Sep 132011

family photo display with recycled wood palletsDoes the process of filling up bare walls in your family room, playroom, or kid’s room scare you? If you said yes, fear no more. Knowing where to start and using basic design principles, you can add a jolt of personality and blanket of warmth to those bare walls with creative family photo displays.

Try following these 7 steps to break down the task:

  1. First step is to select a space. Ok, maybe that’s too easy but this is where you start…..the bare wall. Find a place for your display. Doesn’t have to be a big space, just one that needs “something interesting.”
  2. Pick a theme like family camping trips, children’s sports, baby’s first year, or ancestors. Related subjects grouped together are more interesting than random photos.
  3. Determine how many photos you might need for the space, then go through your photos and select several of the best or your favorites (or both) from your selected theme. Doesn’t matter if they are recent or old, color or black and white, kids or adults.
  4. Add emphasis using a variety of photos grouped together, such as surrounding a large graduation photo with smaller ones from different life stages to show how a child has grown. Hang family portraits in order of ancestors or descendants….fun for clothing and hairstyle comparison!
  5. Create unity with mats and frames in same color or style (not identical) that work with the room décor.
  6. Add photos of different sizes to create balance, either symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial. Asymmetrical groupings require more thought but remain interesting longer.
  7. Space between each photo and space between photo display and surrounding area is important. Too close to each other looks cluttered. Too far apart looks desolate.

For ideas on display variety, take a look at these creative ideas.

family photo gallery wall with black and white framesUsing black and white prints and mats plus similar frame styles unifies this beautiful asymmetrical grouping. Notice how the largest photo draws your eye in while the smaller ones keep you interested by circling the created boundary.

family photo display with frames sitting on shelvesChange artwork to family photos and use this creative asymmetrical idea. Grouping uses both standing frames and wall mounted. Frame color variety of keeps it interesting, even though frames are not identical.

family photo display on folding screen dividerA fabric padded folding screen with crisscross ribbon is easy to mount, view, and change as new photos arrive. Black and white prints maintain unity but also give contrast against the lighter background.

family photo display using gameboardsPlayful display idea! Game boards create symmetrical group and large color photos create harmony. Notice the clips for hanging the photos? Great way to rotate prints as kids grow or add new theme.

family photo display with molding on wallSame size prints with mix of color and black/white prints and no need to frame since the linear photo rail is the frame. Used as a room border, it will keep the eye moving from one photo to the next. (I love the rail idea but would delete the lamp…..breaks the flow.)

baby nursery artwork with family photo collage Pops of pink and close-ups on the faces create emphasis and interest within this grouping. Even though the prints are identical in size, the image captured within is not. Space between photos is correct proportion…..not too close to be cluttered or too far to be “desolate”.

family photo display formed into heartCreative idea to display family photos by defining a specific shape. Outer edges of the heart and unified black/white prints keep eyes circling from one photo to the next. Another idea? Mount one larger print in the middle for emphasis or focal-point but maintain the shape.

family photo display in vintage guest roomGreat radial display with center frame as dominant focal point. Similar frame styles and black/white photos for unity but interest is created with size variety and contrast between white frames and black.

creative family photo ideas with picture railImages are all similar size but frames and mats add variety with change in shape and size. Mounted rail with hooks for hanging photos not only makes photos interchangeable, it protects the wall from too many holes.

curtain rod display for hanging family photosFabulous way to show family relationships by grouping parents at top of each strand with children shown below. Could also be used to show age progression of each family member with group photo mounted above.

family photo display with clothes pin hangers in frameSimple display using clothespins and line, but I recommend using for recent photos unless the display is framed and placed behind glass to protect heirloom photos from dust. Would be cool in a teen room with color photos and painted clothespins!

Hope these ideas have stirred your creativity and removed the fear of bare walls. Gathered together in large collection or small cluster, a creative family photo display is a sure conversation starter for teaching family history or reliving memorable times together.

(For more ideas on family photo display, see Heirloom Accessories: Using Family Photos and  How to Hang Family Photos in Kids’ Rooms.)


Hints from Curators:  Preserving Photographs and Documents,  Document and Photograph Preservation Tips

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