When it comes to choosing personal photographs to display in the home, no two people think exactly alike. Some like to adorn their walls with family photos, creating a living reminder of the important people in their lives. Others prefer to have fewer personal photographs on display. At the end of the day there’s no right or wrong answer, there’s only what’s right for you.
Here are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind when hanging personal photos in your home:
Regardless of where you stand on the topic of more personal photos versus less, it’s important to display the images that are most meaningful to you. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people shy away from their favorite photos out of worry for how they’ll be perceived.
This isn’t to suggest that you should put an embarrassing or compromising photo on display for all to see. It simply means that you shouldn’t let fear drive your decision. The whole point is to bring important memories into your daily life, so be sure to display the photographs that do that best.
To ensure your photographs not only look great but also age well, it’s important to make sure they are properly printed and framed. This is an area where cutting corners can end up costing you in the long run. There’s a huge variety of printing techniques and papers available, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Simply going with inkjet printing on a premium luster paper is your best bet. It’s the most common printing method, and the prints themselves are durable and look terrific. Also be sure to use archival mats that are custom cut for your print. It will not only help to enhance the overall look and feel of your photo, it will help to keep it looking great for a long time to come. And finally, go with a quality moulding for your frame. It’s an important accent piece in your home, and the difference between a ready-made frame and a custom, high quality frame is significant. Feel free to go with either glass or Plexi for the front. Plexi is more durable, but it’s also more costly.
Today’s digital cameras, even those found on smartphones, are amazingly powerful. In fact, a photo from the current iPhone can be used to make large format prints with no pixelation or blur to speak of. So without this constraint, the focus on size should be on your photographs relationship to its environment. If a framed photo is too large, it will overwhelm the space it’s in. Too small and it will look unnatural.
While the rules aren’t necessarily etched in stone, there are guidelines that will help to ensure your framed photos are in harmony with the rest of your room. The first thing to be aware of is the three-eighths rule. What this means is that the empty space on the wall should be equal to three-eighths the width of the frame. Put another way, simply measure your wall and multiply it by 0.57, and this will be the ideal width for your framed photography. As an example, if your wall is 120 inches wide, the width of your frame should be roughly 68 inches (120 x 0.57). It’s important to note that if, for example, your wall has two windows, and you’re hanging your work in between the two windows, then that’s the distance that you measure (as opposed to the width of the entire wall).
If you’re hanging a frame above a piece of furniture, the three-eighths rule applies, but it’s less rigid. Again, the three-eighths rule would be in relation to the piece of furniture, not the wall itself. And if you’re placing a frame above a fireplace, the width should be roughly equal to the opening of the fireplace (regardless of the width of the mantle).
If you wish to hang multiple pieces as a group, treat all of the framed photographs together as though they were one large piece. Do remember to include the space in between the frames when making your calculation, however. And the space in between the frames should be anywhere from 1-3 inches, with larger pieces spaced slightly further apart.
The height at which you place your framed photograph is critical. There is a tendency for people to hang their work too high, which creates a disconnect from other furnishings in your room. The frame should be centered at eye level. So, as a rule, the center of the frame should be 58 inches off the ground. (Keep in mind that if the center of the frame is at 58 inches, the hook will be higher.)
When hanging work above furniture, the bottom of the frame should be 6-8 inches above the top of the furniture. This can come into conflict with the 58-inch rule, but it’s important that your art be a natural part of its surroundings. This can be an issue with low, modern furniture. If you run into this, you may want to consider going with a larger frame or a grouping of smaller ones.
While the rules on hanging framed photos in your home aren’t fixed, by following a basic set of guidelines you can go about displaying your framed photography with confidence. This is important because few things contribute to making a house a home like personal photos. They’re a living reminder of the people and experiences that are most important to you.