A family photo display wall can capture your family’s events, milestones, and personalities. If you’ve liked the look of the photo walls you’ve seen in other homes or in magazines, why not install one of your own? Here are some ideas on how to turn your box of family photos into an eye-catching personal gallery.
To decide on an overall look for your photo wall, glance around your home and consider what you see.
Match the Mood – Is the style of your home traditional, rustic, Craftsman, modern, or global eclectic? Whatever the style, there are lots of moldings and ready-made photo frames available to go with any environment.
Be Color Conscious – Your photo wall will look pulled together if you limit your frames to one color or finish -- for instance, tones of silver, gold, black, or rustic woods. This way, any new photos you add will harmonize with the rest.
A Good Fit
To figure out the total area for your photo display, estimate an 8x10-inch space for each photo smaller than 8x10 inches. This gives you a rough idea of the number of photos you can hang, including the spacing needed between photos. Of course, you should allow extra space for larger photos.
Mixing It Up
Create interest with frames of different sizes and shapes. Use some square and multi-opening frames for events such as weddings, graduations, and anniversary parties. Include a few oval and circular frames for variety. Custom frame shops can pair matting and unique moldings to make any photo “sing.”
Arrange photos by events or blend events and personalities. In addition to pictures of family weddings, birthdays and baby and graduation portraits, it’s always nice to include a close-up portrait of each family member.
An Ounce of Protection
Before you put hammer to nail or picture to hanger, it’s worth the effort to take a few precautions.
Separate Your Surfaces – Photograph emulsion sticks to glass, ruining a photo when the two surfaces touch. To safely separate photographs from glass, use either acid free (archival) matting or acrylic spacers. (In fact, it’s a good idea to make sure your frame shop always uses archival materials to protect your photos.)
Remember the Sunscreen – Protect your photos from light damage with ultraviolet (UV) light-filtering glass. That way your precious photos won’t fade and your memories will be preserved for generations to come. Any glass in ready-made photo frames should be UV rated. If it isn’t, replace it with UV-safe glass. (For ultimate clarity and minimal reflection choose Museum Glass®.)
Avoid Craters – We recommend Floreat® hangers and nails. Floreat nails are Teflon coated, sharp, and strong. Plus, they leave only the smallest of holes in a wall’s surface. Floreat hangers are available in weight-bearing sizes ranging from 1 to 75 pounds.
Completing the Picture
Now that your photos are framed and ready for hanging, here are just a few more things to consider.
Put Your Heart in the Right Place – If your photos will hang along a hallway, but only one or two will be visible from other rooms, make sure the photos at either end of the grouping represent the core members of your family.
See the Light – Notice the illumination of your hanging area. Paler-toned photos are easier to see in bright areas, while bolder high-contrast photos don’t need as much light.
Stay Focused – Position your photos between 4 and 6 feet above the floor, and begin at eye level. If your photos fill a large area, give your eyes a place to rest -- some empty space without photos. Too many images can have a dizzying effect, especially if the photo wall is alongside a staircase.
Keep It Natural – Stagger your photos instead of lining them up exactly, so the flow looks organic. For an Old World effect, let the display evolve and add new photos as you get them.
Here are some ways to keep things interesting, add dimension and make your picture wall a true representation of your family.
Get Creative – One of our customers framed an expired passport. Another put together a collection of wedding portraits going back three generations. Someone else had a section devoted to graduation photos. Ephemera, sports memorabilia, awards, travel mementos -- there are no rules, anything you like can go up on your family photo wall. (Don’t forget a picture of the family pet!)
Be Diplomatic – We’re not talking diplomas here, but politics. Make sure to include a photo of each family member. Everyone will be sure to look for his or her photo and you won’t want to leave anybody out.
Keep It Up – Your photo collection should continue to grow as your family changes and new events take place. Every so often, edit out old pictures, add new ones, or just rearrange your pictures to refresh your display.
Back to Queen Anne Frame
© 2008 Norma L. Howard. All rights reserved.
Written and published exclusively for Queen Anne Frame.