4 Steps to Decorate Your Walls with Family Photographs

Decorating with your family photography is much simpler with an experienced guide, so read on and I will walk you through the main considerations to make you a photography decorating pro.

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1.  What Spaces Need Artwork?

mudroom photography wall display
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The first question to answer is where in your home do you want to hang new artwork?  Things to consider when trying to answer this are:

  • How are your common “hero” spots for artwork: over couches and beds, in foyers and entryways,
  • Do you have any empty walls that feel blank, or walls with undersized art?
  • Do you have any art or photos currently installed that you are ready to update or replace?
  • Are there wall spaces that you find yourself looking frequently while in your home, such as across from a kitchen island or an office desk,  adjacent to where you eat or have your morning coffee, in a mudroom or space where frequently you enter or exit your home, or near where you spend time on daily rituals, like teeth brushing?  I find these kind of high-frequency places are a great spot to decorate with photographs.  It’s also a lovely quick reminder of my blessings during the day.
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Erin flett

Collect things you love, that are authentic to you, and your house becomes your story.

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2.  What is the Right Size for Your Space

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Before

This stunning portrait was lost in a 16×20 canvas on a big wall above the sofa.  We relocated it to an approriately-sized wall between two doorways, leaving room for a wall display that complimented the space.

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After

A beautiful triptych fills the space over the couch perfectly.  We also raised the height of the wall gallery to draw the eye up, which has the happy side effect of making the space feel bigger.

Even a gorgeous portrait, like the one above, will look awkward in the wrong size.  What is the “right” size is somewhat subjective, but a couple of general rules of thumb are:

 

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Aim to fill 50%-75% of the wall space

Whether you opt for a statement portrait, a gallery, or a mixed-medium display with photographs paired with other artwork, your wall art should take up between 50%-75% of the available wall space in which it is hung.  This includes any wall space not covered by furniture, moldings, etc.  One caveat is for two-story walls, in which case make a pretend upper limit where the ceiling line would be, and use the space below to calculate your “available wall space.”  

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Too Big is Better than too small

If you don’t get it exactly right, it is better to err on the side of being too big.  That will generally look like a statement piece, whereas too small will look like an error.  If you do decide your wall art is too small for the space, you can sometimes combine it with other pieces, and otherwise you can repurpose it to a new place in your home.

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Use Painters Tape to Preview the Size

Painters tape is one of my favorite decorating tools… it works for visualizing all kinds of decorating decisions before committing to the cost and effort of buying or moving pieces.  Furniture size and placement, area rugs, and in this case… wall art!  Simply tape up the size and aspect ratio you are leaning toward, and it will give you a good feel for whether it’s the right scale for your space.

There’s just no faster way to ruin a beautiful piece of art than by making it too small for it’s home.

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3.  What Type of Wall Art Do You Want?

This is where some people get really bogged down and overwhelmed, but unless you have a really non-traditional decorating style, you can find something that beautifully complements your decor with any of the following three options for decorating with photographs:

 

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Open Canvas Wrap

Open canvas gallery wraps, or canvas wraps, are images adhered to a canvas layer and stretched around a frame.  These offer a clean, modern, no fuss way to display your art with dimension (not flat against the wall).  They work best in casual spaces but a dramatic canvas can also dress up a more formal room, and the lack of frame puts the emphasis squarely on the artwork.

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Framed Canvas

 Framed canvas can be dimensional (wrapped around a stretch frame before adding a decorative frame)  or flat like a print (unmounted).  Both have a polished feel and work well when you want a more finished look to your artwork.

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Framed Prints

Framed printed artwork can match so many different decors, just by selecting the right frame.  There is every option under the sun, from ornate to traditional, clean & simple to rustic and reclaimed wood, matted or unmatted, there is no room that can not be easily complemented by well chosen framed portraits.

4.  What Portraits Work Best with Your Choices?

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mudroom photography wall display

Last but not least… it’s time to select which images you want to display!  Now that you know the space, size, and type of artwork, it makes selecting the final images easier.  Here are a few tips on what to look for to best suit each type of wall art.

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Open or Framed Canvas Wraps

Canvas wraps are wrapped around a frame, so you lose some of the image to the sides of the wrap.  For these you are best selecting an image that has more room around the subjects so that you don’t lose important parts, like heads or feet, around the edge of the wrapped canvas.  The smaller your canvas, the bigger a percentage of your image you will lose, so this measure carefully how much image will be wrapped when selecting canvases below a 16×20, or request to have the edges digitally extended.

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Framed Canvas

This is a framed art with no glass, to show off the texture.  I love to select images that have lots of texture in them for this type of wall art.  Newborn portraits with textured textile layers and outdoor family images with trees and bushes both work well with the brush stroking applied to my fine art finished canvases.

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Framed Prints

Framed Prints:  This is your best option for close cropped images.  You can choose matted or unmatted to further set off the image.  The main thing to watch for with prints is that your aspect ratio matches the original (usally 2×3), because otherwise you will lose a little of your image.  As with the wrapped canvas, it is more noticeable the smaller the final print size is.

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So, to Recap…

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There you have it, four easy steps to decorate with photographs.  This is a process I personally guide my clients through for any session, including  providing all the needed technical details, examples of each type of artwork and sizes, and renderings of their images in thier own home.  All of which makes selecting their artwork a breeze!

  • Where in your home do you want to have artwork installed?
  • What is the appropriate size for the space?
  • What types of wall art do you prefer for the space?
  • What images work best with that space and type of artwork?

Time to get decorating!  Contact me below with any questions or just to connect.  And of course if you are ready for updated portraits to decorate with!

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