Where, When, and How To Use Them!

An O-o-o-o-old Idea That Is Still Amazingly Useful Today as They Can Handle Many Quirky Decorating Conundrums!

Their origins date to ancient Roman times. Temples and bibliotec's used them to hold oil lamps and incense burners. The next major reprise was in the Victorian era of the 1840's as they needed ways to pile even more hiddeous junk into each room; heavily carved oak ones, or gilded ones piled high with busts, ferns and taxidermy. In the 1870's they became popular again during the American Colonial Revival (centennial) period. Then, in the Roaring 1980's every Park Avenue apartment, Nob Hill Mansion and Georgetown Townhouse had gilded brackets used somewhere!

The shelves were supported by either rampant eagles or some architectural element (corbel's) flanking some over-the-top painting of dogs and dead rabbits, or an antique French mirror. They usually held Chinese porcelains, or the super-expensive (and fake) Mottaheddah "Hou-ou birds." Since then, they haven't gone out of style...they've just been reinterpreted over and over and over...and over...

The tone I've implied sounds as if I am going to rail against them...Nope! I want to shed some new light on them and the opportunities they offer a room.
I find them to be expensive as hell when I see them in "better" home and design stores, I'm dunno why, other than really pretty ones are hard to find... ?? Whatever...

This wall with the incorporated rococo brackets is in the "Catherine Palace"(ca. 1752) in Tsarskoye Selo, Russia (a must see if you're in St. Petersburg!) They flank both sides of the Grand Stair Hall with beautiful Japanese Imari displayed on them.


1. Enhance a mirror that's too small

2. Display a ceramic piece that brings color to the wall

3. Hold utilitarian things in a convenient spot.

4. Display a collection of art or objects

5. Add texture or relief to a wall, hallway, etc.

6. Create a focal point in a room that is without one.

7. Make an entrance more important with a vase hung above a doorway.

8. Be used to hold hurricane lamps in a room, offering a flicker of candlelight

9. Hold small plants or topiary's in a kitchen or garden room infusing the space with greenery.

10. Hold a pair of photo frames or paintings, which would lean against the wall, when the tabletop is too full.


Below is a photo of my own foyer in Florida. This was the first thing you saw when you entered my house, it's what set the tone for the entire house, so its important!
The dark Regency antique chest anchors the entire grouping, all the other pieces are secondary players. The mirror, which I believe that all foyers should have (Costco $75.) is enhanced by the two brackets on either side. On them are modern white coral-branch candlesticks (Home Goods $20) that enhance the white-on-white theme. They're "lightly" hot-glued onto the brackets so they don't wobble off.

The Photo below is Carolyn Roehm's own bedroom. Notice the lovely petite gilded brackets holding what I'm sure are priceless objet d'art. The gilded girandole mirrors on either side help enhance the whole wall ensemble.

Next, are two spaces with similar applications although they're quite different in tone; one is cozy and causal and one is rather swank-o-licious! Both work equally was well. How simple can it be....shells and coral on brackets and its lovely!

This gallery display showing the busts on simple angled brackets creates a contemporary use of brackets. They are placed randomly which creates interest.

These nubian busts below installed on these pee-in-your-pants bronze brackets are a knockout. So freekin' chic!!!

Below is the perfect example how brackets can "bulk-up" something. The ugly-ass painting is too small for this chimney breast alone, but the brackets beside and above offer weight to the painting and look great!

In my own dining room below I had this huge-ass antique Federal convex mirror and two small Tiepolo sketches. The grouping needed some additional weight, so I put the antique Chinese grisaille temple jars on the black and gilt brackets. This is all tied together as the mirror frame, picture frames, temple jars and brackets all have gold leaf. Everything in the ensemble also has a dark graphite color somewhere which also makes this feel grouping feel very sophisticated. You know I know...

Next, on my porch in Washington, DC, I used masculine, rustic teak brackets (Home Goods $20) on either side of the mirror (Home Depot $99) to hold orchids on the brick wall. The orchids gave the space a natural touch and relief from the very flat wall and mirror. (the color sucks, its all very white-white and brown).

