Blank walls are a tell tale sign of a nomadic lifestyle. After all, the process of hanging things on the wall is rarely quick or easy; so the hassle can rarely seem worth it if you’re only going to be in a place for a short time. That said, one of the best ways I have found to make a home feel more stylish, comfortable, personal and lived in is to actually get things up on the walls! I have no fear when it comes to putting things on our walls; however, I do often struggle to find wall decor that is both stylish and personal, yet doesn’t break the bank. (Since we have new walls to fill every few years, I don’t want to spend a fortune every time!) I’ve already shared with you a few of my favorite sources for budget-friendly artwork, but I also wanted to chat a bit about another strategy I heavily rely on to fill up our walls: family photos! Today I want to show you some family photos I’ve recently (errr…finally!) hung around our home and share my tips for stylish ways to use family photos as artwork in your home!
One of the best ways to make a stylish statement with photographs is to go big. Instead of lots of little frames cluttering up walls or surfaces, a single, large print can anchor smaller accessories and provides an excellent focal point in a room. When ordering large, just make sure you select a size that is proportional to where it will be hung/placed.
Hang in Arrangements
If you have a large expanse of wall, several photographs displayed together often looks better than a single, floating frame. Take some time to determine what size/orientation of frames/photographs will best fill out the wall; and don’t forget to account for vertical height as well as horizontal space. If you’re having trouble finding the right balance between too empty and too busy, cut templates from wrapping paper to play with arrangements before committing.
Hang It Where It Can Be Appreciated
Deciding where to hang photographs (rather than artwork) is very much a personal preference. I like to hang colorful artwork in spaces that need a major infusion of design, color or pattern. I then opt to hang photographs in places where we not only need something on the wall, but also where they can truly been seen and appreciated. This collection of family portraits greets us every time we walk up the stairs. Not only do I love that I pass them a million times a day, but it feels appropriate that these more “intimate” style photos are in a place where we as a family and close friends only go.
I love a good gallery wall where frames, artwork, photographs and accessories are all expertly coordinated for an awesome display. However, there may be spaces in your home where the eclectic, gathered look feels busy or haphazard. When you want a lot of frames without the fuss, considering streamlining your display with consistent print sizes and frame sizes/styles across your entire arrangement.
Mats Add Class
Whether you are framing out a blurry pic you captured with your phone or your favorite family portrait by your trusted photographer, mats make pretty much every shot look better. To up the style on even the most mundane of displays, consider oversized mats, layered mats, or colored mats…each will give a slightly different look to photograph. If your frame didn’t come with a mat, be sure to check out my budget mat trick here!
Years ago, I ordered a mounted photograph from a professional photo shop and loaded it into a big white frame without the glass. I always loved how crisp and clean the image looked from every angle, so I purposely had this photograph of the boys mounted to mat board as well.
Not only does the crisp color and lack of glare from no glass look so much cleaner and brighter, but I don’t have to worry about a glass frame falling and breaking in the playroom!
Coordinate Outfits to Decor
This tip might be a bit too Type A for some people, but it has truly changed the way I use photographs in our home. I would always be so frustrated to get back great family shots but not be able to hang them in nice big displays because the colors in the photos seriously competed/conflicted with our decor, wall color, etc. It then occurred to me to intentionally dress for the printed photos…meaning: match our outfits to the decor where the prints will most likely hang. It was no accident that we wore blues, blacks, browns, and stripes for our most recent family photo shoot. I knew I’d be able to incorporate the images into almost any room of our house because those colors work and play well with almost all of our decor!
Neutralize with Black and White
If you can’t color coordinate outfits/subject matter with your decor, or if you have photos that don’t relate to each other at all, you can still make any photo(s) work together and in any room by switching them to black-and-white. Black and white photos work with pretty much any style. They are instantly classic, and work as a neutral in any color scheme. If you really want photos on your wall but don’t know how to do it well, going black-and-white is a pretty safe bet!
Keeping Photographs Affordable
Compared to artwork, using photographs to decorate your wall can certainly be a cheaper option; but printing photographs can certainly be far from inexpensive. And since photographs are more likely to be swapped out regularly as families grow and change, keeping photo printing costs down is certainly a priority (at least in this household!). For smaller photos or displays that I know are going to be very temporary, I don’t hesitate to print photos off my home printer. But for larger prints that will likely be on display in our home for several years, I like to have them professionally printed.
I’ve used companies such as Shutterfly and Walmart to print large photos in the past, but when compared to professional photo printers, I’ve always been a little disappointed in the quality and vibrancy of the prints. I then started to read a lot about mpix on other blogs, in magazines, and on social media. Their promise of professionally printed quality combined with super affordable prices certainly intrigued me; and I loved all size, paper, finish and mounting options. I placed an order for all the various prints you see in this post; and within days, I had a neatly packaged set of photographs arrive on my doorstep ready for hanging!
I will admit, my expectations were pretty low. I feel like I’ve ordered large prints from various online retailers before and the quality always underwhelms me when they finally arrive. But this time was truly different. I had almost forgotten what nice quality photographs look like. These 11×14 prints with lustre coating were literally stunning. The paper, the texture, the colors…everything was so crisp and vibrant…and each 11×14″ print cost about $9!
Mpix’s promise of professional quality at affordable prices is spot on. This gorgeous 16×20 print with lustre texture mounted on double mat board (for my glassless frame!) cost about $30. I’m pretty sure I paid over $100 the last time I ordered a mounted photograph this same size.
And their easy-to-use website allowed me to easily change sizes, colors, and finishes according to my specifications! In short, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the prices, the quality, the service!
I love having pictures of our family on our walls. But it’s also very important to me that they look as stylish as they feel personal. Having really high quality prints is a great start; but combining great photographs with these easy framing and arranging tips will help your walls feel less like your family photo album and more like a curated display of your family’s favorite memories!
Have a great weekend my friends – see you back here next week!
I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however mpix did provide the photographs seen in this post for my use and review. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!Posted In California '16, DIY Decor, Product Reviews, Rental Solutions, Renter-Friendly Walls, Tips & Tricks