I know I want to put some printed photos up in my house. That’s all I know. Help!
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Some questions to consider:
What’s your general style – bold and fun or more understated? Traditional or modern?
Have you seen something you’ve liked at a friend’s house or online and want to replicate it?
Here’s a Pinterest board I’ve made with ideas; sometimes browsing through photographs of other spaces can help.
You don’t have to do the same thing in every room of your house, either! You can just have some simple small photos in easel frames on your bedroom dresser, but have a big bold arrangement on one wall of your living room. Think about which rooms might benefit from a few family photos and start there.
Here are the main choices you should make to guide you as you plan:
- What room will you tackle first, and in that room, what wall or space are you considering? How big is it?
- How many photos for this particular space? A gallery wall, a collage composite, one large individual photo?
- What is your style or the style of your home? This can help guide what type of photo product you will hang there. Modern, timeless, traditional?
Let’s consider each of the main decisions you need to make one by one.
Eyeball your wall and try to visualize how one large photo would look there. (If you have artwork elsewhere in the house, bring it over and have someone hold it up for you so you can get a sense of it). Does it fill the space in a satisfying way? If yes, then one big photo is an option! If no, then consider doing a grouping of photos instead.
[photo looks good on this wall!]
[photo is too small for this wall]
A few notes on size:
- Huge photos on a small wall will overwhelm a space, especially if the human head in the photo is larger than life size.
- Very small photos won’t look intentional on a big wall, even if the room is small. Consider doing a grouping instead.
- Once you’ve eyeballed it and have a sense of what you’re going for, tape up construction paper pieces on the wall to give you a sense of what size looks good before you make or order your prints. Remember that if you want to use a framed photo, you’ll need to account for the size of the mat and frame as well.
- Photos that have an environmental component (e.g. there are people in them, but also a gorgeous beach) look really good big, because they can almost feel like paintings, for example:
If the wall space is horizontal (wider than it is tall), usually a horizontal photo or grouping will look best. If the wall is vertical (taller than it is wide), usually a vertical photo or grouping will look best.
[horizontal space horizontal arrangement]
[vertical space vertical arrangement]
SINGLE PHOTOS VS GROUPINGS
A single, large photo can make a really big statement. This works really well if you have a photo that you absolutely LOVE, particularly if it was taken someplace beautiful/meaningful so that the background also tells a story. Keep in mind that there is a limit to how big you can print iPhone photos.
A composite is a grouping of photos printed on one large sheet and framed together. I love how the photos tell a story together. If you have a series of photos you’d like arranged as a composite, I can help you with that! A composite is a great way to showcase a series of photos but on a relatively small wall. Here are a couple example composites I’ve made for clients:
If neither a single photo nor a composite will fill your space enough, a gallery wall might be perfect. It’s simply a series of photographs hung in an arrangement, each one in its own separate frame. Hang them so that the frames are separated only by a few inches from each other, so that they look intentionally grouped. You can lay them out in a few different ways. One option is to choose a central photo and group other photos around it, which might look like this:
I am also partial to an arrangement that divides the wall space into an upper and lower part, with one horizontal line dividing the two sections. It would look like this:
Canvas wraps are a traditional choice, and look really great in large formats. Typically you can’t get them in smaller than 8×10 size because the wrap around the edge will eat up too much of the photo.
Frames with mats can be traditional or modern depending on the frame you choose. White or rustic wood frames can work really well in beachy or rustic homes, and slim metal frames look great in modern or contemporary settings. I always recommend a white mat, which is timeless. If you have the budget for it, custom framing is always a great choice, because you can request 6 ply mats (which are a bit thicker than store bought 4 ply) and UV-filtering glass.
Standout mounts or bamboo mounted photos are a bit like canvas wraps, but more modern. The edge is typically metal or wood (or plastic made to look like either), and the photo goes all the way to the edge. They look great in wall galleries because the frame doesn’t interrupt the flow from photo to photo.
Hopefully these thoughts and example photos have given you a sense of what you like. I am here to help you figure it out if you’d like someone to weigh in!
Happy summer, everyone!