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Picture Placement

Cintia Brkns
4 days ago

We just bought our first home and amongst the anxieties I have is where to hang our family portraits!? We have two children under 5 and got married 2 years so there's lots of beautiful pictures to hang. I have a formal dining and living room, a staircase (not huge) and foyer.

Comments (64)

  • decormyhomepls

    I personally love having my pictures out. What great pleasure when I look over and see my happy, beautiful loved ones

  • One Devoted Dame

    I agree with Remodeling up thread... Furniture first, then photos.

    I'm in the "all over the place" camp, too, like Friday. :-D

    I'm currently designing a Gallery Wall for my family room. It will be a complete family story -- Courtship, Wedding, Kids, all in monochrome (haven't decided whether to do black & white, or sepia, yet) -- and I've been with my husband since we were 15 and we have a boatload of kids, so it'll be huge. lol

    I also make my own art, though, or have it carefully commissioned, so I'm odd in more ways than one.

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  • ilikefriday

    @One Devoted Dame

    House surrounded by family photos, diy art, odd? You sound like my twin, except there is only one kid in my life. I don't have the energy for a boatload ;-)

  • Cintia Brkns

    Odd? Nonsense I thought I wrote your comment at first!

  • J Williams

    I think it is good for kids to see their art up on the wall, plus I like kid art. My parents didn’t take very many pictures of me, I was the 2nd kid, and putting up my art would not have matched the decor. My parents did have some studio pics done and they were nice, so at least we have those.

  • Cintia Brkns

    My kiddo is creative and although I'm working on minimalist I frame the art he prides himself on.

  • J Williams

    You will love looking back on them as they get older, every time I look at stuff my son made, I remember the story behind it.

  • One Devoted Dame

    and putting up my art would not have matched the decor.


    My kids' art doesn't match my decor, either, and mine use packing tape to secure their pieces to the wall when I'm not looking. lol

  • Gerry

    I never understood the advice offered by some Houzz pros to keep family photos out of the “public” spaces. I love my kids and grandkids but I never wanted portraits of them smiling down at me in bed. ;-)

  • J Williams

    Those are some spunky kids, would never have dreamed of doing that in my parents house. I would break out into a cold sweat just borrowing stuff from the desk lol. My mom had super duper mega expensive wallpaper in the living room of our first house, if I hadn’t been told about it, I sure would have known it was different compared to my friends places. My bedroom was also wallpapered.

  • Cintia Brkns

    Gerry,I totally agree,I actually am framing some...sophisticated photos of myself in our bedroom- no kiddie photos. Trust, not everything makes it to the frames.Tough love kiddo.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    I think it's more of the way people choose to hang up the pictures, and not quite so much the family photo itself. (although, some should just go in a photo album! Like school pictures)

    A properly done gallery wall w/family photos can look great.

    randomly hanging these pictures on a wall would look messy and 'higgedly piggedly' (? I love this phrase J williams!) But here on the floating shelves they look great.

    this is doable

    this is a NO

    want to display kids artwork? great. do it like this and not tape it to the wall or fridge!

  • Cintia Brkns

    Ahh, thanks so much for the visual references!

  • tatts

    It's your house. You do whatever you want to it inside, no matter what HGTV says.

    There is no "anxiety" about furnishing or decorating your home. If anyone doesn't like it, don't invite them back, or, better yet, cut them out of your life.

    A home should represent your life, not some home-reno TV show impossibility filled with Chinese sweatshop gew-gaws bought at a décor store that don't fool anybody.

    Deep breath. Hang them wherever you want.

    But no wall-words! Ever! Sorry, that just slipped out. And no huge clocks! Whoops.

  • One Devoted Dame

    Those are some spunky kids, would never have dreamed of doing that in my parents house.

    Well, they're autistic, so their brains are very logical... "I have a picture I drew. I want to put it on the wall. Tape is sticky." :-D We have progressed considerably from drawing directly *on* the walls, so putting art into frames is our next step. We're getting there!

    [...] do it like this and not tape it to the wall or fridge!

    Lots of redirection needed in my house, for sure. lol

    But no wall-words! Ever! Sorry, that just slipped out.

    Ohmygosh, yes, lol. :-D

    And no huge clocks! Whoops.

    Dude. I use my huge clock all the time. ;-) It's above my range (in the dreaded, "That's nothing more than a huge dust collector spot!!!" above the cabinets), and I can see it in the kitchen, dining, family, and play rooms. I don't have a watch or a cell phone, I'm such a dinosaur. The roman numerals sharpen the kids' clock reading skills.

    In light of the aforementioned circumstances, I officially submit my application for an exception to the Huge Wall Clock Rule. lol

  • IdaClaire

    Some Houzz folks don't like family photos in public spaces and will suggest out of the way spots that visitors don't normally see. I happen to love family photos, especially of kids and in every room!