This stunning space below is what its all about, bringing the color to the walls and using great focal objects. The Chinese export ceramics on the table are enhanced by the chargers on the wall brackets. These Chinese ceramics can be purchased at off-price stores like Tuesday Mornings. Get the deeper "denim" blue, not the light, pale blue patterned ones. The pale blue is tacky! This arrangement is very pretty indeed!

The guest bedroom below is also from Carolyn Roehm's New York apartment. The lovely delicate gilded brackets compliment the mirror and hold white figurines that are perfect with the wall covering. Remember, figurines are very feminine, most dudes wont go for it. If they do, move out.

Below is a room I did in a decorators show house in Washington years back. The theme I chose was a "weekend retreat." I used antique Beken photos of the America's Cup Races at Cowes on either side of the fireplace and a scale model of one of the contenders on the fireplace breast which sits upon a custom bracket I had made. A simple triangular bracket which was painted to match the wall, allowing the boat to be the only focus. Awesome, aint it?

Below is an easy and inexpensive way to display a collection, crafts, etc. The grid arrangement gives the room some architecture and texture (would that be architexture?). The rhythm is important with multiples like this, the dark brackets become the interest as much as the objects upon them, white boxes/brackets would make the objects more important.

This rustic style home has utilized brackets made of horns to support a pair of pictures, very nicely I might add! This is not a fancy Park Avenue place, nor is it an English Country style room, its just another way to use brackets in yet another style home. (they are hung a little high for my taste, however...dumbasses didn't ask me first).

Brackets can also be mixed in with other wall hung items as shown below with the framed fan coral. They have placed a bracket amongst the other items creating an abstract assemblage. A shell encrusted box sits atop the bracket here. It shows you there isnt just one formula for using brackets.


1. If using brackets with a larger painting or mirror in the center, the larger object should be placed at an appropriate height, usually eye-level. The brackets, including what sits on them should be hung (height-wise) exactly in the middle of the side of the larger object.

2. Brackets should be "eyeballed" about how far away from the object they're flanking. Its better to err on being closer than too far away.

3. Never, ever hang two brackets on a wall alone on a diagonal angle, you know, one off to the side but lower....that's just plain nasty.

4. Rarely does it work to place a "heavier" object on one bracket and a frailer one below.

5. If you're doing a whole wall collage of brackets, put masking tape on where you want the individual bracket to go, then step back and see how it looks.

6. If you're putting up the modern cube type brackets, measure, measure, then re-measure. One quarter inch off on one and it'll be grossly apparent.

7. Don't put up some big ass gilded bracket and then put some teeny-tiny little vase or figurine on it. And, don't put up some teeny-weenie cheap-shit bracket and place a HUGE honkin' 16th century jar on it either....that'll look really awkward. Put masculine objects on a masculine brackets, etc. Do I really need to tell you this??

8. Visually see if the bracket and object match.

9. Don't put brackets on multicolored boldly patterned wallpaper, it'll be lost regardless of what you have on it and create visual clutter.

10. Don't put brackets in a super narrow hallway where someone can bump it with their shoulder and knock off granny's Swarovski collection, she'd be pissed if the wings got broken off her crystal angels!

11. Painted brackets are fine; the less gilt the better now days. Often, I'll like them painted to match the wall with a fabulous object on it.

12. Don't pay the ridiculous prices high-end decorator shops want. I see them for thousands of dollars and it makes me nuts as I know they're made in Timbuktu, painted by 12 year olds with bleeding eyeballs. Look in Home Goods, Tuesday Mornings, Target or one of the retailers I have provided below. Some of them you'll need to have painted, but they'll be 500% less than fancy shops.

13. When displaying a plate, vase or figurine on a bracket, put a small 1" piece of florists clay or a spot of hot-glue to hold it firmly, making sure it wont slip off.

14. Always, always, always...did I say always? Use two screws or nails to hold brackets. They cannot tilt or be uneven ever as its very obvious and the object you have placed on it may fall off... duh.