Ask a good interior designer what the keys are to an inviting home, and she or he will tell you it’s the personal touches that breathe life into a space. These might include the rocking chair that grandma used for a couple of generations of babies, the table your uncle built from quarter-sawn oak or the knitted sofa throw you made for Christmas. But perhaps the most personal part of a home are the photographs that tell your family’s story. They are the soul of a house. Put them on the walls, stand them on a dresser, perch them on a nightstand and suddenly the heart of the house starts beating.
The grandest and most eye-catching of all photo displays is the gallery wall. Family photos displayed en masse make a strong visual statement, far surpassing a frame flying solo or a haphazard placement of mismatched pictures. The best groupings become part of the room, as if they were part of the original architecture. Obvious locations are over a fireplace, down a staircase or hallway, over a sideboard or above a sofa. Sometimes the best places are the less obvious ones. Take advantage of odd-size spaces that would otherwise go unused such as under a staircase, between upper and lower cabinets or on the walls flanking a window seat.
Use matching frames and wide matting in neutral colors to quiet busy images. Using all color or all black-and-white photos in related subject themes will also reduce visual noise. For greater drama, group frames in differing styles—ornately carved frames next to clean modern ones or boldly painted frames mixed into a sea of black ones.
Filling a wall with closely spaced frames creates a wallpaper effect, above. A photo grouping can even be hung filling a space entirely—wall to wall, floor to ceiling. If some photos are slightly obscured, heighten their impact by pulling away a chair or the edge of drapery.
It takes little effort to cluster photo frames as an accent at a mantle, table or piano surface. A creative photo display offers a unique collage that can be arranged using purchased frames or those fabricated using a variety of materials. Display vintage tintype photos hanging from clips on a length of hardware-store chain. Or hang inexpensive, lightweight metal frames from clips attached to heavy wire looped around screws. Other ideas include lining a glass vase with photos separated by scrapbook paper or ribbon, or using decoupage or fabric transfer paper to adhere copies of photos to a variety of surfaces.
A screw driver, pliers and wire cutters are the only tools you’ll need to craft this trendy clothesline-inspired hanger, above. Loop the end of pliable heavy-gauge wire, and wrap with lightweight wire to hold in place. Keep the wrap neat and tight. Hold in place using a screw or large tack run through the loop opening. Use purchased clips to hang lightweight frames to the wire. These are a pleasing solution for personalizing a tight space, such as under cabinets or in a tiny bathroom or dorm.
Faux flowers look better with a classy vase, adorned with color copies of family photos. Adhere the photos to the inside of the vase using tape. Keep the project neat by using scrapbook paper or ribbon to hide cut marks or bare patches and to emphasize rows. Make a collection of vases to use for a rehearsal dinner, a wedding reception or a graduation gathering.
Ever wonder what to do with vintage photos or tintype photos? Pull them out and clip them to a length of hardware chain. Drape the photo chain over a mantel, an armoire or onto a couple nails on the wall.
Downsize a gallery wall to a few frames sized to fit a window seat alcove. Black-and-white photos in white frames with mats encourage the restfulness of the space while honoring family.