    Yeah ... I recently shared a couple of "comments" with different-minded folks in another thread about this very thing. What is odd to me is that there seems to be no reason ever given for why personal photos are not appropriate for so-called "public spaces". (And again, who among us has a "public" house?!) I have yet to see one good, logical reason for this "rule" (and it is, in fact, a "rule" that seems to harken back to many decades ago when people covered their sofa in plastic and arranged the ashtrays "just so" for their guests), so can only deduce that it's purely personal opinion, and in that light, I believe nobody should EVER tell another person where they should display their cherished photos. I'm actually shocked that there are those among us who still hold fast to such an outmoded thought. The vast majority of people today live casual, relaxed lifestyles and want their homes to reflect this.

    My god. Your children are only little once. You had a gorgeous wedding photo shoot once. Pardon me for being so blunt, but HANG THAT SH*T ON YOUR WALLS, MY FRIENDS! Life's really, really short, and what you look at every day in your own home should only follow ONE rule, and that is -- it must make your heart sing.

    So there.

  • ilikefriday

    What I find interesting is that hanging a photograph of a family member is deemed to be distasteful but hanging a painting of a random person that you do not know is perfectly fine. I have never seen a post where someone was discouraged from hanging paintings of random people. I could be wrong. Photography is an art but seemingly should not be displayed in the same way as a painting would be. What if I want a photograph in my living room of a person I do not know. Would that be ok? After all, the person would not be related.

    Trying to understand these rules makes me dizzy. That is one of many reasons why I don't pay one bit of attention to any of them.

  • J Williams

    Who said anything about random strangers? Everything is a matter of personal taste and opinion, it is a free world and you can display your clown or kitty cat collection if you want to. Or paint your whole house purple or bubblegum pink.

    my house is full of tacky or questionable things FYI, and I stand by them, in case anyone thinks I am trying to be a bastion of tastefulness.

  • ilikefriday

    J Williams

    Well, of course, I can decorate any way I like. This is an internet forum where questions are asked so I asked a question pertinent to the discussion. Why is a photograph of a family member not ok but a painting of a random person perfectly fine? If you don't like the question then just ignore it. I have no problem with that.

  • B F

    I had no idea people felt so strongly against family photos. honestly, if they're framed and hung nicely, go for it, anywhere you want.

    I personally don't have any in my house but that's because I have a lot of art and not enough wall space. my husband is always trying to get me to hang family pics and I'm like..."no room, you can put them in your office then". but that always made me feel like kind of a heartless person, lol.

    Cintia Brkns -- I agree with the others that you should furnish your house first. give it lots of time -- weeks or even months! start with the most visible rooms and work down from there. hanging art is the last thing I do whenever I move and it always takes me forever!

    my preference is to see groupings of photos that have a cohesive look (frames that go well together, etc). if you want to elevate an overall look, maybe get the photos reprinted so they're all the same size, or all black and white, etc. so there's a "theme".

  • Anne Duke

    One reason it’s suggested to not hang family photos everywhere is that guests then feel obligated to look and comment. That can be very uncomfortable. Sorry.

  • J Williams

    I don’t think anyone even brought up displaying pictures of random strangers, and no one said you can’t display family pics. I do have a painting of Dostoyevsky and a random foetus. Neither of whom I know or knew personally. I hope you realize I am just being tongue in cheek.

  • B F

    I literally never felt a sense of obligation. but then again, I happen to love looking at other people's family photos. esp ones that are really old or where the subject is in their awkward years.

  • ilikefriday

    J Williams

    Perhaps my post was unclear. It is not worth explaining any further. No harm done.

  • B F

    J Williams - nice $hitts Creek reference. I love that show! and if I had a family portrait like that, I'd totally put it front and center in the main entrance!

  • ilikefriday

    Anne Duke

    I vaguely recall reading that somewhere. That seems so odd to me. Why would anyone feel compelled to comment on any particular item in someone else's home? It would be nbd if they commented or not.

  • J Williams

    I don’t know how I could take myself so seriously that I could have a life sized/ more than life sized portrait of myself in the living room, I am a very not tooting my own horn type person. I have at least one naked self portrait of myself dating from art school and that will pretty much never see the light of day. It is even thought tasteless to hang your own artwork but critics be damned I needed to store them somewhere, it might as well be on the walls.

  • Cintia Brkns

    Right on IdaClaire. Life's way too short I'd rather be surrounded by actual events in my life than mass produced art any day of the year.

  • B F

    J Williams, oh you better bet that if I had a giant portrait of my family, it would be commissioned to be as ridiculous as possible, and it would be hung ironically. I also have a naked self portrait that nobody will ever see tucked away in my basement, LOL. yeesh, bad art school memories.

    as for hanging my own art-- I've done it. no regrets!

  • B F

    Cintia Brkns most of the art in my house is real, and it sparks memories of the friends who created it or the event that led to me buying it. BUT I agree with you! I feel like I'm the exception, and that houses full of family portraits are the norm.

  • J Williams

    Yes, similar for me, I am a visual person, so I have always collected stuff to hang up, plus my hubby and I are both artists, and we have both spent most of our adult life in and out of art circles, acquiring art through trade, in payment or in one case through abandonment. It is hard to avoid this scenario doing what we do and with me having hoarderish tendencies.

