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Decorating with Portraits~My dream for you

I have this dream that I want to share with the world (yes, I see you checking in from Germany, Japan, and Austrailia). Now stick with me and hear me out. My dream is but a simple one—to beautifully display family portraits around your home. I’m not just talking about professional images (though I do know someone who can help you with that) but the images of your family that tell a story, share an adventure, or just show off how cute you are as a family.
Though your children may not notice those images enough to mention every day, it is tucked in the back of their minds, and they feel the security that they are in a loving family. Parents, do you want to know the secret to raising loving, creative, honest, self-confident kids? By nurturing their self- esteem. How better to nurture that self-esteem than to decorate your home with THEM! In her book “The Magic of Encouragement,” therapist Stephanie Marston suggests placing portraits of your child being loved next to their bed. These images will be “the last thing before they sleep and the first thing they see when they awaken.” Images speak louder than words.
And moms—make sure YOU are in some of those images! Your children NEED to see you loving and squeezing and adoring them. They need to see that family portrait engrained in their memories as they pass through the revolving front door every day because they DO notice. We love to look at our children (and so do they) but they also need to look at you. Don’t worry about the fact that you still need to lose that last 15 pounds, your children love you for you, and you need to be remembered at this time in their lives.

In my opinion, each room should have at least one picture displayed. In rooms with larger walls, large prints can either be clustered together in varying sizes or standing alone. Have you ever seen what an 8×10 looks like hung on a big wall all by itself? It doesn’t look right—it looks too small! I do think that if a cluster of 8×10’s are huddled together on a wall, it works better. But ideally, an 11×14 is the smallest that should go up on a wall—16×20 is even better–20×30 every better! I try to educate my clients on the importance of large portraits. They are scared, worried how it will look, then when they see it, they LOVE it! Something about BIG just doubles the happiness, not to mention the visibility.

I used to worry that people would come to my home and see family pictures everywhere and think I’m vain for displaying so many prints of my family. Well guess what? I love my family more than anything and its true—I think we are AWESOME and I love to look at us! I much prefer my family to black ironwork wall hangings. When I go to friends or strangers home, my favorite thing is to walk all around their home and silently peer into their frames, have a glimpse into their lives. I am currently in a one story home, and I’ve dreamed of two stories so I could decorate the stairwell with portraits through the years like my mom has done. Each time I go to her home, I look at portraits from our family and watch myself grow up through the portraits on the wall. I LOVE it!

Anyway…I am going to blog at least once a week on decorating with portraits and I need YOUR help. I want to see how you have decorated your walls. I want to see pictures of your stairwells, your family area, your bedrooms, above your fireplaces–even a tabletop display. Show me where you have pictures displayed and I will share them on this here blog. Even send me the images you aren’t sure about and I’ll give my advice on what you can do differently. I’m not a super home decorator, but I’ve studied and work on decorating with portraits quite a bit.

I want my children to feel that family togetherness, the unity. I want the pictures displayed around our home to remind them that they are a part of a family who loves them. This is my wish, for me and for you. I want to get those great family moments off of the computer and onto the walls.

Here are some snaps from around my home.
This is our Family Room

I created this about 4 years ago and our new baby isn’t even in them (that will change soon). My photography isn’t up to par here, but I love it anyway. I put my heart into this wall display. I found the “D” at a craft fair and really wanted to center portraits around it. It took a long time to plan out, but I really wanted this large wall to be 2 things: black and white and candid.
Notice none of them are “smiling/looking at the camera.” They are life as we know it. My favorite is my husband on his bike. He was heading out for a ride, I just got my new camera in the mail and playing with it as my kids sat on the sidewalk to play. We did this often. 2nd favorite is my two boys peering into the treasure box as we took a nature hike one day.
I love the one my husband took of myself and my kids, and I love my son flying his star wars guy around in the bottom left. They have digital mats around the edges. I created the border in photoshop instead of using a standard mat.

Below is my girls room, this is a 16×20 of my older daughter. I took one of my younger daughter just a few weeks ago in the same outfit and plan to have them hang together.
Room at a glance with the portrait on the very right.

This is my boys room. I printed 20×30′s, and they helped me pick out which sports shot to include. Though you can’t see the portraits below, you can see where they are in relation to the room and how big it is (sliver on the left of the image is the frame). Their room was just not up to par when I took the first imge a few minutes ago.

Our kitchen. This goes along with my rule to not put 8×10′s on the wall unless clustered together. This is plate rack and the 8×10′s are mounted on a hard board so they stand alone without a frame. I change these throughout the year.

Our old living room below, but only example of the 24×36 portrait on the easle–LOVE it BIG!


They you have it…now share with me! Don’t worry if they aren’t perfect.

Email me at with the subject Decorating with Portraits. I want:
1)To know where you live (vague or specific)
2) A pull back shot of the room with wall arrangement
3) Close up shot of the wall
4)Any other info such as how you decided on the images to put up, or the sizing or whatever.

Share this with your friends—the more participating, the more we all benefit.

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  1. Kristen! What a great idea! I have pictures of our family displayed in each room, too, but nothing big enough just yet. I don't have any of them hanging on the walls, just in frames on shelves and dressers and display places. But, this has me thinking more about it! Thanks for this post!

  2. Emma Jo says:

    I love this idea!! I am always at a loss for how to arrange portraits and pictures…which I love to have everywhere as well. (most of them are by you!) I will send you a picture as soon as I have a room clean enough…for some reason all my frames are ALWAYS crooked too. I can't wait to see what people submit. I love your home, so cozy and loving with all those pictures.

  3. Katie Evans Photography says:

    You've inspired me to get my pictures printed and displayed! Why oh why, to I have my beautiful pictures just sitting on my hard drive? It's sad. Okay, this week I plan to get some printed and put up! Also…the weather is finally getting nicer let's see if we can coordinate a date for some pics!

  4. Jessica says:

    Reading this post helped me feel better because I feel the same way about wanting happy memories and pictures of love all around our house! I agree, why decorate with anything else?! I recently worried that it was vain or "showy" of me to put so many pictures of our family all over our house but I love them, so why not?! I have been wanting to call you for your help because I recently bought new frames and want to put bigger pictures up. I know you warned me, and I now agree, 5×7's and 4×6's are way too small to have on my big wall, even in collages! So I need help redoing my wall. I'll send you a picture of what it currently looks like though if you want. It was fun to read your post and feel myself thinking "Me too!" about everything. ;)

  5. I think this is a beautiful post. I love the idea that what we decorate with shows what we love, and we definitely should love our families through how we decorate. It always makes me sad to see tiny little 8x10s up with way too much space on the wall around them—they look so lonely!

  6. So glad you are doing the Decorating with Portriat series this month…I wandered here from eighteen25 and have enjoyed browsing around so much!! Love, love, love your your black and white candids in your family room! I have been staring at a blank wall in ours for 10 years, unsure what to do with it…and now I know ;) Thanks so much for sharing!!


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