Ask the Designer: What is the secret to displaying family photos?

What is the secret to displaying family photos?  I didn’t know there was a secret.  There are some snooty designers who believe that family photos should be relegated to private areas of the home but I say hrrrrmph!  Family photos, along with family heirlooms, souvenirs collected during travels and other personal items are what makes your home different from the home down the street.  They are your personal calling card and I say display them with abandon–well, maybe not abandon but certainly display them.  Here are a few suggestions:

Create a gallery wall:  If you read any home magazines or blogs then you are familiar with this probably over-used method of displaying family photos.  It involves hanging pictures in a gallery style to cover an entire wall.  The most popular choice is to choose all black or white frames but I really like the look of gallery walls in mismatched frames and mixed up with other artwork.  My own gallery wall incorporates the letter “H” in various forms tucked among the black and white frames along with “bling” frames to add light and sparkle.  But there is no right or wrong—create a wall that pleases you.  Designer tip: Tape paper bag templates of your frames on the wall to  create a pleasing arrangement before you being nailing–I promise it will save you lots of grief in the long run.  And frames do not have to be expensive.  Check out sources like Ikea, Target, Home Goods, thrift stores and even Etsy for more unique choices.

Gallery wall in grid pattern by Tobi Fairley

Gallery wall in grid pattern by Tobi Fairley

Mix and match gallery wall by Emily Henderson

Mix and match gallery wall by Emily Henderson

Table top display:  I have used this idea quite often in client’s homes as well as in my own home.  If you think about it, a table top really is a boring surface in your home that will most likely support a vase of flowers, books or a well-orchestrated arrangement of items. But for those tables that receive a lot of use it is better to have a clear surface to make room for the remotes, glasses, of both the wine and eye type, magazines etc.  So to mask that boring and unattractive table top I have a piece of clear glass cut to fit and slide photos underneath the glass to create a collage effect.  It is easy to do and the photos can easily be switched out as the kids grow, the seasons change or you just want to focus on a particular child, vacation etc. for a while.

A group is better than one:  A grouping of photos of various sizes is a traditional way of displaying pictures on top of an entryway table or chest, on top of a piano or on a bookshelf. Gather a selection of frame sizes in whatever finish you  like, all silver, for example, or a particular style or color, and group them together for effect.  Designer tip: As you may have heard, an odd number is more pleasing to the eye than an even number of items.

Switch them up:  I just arranged a group of Halloween frames with pics of my delicious grandbabies in all of their Halloween finery over the past 4 years.  I enjoy not only looking at the old photos and seeing how much they have grown but I also enjoy the colorful frames that help put me in the mood for the holiday.  You can do the same thing with first day of school photos, family vacation photos, certainly Christmas.  When the season is over just re-place your original photos.  You may be surprised at how new and fresh they look after their short “vacation”.

photo display by DH Design

photo display by DH Design

Family photos are the ultimate home accessory and add a sense of history and a soul to your home.  So, whether you display formal photographs, I-phone snapshots or old Polaroids, give them a place of honor in every room in your home.

About hayniedi

What about me? In a nutshell I am a middle-aged interior designer and freelance writer, mother of an amazing 27 year old daughter, wife to my semi-retired lawyer husband and step-grandma to two delicious babies. From my earliest memories I have been fascinated with interior decorating and love to share my passion for beautiful rooms with anyone who will listen. Join me on this blog as my husband and I enter our empty nest years and move back into the first home we bought when we were first married that has been a rental for the past 15 years. I will share our experience with remodeling as well as other ideas and thoughts that I hope will inspire you.
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