated ledge space?