Framed Portrait Wall: Turn Memories Into Art

Add flair and a personal touch to your home by creating a portrait wall.

By: Amanda Formaro

With everything else in our lives so staged, painstakingly scheduled and planned, our homes are supposed to be our haven. In the past, we opted for sitcom set-like photos of smiling faces looking directly into cameras mounted in cheap frames, but times have changed.

Over last 10 years, we’ve left behind those cheesy staged school pictures and replaced them with relaxed, natural snapshots of laughing children and happy family moments.

Armed with digital cameras, high-tech smart phones and countless photo apps, parents these days are capturing great memories. The trick is getting those fabulous shots off your camera, onto paper and, eventually, up on the wall.

Once you’ve decided on which photos you want to showcase — whether it was the family portrait you had taken at the beach or last week’s trip to the ice cream parlor — you’ll need to decide how to display them.

Portrait walls have increased in popularity and are a wonderful way to share those captured moments. They also come in many shapes, sizes and styles, so you can find one that’s perfect for you.

The Lay of the Land
First, take a look around your home. Do you already have a wall in mind? Is it in a heavily trafficked area where people will see your photos, or is it hidden down a hallway where most guests don’t venture?

Before taking the plunge, consider two factors. No. 1: Be sure to display your photos where they will be seen, and No. 2: Keep the design and colors of the surrounding room(s) in mind. If your room is full of bright colors, using sepia-toned photographs may not be the way to go. You certainly don’t have to color code your photos, just be sure they’ll flow nicely with the rest of your décor.

Choosing Your Palette
There are plenty of different choices out there — we are no longer limited to the brown 20-centimetre-by-25.5-centimetre (8-inch by 10-inch) frames of our childhood. Frames come in several finishes and colors, with mattes, without mattes, and some hold multiple photographs of varying sizes. Nowadays, we can mount prints on canvas, attach photos to wood plaques with decoupage and even insert photos into old windowpanes.

Mixing things up can be fun by using a couple different colors or styles, but continuity reigns in style.

Get Inspired
Whether you find inspiration from a blog, website, a magazine or other media source, you can gather your ideas together in the bookmarks of your web browser just for your gallery wall.

Do an online search for portrait wall ideas and save those that appeal to you and work with your décor and personal style. Some people find happiness in symmetry and order while others prefer random groupings to express their personality.

Laying It All Out
Obviously you don’t want to start hammering nails into your wall without some sort of plan.

Now that you’re inspired, lay your portraits out on a large table or on the floor. Be sure that the area you are working on is approximately the same size as your wall. By using a table or the floor, you can arrange your photos and rearrange them until you find the grouping that makes you smile.

Tip: Use your smartphone or digital camera to snap a picture of the groupings that you like. When you’ve decided on the final grouping, keep that photo so you’ll remember where each photo goes on the wall.

Making It Great

  • Use cardboard or paper from inside the frames and hang them on the wall with painter’s tape. This will help you determine placement and fit.
  • There are alternatives to nails now, which can save your walls from damage or unsightly holes. You can try self-adhesive picture hanging strips, but make sure you’re using the proper strip for the weight of each frame.
  • Use a level to make sure that your pictures are hanging straight.


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