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Family Friendly Walls

By Kate Jonuska


Family is what turns a generic house into home sweet home, which explains why decorating walls with family photos has been wildly popular for generations. Since both family and guests will likely enjoy your pictures for years to come, taking time and care to make your gallery wall shine is well worth the effort, so try these tips from a pro.

Light & Color

“For a family wall, the first thing you want to look at is the quality and the lighting of the image,” says Mike Dobson, sales and operations manager with Mike’s Camera in Boulder. Photos shot with your phone or even high-resolution photos that are backlit, for instance, may never be suitable for enlargement. Next, choose vibrantly colored photos, perhaps choosing a mat color that draws out similar shades from your picture. “On the other hand,” Dobson says, “sometimes things just look darn good in black and white, especially if you’ve got a picture where your background isn’t as vibrant and attractive.”


photo by Ondrom;

Complementary or Identical

If your design style is clean and minimalist, frame and mat all of your images the same size and hang them in a perfect grid. Opt for black and white prints. It creates a dramatic look and will match your home’s overall aesthetic. If congruent is not your taste, go large with at least one photo to create a focal point, then fill in around it with smaller prints. Mix and match your frames and matting in a variety of colors as well.


photo by Triocean;

Plan Ahead

Preplanning your gallery before you begin hanging avoids headaches and ensures a result you’ll love. At the least, measure your photos and the size of your wall, then mock up your gallery on paper. For perfection, cut butcher paper into the exact dimensions of your frames and arrange them on the wall with painter’s tape until you’re satisfied. If you place a tape strip on the back of your frame and mark where holes are necessary, you can then stick the tape on the wall, level it, and have perfect nail placement the first time, every time.


photo by Andrew Angelov;

Think Outside the Frame

Matted and framed photos may be the norm, but newer photo options like photo printing on canvas could add interest and personality to your gallery wall. Though such canvases have options for finished edges and don’t require framing, “A canvas in a drop-shadow frame is beautiful,” Dobson says. “Personally, I think it gives it a very polished, elegant feel.” Mike’s Camera also offers photo printing on metal, which is durable, lightweight and creates stunning conversation pieces.


photo by Gladskikh Tatiana;

Choose the Venue

For many, a tall staircase wall is an obvious choice for a gallery wall, but really, any wall will do the trick. Opt for a public space like the dining or living room for photos you want to share with guests. You might create a gallery of more intimate memories of you and your partner for the master bedroom. No matter where you do your hanging, be mindful of keeping the images out of direct sunlight to avoid glare and ensure your photos won’t fade over time.


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