Bedroom / Finishes and framing / Hanging pictures / Living room / Study or office

How to use family photos to decorate with style

Last week my friend Lupe asked me for some ideas for printing and framing family photos that she wants to hang in the bedroom. We did a fun photo session in the studio with her husband and one-year-old twins a couple of months ago. Now she wants to make sure that they can fully enjoy the pictures, instead of the digital photos just ending up tucked away in the computer. Inspired by this, here are a few suggestions for making your pictures part of the wall decor in your home.

1. Using multi-picture frames

Frame with matte for three pictures

Frame with matte for three pictures

Remember those multi-opening, wooden frames that were so popular in the 70s and now seem horrible? Well, there are some modern options that look great, like these from Crate and Barrel and IKEA.

TIP: Make sure to buy the frame first, then select and print the photos. It’s best to print the photos about 5mm larger than the opening in the matte. That way you can tape them behind the opening from the back without a gap showing.

This is also a great example of how using black and white prints unifies the look of diverse photos. Elegant!

picture of frame

Modern classic multi-pic frame

Try converting some of your photos to black and white. It’s easy to do with presets in iPhoto, Photoshop Elements, Picasa or many of the programs that come with your camera.

If you are a photo buff and want to give it a try in Photoshop, check out this tutorial on black and white conversion for even better results.

2. Making a poster-print of a collage created digitally.

You can make a collage with a variety of photographs and have it printed as a poster print which you then frame. Some photo printing websites like Snapfish or Photobox allow you to create your collage online. If you prefer more flexibility, there are programs available for designing collages. Have you tried one? Comments to share experiences with creating or printing collages are very welcome! If this seems too complicated and you would like me to design a custom collage for you, contact me.

TIP: Design the collage so that it will fit in a standard frame size. It’s much cheaper to buy a ready-made frame than to have one custom made for a print that has an odd size or proportion.

A custom collage with clean design

A custom collage with clean design

3. Frame pictures individually in matching frames and hang them together

This option has a ton of possibilities. Many styles and colors of frames and mattes, a variety of arrangements ranging from geometric to “cloud”, just a few large pictures, many small pictures, a mix of sizes. The great thing is that this idea can be adapted for any budget, depending mostly on the types and sizes of frames you choose. In all cases it’s important to make a detailed plan for the arrangement of the frames before starting to hang them. Sketch it out on graph paper and do a trial run laying the frames out on the floor before you start. Here are some examples for inspiration.

Neutral frames, arranged geometrically:

Keep in mind that hanging a number of frames aligned geometrically is a complicated task. Among other tools, you will need measuring tape, a calculator, a level, frames that have wires to hang them so that you can make small adjustments in height and horizontal placement on the frame without making more holes in the wall, and a good dose of patience.

Asymmetrical arrangements are easier to hang, as you can start with one frame in the middle and then hang the others around it. Here are some more great ideas on how to design the layout:

Just a few (home-made) frames with character:

Same frame, various sizes, arranged in a cloud:

Have fun coming up with your own combinations!

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