While some clients definitely come in with an idea of where they want to put their portraits during our consultation, many are stuck on where they want their portraits to live. Often, we don’t think about where the photos will make the most impact, or what size they should be, and there may be spaces we haven’t thought of that would be PERFECT for a portrait or set of portraits. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to display photos in your home, and we’ll explore a few below!
Displaying photos in your home is highly dependent on the medium of your images. Do you have wall art? A folio box? A single portrait? An album?
Read on for a list of places you should consider for displaying your photos in your home.
Where to display photos in your home
There are four types of spaces you can consider:
- Main Spaces
- Private Spaces
- Transitional Spaces
- Bonus or Multipurpose Rooms
1. Displaying Photos in Main Spaces
Main spaces include places that serve as focal points or central gathering points in your home. Typically these include a formal living room, an entry hall, a double height foyer with a grand staircase, and a dining rooms. Many of my clients choose their living rooms as the focal point for their wall art. They are normally displaying images behind a couch, on a large bare wall, or above a fireplace mantel.
These types of spaces are ideal for larger scale portraits.
2. Displaying Photos in Private Spaces
Aside from the bedrooms of the home, private spaces include a master bath, a dressing room or walk in closet, and powder rooms. A master bedroom is the perfect place to display maternity images, couples portraits, and boudoir images as well. The same applies to a walk-in closet or dressing room, and an en-suite bath.
A collection or trio of newborn baby’s images would naturally be perfect in the baby’s nursery.
3. Displaying Photos in Transitional Spaces
Transitional spaces can be hallways, or smaller spaces such as a partition wall dividing rooms, or smaller stairways. If the hallways is open or has some key bare walls, you can place a single large portrait in this space. For instance, in my home, I have a small wall between two doorways with a small console table. Above it I have a 20×30 fine art print.
Otherwise, these may be great places for a collage wall. I see this with staircases, where you can create a collection and mix of smaller 8×10 prints mixed in with a few larger pieces in a staggered, upwards angle.
4. Displaying Photos in Bonus/Multipurpose rooms
Bonus rooms can be family rooms, game rooms, office spaces, and EVEN the laundry room. It might sound funny, but you do probably spend a few hours a week in there! Again, depending on your home’s layout and room size, a family room or play area may be great for less formal arrangements, and collage walls. An in-home office is also a great place for a prominent image, or an empowered solo shot of yourself.
Many of these additional rooms, also have other surfaces for displaying your images, desks, shelving, bookcases, side tables, etc. These are great for placing framed images.
11 places throughout your home to display photos:
To recap, you should at least explore the below areas when considering where to display your images.
- Living Room
- Dining Room
- Foyer / Entryway
- Partition Walls
- Powder Rooms or Bath
- Walk-in-Closets or Dressing Rooms
- Home Office
- Bonus Room – Laundry, Family Room, Game Room
Scale is Important
Just as you wouldn’t put a tiny couch in a massive living room, your walls are no exception. One of the most important aspects of displaying portraits in your home is SCALE. The scale of your image or group of images should match the scale of the wall, or the furniture it is going above.
For some interesting visuals on what you should and should not do, visit this link here: “Scale – Do this, NOT that”
Displaying Single Portraits
If you are working with a Single Portrait – it is important to take into account the scope of your room when working with a single portrait. A single portrait should command the attention of the room and be sized appropriately. For a normal sofa, mantel, or sideboard, a 16×24 will be too small for the scale of the wall and surrounding decor. See below for reference. A general rule, is that over furniture, the piece (or grouping of pieces) should be no smaller than about 2/3 to 3/4 of the width of the sofa, table, fireplace etc.
You can find more info on that here: “How to get the perfect size painting for your wall”
However, for something like a nightstand, a bookshelf, a desk, or a side table, a smaller framed portrait is totally appropriate. Many “bonus” rooms in houses (see below section on bonus rooms) have the perfect spots for single images.
Displaying Multiple Portraits
For multiple portraits, you have a little more wiggle room in terms of size. You can create a collage of images to span the size that is appropriate for the room. As long as the spacing and layout are cohesive, you can hang portraits in a linear format, or stagger the placement as long. You can combine vertical and horizontal images, and you can mix mediums of what you are hanging.
Smaller single portraits can be displayed together in a grid format, staggered, or layered in different frames on a shelf or mantle in varying sizes. The options are endless.
How to Display a Folio Box in your home
Folio boxes can be thought of as a nice little “safe” for your images. Your fine art portraits can be stored safely here, but the front window also acts as a frame. You can cycle out the top image to display your favorite, or remove a few, frame and display them, and keep the others in the box.
A folio box is great for displaying on a bookshelf, in baby’s room, a coffee table, or for more private photos, safely tucked away. You can take the photos out at your leisure. Find out more about folio boxes here: “What is a Folio Box”
How to display an Album in your home
An album is a classic choice in displaying your images. If you are a minimalist but want to enjoy your photos at leisure, and album is your best choice. Albums are highly customizable and typically come in display boxes, which can function as a “frame” for the cover image. They are easy to store, can be used as a coffee table piece, and easy to share and show to other people. An album is a natural conversation starter as well, as you relive the moments within. An album is typically the easiest piece to hand down to your family as well.
Planning your photo displays in your home
- Consider your home’s decor
- Match finishes to your furniture or other home accents
- When planning your portrait session, consider the colors in your home decor as well
Places not to display your photos
- Avoid direct sunlight
- Places where temperatures will fluctuate drastically – ie: unfinished rooms, attics, three-season rooms, or very humid rooms.
You can find more in-depth information in this blog post I wrote on hanging your images here: “How to Hang a Picture – All You Need to Know”
But in the meantime, here are a few quick tips!
- Don’t display artwork too high- the ideal height for a piece on your wall should be central to the typical eyeline- around 57-60″ from the floor. Of course this may vary with very tall ceilings.
- Don’t hang too high over furniture- typically, your spacing above furniture should not exceed 8″
- Use the appropriate weight rated hardware for your artwork, and when possible, secure larger heavier pieces to studs in the wall.
- When hanging portraits above furniture, the outer dimensions of the piece of collage, should fit a few inches within the boundaries of the sofa, mantel, or other furniture piece.
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Sofia Ribeiro is an NJ Maternity photographer , NJ Baby Photographer, & Family photographer serving Somerville, Bridgewater, Bound Brook, Middlesex, New Brunswick, Bergen, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties in the North and Central New Jersey. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Facebook!