  • partim

    My son and DDIL have my 4-year old granddaughter's artwork and crafts all over their living room wall. IMO it is ugly and cluttered, although I would never say so. Their house, their rules.

  • J Williams

    My sil likes things on the spartan side, I find it chilly. I like clutter balanced with clear spaces, feels more real to me. Everyone operates differently. And kids art can be the best.

  • Kathi Steele

    I have to agree with Beth. Random higgedly piggedly pictures of anything looks bad. But, coordinated nicely framed photos of anything looks great. Beth's examples are awesome as usual.

  • IdaClaire

    I've never felt compelled to comment on other people's photos or artwork or wallpaper or ANYTHING that I didn't feel like commenting on. I don't understand why we would ascribe feelings of commentary obligation to guests who enter our homes, so nope - sorry, but for me that "reason" is not a valid one to keep the "no personal photos where guests can see them" rule alive.

  • tsjmjh

    I do not understand the current rage of giant horse or cow prints/paintings. I don't "get it" and I do not like any of them but I would never say anything to the person who puts that type of art on a wall. I am not qualified to say where or what type items should be displayed in another person's home.

    This is my opinion and no one is supposed to be offended but if there is a "rule" about displaying family photos, then I think there should be a rule about cows. ;>)

  • decoenthusiaste

    Pick some special ones of the kids and blow them up on canvas in black and white or sepia to hang above the sofa. Mat and frame some special ones for the nursery.

    EasyGallery® frames · More Info

    Go big or go home on the stairwell.

    Ferry Rd · More Info

  • J Williams

    What about birch tree paintings? Those things sure got everywhere. And birch logs in planters. The horse pics might have something to do with the farmhouse trend. Like the geese of the 80s.

  • B F

    Or dried up starfish in bathrooms? (which makes me really sad.)

  • Cintia Brkns

    @decoenthusiaste I have a mixture of canvas, lustre, luster, metal prints. I go through Nations photo lab.

  • Cintia Brkns

    J Williams I have a birch in my front yard but I think it's on it's way out. ☹

  • J Williams

    Since I have never heard of lustre or metallic prints before, I looked at their site, no further clarification there. I am guessing lustre means matte or pearl? What on earth is metallic? They have glossy as expected. What is the “professional“ print vs matte and glossy? I used to print my own pictures for context.

    Ok. Metallic means printed on aluminum. I think. How do you hang them?

  • Cintia Brkns

    Yes Lustre is in between pearl and matte and is quite fine looking;I'm happy with the look of it. Metallic is just how it sounds but I have a metal print in B&W on my wedding day and it's one of my favorites.

  • suedonim75

    “don't understand why we would ascribe feelings of commentary obligation to guests who enter our homes, so nope - sorry, but for me that "reason" is not a valid one to keep the "no personal photos where guests can see them" rule alive.”


    I don’t have people over to my house who judge me on my material things or if my things are outdated. My guests would compliment something if they liked it, and not say anything if they didn’t.

    I live in my house, my comfort is first and foremost. I don’t decorate or furnish for guests, I do it for me. When guests come over, I make sure they are comfortable and accommodated, but I really don’t give 2 sh*ts if they don’t like family pictures displayed, a sectional couch, or my popcorn ceilings.

  • PRO
    James Montana Custom Home Design

    When hanging pictures you care about, it often helps to choose a room with northern exposure. You get a more even light with better color rendition.

  • J Williams

    Sadly, birches are not long lived. Trees like oaks and white pines live for hundreds of years but birches only stick around for maybe 20 or less, like poplar trees, they grow quickly, are somewhat brittle and die.

  • Cintia Brkns

    It's definitely gonna come down. I will start a different discussion for landscaping ideas for a colonial home

  • partim

    Sometimes I want to look at my wedding album, or pictures of my children when they were young, or art of theirs that I have saved. But I don't want to look at them every day so I don't put them on my walls.

    In my home I prefer to look at things that I chose because I like them as art. Some are original pieces, some are reproductions of pieces I love, and some I bought at Value Village just because I like them. Maybe people think they are impersonal compared to pictures of family members but they aren't to me, because I chose them.

    I think people should hang whatever pleases them and not worry whether other people will criticize their choices as unstylish, impersonal, unoriginal, un-whatever. If cow prints make you happy, go for it. Or clocks.

    I do think that multiple small pieces as a gallery wall are harder to put together attractively, compared to a single large piece or a pair, but that applies whatever the pieces are.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    J Willimas,,,,is that why my White Birch trees (I have two that I planted side by side with the wispy like branches ) are suddenly dying? one year they were fine, and last year they became dried out sticks! and it's been about 20 years too!

  • J Williams

    Birches are prone to diseases and pests which wipe them out, plus are sensitive to drought and city conditions, in that regard they are a little like beeches. Not seeing them, it would be hard to say. But it is not unusual or shocking for them to have shorter lives.

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