Does this process sound familiar? You snap some great shots, book a family photo session, and fall in love with those images. You might share a few pics on Facebook or Instagram. Maybe you print out a couple of 5x7s for a small frame on a bookshelf, but that’s where everything stops. Those stunning photos, the images that perfectly capture your family’s unique bond and connection sit wasting away on your computer. That’s why I sourced some tips from the pros. If you’re wondering how to decorate with family photos, you’ve come to the right place!
Because this is such a common issue, I teamed up with a good friend (Kelly McPhail of Kelly McPhail Photography) to write this post. Kelly is sharing her favorite photo décor ideas and I’ll walk you through a recent project of mine. I had a big, blank, intimidating stairway wall that desperately needed some love. Framed family photos really livened things up, adding such warmth to the space.
I am kicking myself for waiting so long! Therefore, my goal is to save you the décor regret by providing some design inspiration.
Photos, particularly family images, are a huge part of modern life. They mark important moments and milestones. They drum up old memories and tell our family story in a way words never could. Is it any wonder we collect them by the thousands on our cell phones? However, the sheer volume of those images can paralyze us. How can we choose just one? What differentiates wall-worthy art from a candid snap? There is a method to hanging family photos – and we’re about to walk you through it with concrete examples. But first…
A family-focused gallery wall or set of prints will certainly help beautify your home, but there is a more profound reason to get those images off your computer.
Psychologists and other child development experts have found personal/family photography can help children grow their self-confidence and esteem. Experts say family photos, particularly printed images on a wall, help children view their family as a unit.
Moreover, they provide a visible reminder that they are loved and a valued member of that unit. Additionally, family photography gives children a sense of genealogy. By gazing up on the wall, they will begin to discover who they are, where they fit in, and what it is that makes their family unique.
Although we can enjoy family photos in digital form—via social media or laptop—experts say digital images don’t have the same impact on a child’s self-esteem. Why? Youngsters see the wall as a place of honor. Prominent family images in your living room, hallway, or bedrooms are a signal they are cherished. In short, they tell children those memories are worth preserving. Now, let’s dive into a few examples…
As the saying goes, go big or go home! Just kidding… I don’t want you to go home—but seriously, Kelly and I can’t recommend large images enough. One of the biggest mistakes she sees people make is trying to fill a wall with photos that are too small. In contrast, oversize dimensions will transform a photo you cherish into a museum-worthy work of art. It’s by far the easiest, most streamlined way to hang professional printed family photos.
You can go with a single large image, pair two 16×20 photos side-by-side in coordinating frames, or fill an entire wall like my friend Hoang-Kim did above. She used Framebridge to customize a full gallery.
Framebridge is a great option for beginners wondering how to decorate with family photos. That’s because the company offers design consultations and allows you to upload digital images. Consequently, you can play around with various layouts until you’re satisfied. Framebridge will then deliver your finished piece right to your door, framed and fully ready to hang (you even get the nails!).
A design consultation starts at $99, but that money is applied to your order if you place it within 90 days. Side note – If you love a clean and crisp design aesthetic, you’ll really enjoy Hoang-Kim’s blog: colorandchic.com. Pop over and check out her most recent design post after you’re done here.
Families looking for a modern take on the “gallery wall” concept will love a grid layout. Think big frames and oversize matting. Or go smaller, filling the wall with more frames. A grid pattern is a great way to decorate with family photos because it injects cohesion and unity into your space. Moreover, it provides additional opportunity to tell a story with your family photos.
Remember how we talked about how tough it is to narrow down your images to one? With a photo grid, you get to have your cake and eat it too!
Go ahead and include that stellar group shot, the close up of your toddler’s chubby-cheeked grin, the romantic moment with your spouse, and your daughter’s dance among the wildflowers. You can choose four favorites or expand the concept all the way up to twelve images, like I did below.
This particular space was a tricky one, as our plaster stairwell wall is quite fragile and can’t handle traditional nails. Luckily I stumbled onto Mixtiles. The company turns your family photos into pre-framed art. It specializes in lightweight frames that stick (and re-stick) to any surface—and here’s the kicker—without nails! Yes, I’m not kidding. You won’t find an easier to install frame. If you goof, you can peel it right off. No mess, no fuss. This project was shockingly easy, especially considering how hesitant I was to tackle this area.
Have a similar zone you want to decorate with family photos?
This is not a sponsored post, but Mixtiles generously offered a discount for anchoredinelegance.com readers when the company found out I was writing about this topic. Use code: ELEGANCE10 to buy 10 Mixtiles and get 10 free.
Feeling creative? An eclectic gallery wall offers ample flexibility for customization and personalization. Gather a mix of frames, varying shapes, sizes, and levels of intricacy. While you can certainly keep your frames in a single color family (e.g. painting them all gray like above), you can achieve a more modern look by employing a mix—wood, metal finishes, and white.
The trick is finding some thread that ties it all together. Designers often use white matting to create this sense of cohesion or they may stick with black and white images. However, you don’t need to limit yourself. Color photography can be equally stunning with the right layout. Take your time. Experiment with different arrangements, making sure to step back regularly so you can view them at a distance.
Finally, you can try a floating shelf. This is another easy way to decorate with family photos and utilizes some of the same techniques as the eclectic gallery wall. To nail this look, you will need frames of different sizes and shapes (square & rectangle). You can use a similar frame finish or mix it up. The difference here is you will most likely be stacking your frames, leaning them into place up against the wall. This arrangement is particularly lovely above a sofa or office space. You can use a single floating shelf or go bold—completely filling a wall with a series of three shelves.
Hopefully this post can give your decorating a little jump start. Photo projects always feel intimidating at first, but will consistently make you smile when you finish! If you have any questions about the options featured here, drop me a note in the comments below.