Decorating with photos

I recently did this post for my friend Allison’s photography blog.  Allison and I met through a mutual friend, Linsey of LLH Designs in Houston! MY job is to think about creating homes for my clients, many young families, and often the topic of decorating with photos comes up!  Clients will ask me “Is it okay to use these photos”  or “i know i have too many frames and need to edit” or “I have some great photos but never ordered or framed them”…I always assure them it is okay and we can edit and reframe their treasures to best compliment their home and style.  Often when clients ask me about helping them choose art for their homes I will ask if they have considered professional photography.  It is a double whammy investment, you are documenting family AND investing in timeless art. 

But decorating with photos is not a NO FAIL can make mistakes..not to offend or throw anyone off BUT there can be too many photos and frames and it can get crazy.  It can be a constant nag to a mom feeling like she needs to update photos or cull etc. My advice, BE INTENTIONAL. Plan and order and frames photos and also embrace the photo book which I know Allison is doing more and more of for coffeetables and keepsakes.  Last but not least, have fun!

These are some of my most common questions from clients when decorating with photos:

1. Should all photos be black and white?   The answer is yes and no.  Decide on a look and go with it.  Think about what kind of person you are when it comes to decorating and what appeals to you or bothers you.  I like a crazy mix.  But if you are more type A or want a fail proof look, stick to all black and white, similar frames and even consider totaly symmetry.

But the truth is, color can be gorgeous?  My kids are blonde and blue eyed but I know their eyes may change and hair darken..i want to catch that peachy cream skin and blondeness the way it is NOW so i have started buying more color prints.

2. To mat or not to mat? We will talk about this another time but i think it always looks good on a collage wall to have one or two closeup dramatic shots or one portrait that is large and NOT matted or throw in a colorful mat..i will show example on another post soon.

3. Large sizes??? I say go big or go home.  Of course i am all talk, sort of…I mean when you are in love with your baby and the photographer is amazing like Allison or my friend Tami from the K Gallery, its hard not to say “I want a 4×6 of EVERY SINGLE ONE” but try to also THINK big statement piece can be amazing,  Who cares if your mother-in-law doesnt get it?! (BTW i love my MIL!)

{via Apartment Therapy}

4. Should photos only be in hallways or “private spaces”?..we will talk about this in the future on Allison’s blog….so crazy!

5. What if i just cant bear to nail that many nails into my friend is the shelf from Pottery Barn or IKEA..we will  talk more in future posts about this topic! And if a shelf is too intimidating to hang, again consider one or two big pieces..less nails!

6. The Gallery Wall debate…to “mish mash” or grid? Symmettry and sticking with one frame and size can be gorgeous once the intial “hang” is complete (we will talk more about hangin another time)  then you know you have 8 x 10 print “holes” and that is what you can update and order and change as you get new photos or want to switch out images..isn’t this room below so elegant..who says photos are only for private or inmature spaces? Not this decorator!

And another great example of simplicity and ease in changing out/updating…

 Finally, what i like to call the “mish mash” or collage wall! Also a great way to hide a television, do you see it?

The collage wall often involves mixing in art and other objects and papers with your photos..yet another topic we will cover in my upcoming guest posts. So stay tuned!

If this is all fun to read about but you still need help planning your photos walls and installing them, I would love to help you feather your nest! email me at AND YES we can absolutely do it online and via email!

{all images from my pinterest boards}

Gallery walls are hard

Let’s face it, no matter how many posts are written about hanging a photo or gallery wall, it can be quite a project! Whether you use templates or make a zillion holes…it’s just plain hard.  I have had them become a hot mess quick..but i’ve also  had them go up easy and wonderful.  When you do your own, you have to add emotions into the should you really hang a certain person by someone they did not get along’s like seating at a dinner party.  Birthdays make me reflective and emotional so when i was working on this Sunday i could not help feel a mixture of sadness and joy. I finished it yesterday on my birthday which i thought was fitting since the wall really reflects my life (and of course that of our family too but you know what i mean!)

First I laid it out on the kitchen floor.  To get the right mix, i had to switch things around a bit, even switch out a few photos to get the right scale and pleasing depth etc.. And even after that planning it went up a bit different when i started nailing.

There is something wonderful about hanging photos of your children by photos of your grandparents that have passed. I so wish my grandfather could  have met my boys!


I even hung a wonderful photo of my parents when they very young, before they got unhappy and divorced. I could have never displayed this photo ten years ago when i first did this wall.  But time heals and this photo is a part of my history so I framed it!  Hopefully my mom won’t make me take it down!   But our photo walls really reflect our lives, painful and honest, which just adds to the feat of the project!  But it is worth it..feels good to have it updated with my little family and not just ancestors and have it reallly reflect where we are as a family and God’s faithfulness and blessings!

At the last minute, I added in Drew’s silhouette from Kindergarten he just brought home…Not fine paper art but I love it and I wrote the year and grade beneat it in pencil..It adds a large graphic spot for the eye to rest. 

I used a mix of silver, gold, and wood tone with a assortment of vintage and new frames. I used a few wood  frames from Pottery Barn with white mats, some don’t have mats and the linen matted silver frames are from West Elm (thanks LLH for telling me about those!) I love the vintage frame on the bottom of the image below! Most of the gold frames are old except a couple small ones from a local frame shop and the little round PB frame (not on their website but currently in the stores)..i needed something small and round i felt to fill space and counter the squares. I would replace with something a tad larger and vintage if i ever find..  I used no black frames because my stairwell walls are white and i felt the wood and silver and gold would be more interesting and warm and i like a true “gallery” look not too orderly…also I have a lot of black frames downstairs. What do you think of the baby bump…do pregnancy photos freak you out?

{top photo by K Gallery, bottom photo by Feather Nest Photography}

Not sure how to photograph this once its on the wall.the stairwell is no narrow so i wanted to give you a sneak peak. My one real regret is that this great new photo of Henry, his one year portrait by my friend Tami at the K Gallery, is up a bit don’t really see it well as you go up the stairs..its a bit high and hidden.  I would like to have it more at eye level..Not sure how to fix that but keep in mind if you have one thing you really love to put it in a visible spot.

The one wise thing i did (i think) is I left room to grow. I framed a bookpage (subject matter is the complexity of human love! how perfect!) and hung inside a large vintage frame at the bottom of the stairs…and at the top of the stairs I left an empty oval frame (one of my favorite vintage frames so good to use it on this wall, it’s been all over my house)..this leaves a spot to grow and display what God has for us in the future..another child?  more photos of the boys as they grow?…we’ll see…I love the open feeling it to grow and do more “living.”

Good luck with your GALLERY and photos walls…is it making you pull your hair out????  If you have any tips leave in the comments..i would love to hear and share with clients! Just remember it is worth the effort!

 Go in peace!

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