Although life has slowed and most events have been canceled this year, many of us still know an upcoming graduate and may be lucky enough to receive a graduation portrait or two.

Through the years, chances are you have already received dozens of pictures of family and friends commemorating special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, retirement parties and anniversaries; what do you do with this myriad of ever-expanding photos? How do you decide when it’s time to retire some? How do you group them, and where can they be displayed?

The collection and display of photographs is one of the most common problems I encounter in my work, so let me share a few ideas to reduce the clutter, allowing you to truly see and appreciate these precious memories.

When you are willing and able to take on a project, collect all the photos in your home and place them on a large, clean work surface. Empty any frames whose contents no longer strongly appeal to you or need to be on display at all times. (For example, many of your dated pictures would be more appropriately displayed in a photo album, where they could be enjoyed privately.)

When hanging, I think it makes sense to group photos by topic. For example, turn-of-the-century portraits of ancestors make a beautiful arrangement when framed in antique-style frames and hung together in the hallway or personal office. I enjoy displaying pictures of friends and family in the guest room, where these same people will be staying while visiting. A small collection of your children’s or family photos can be grouped on a narrow wall, or a tabletop.

The easiest way to create a unified, coordinated gallery is to group them by frame type. Gather all dark woods, all silver-toned, lighter wood, or all-dark metal, for example, then fill and hang for an instant gallery look. Likewise, all black-and-white prints or mats will unify the grouping, creating a feeling of intention.

Nicely framed, highly valued photographs can be displayed in any room of the house, although it is traditional to present your more personal or casual pictures outside of the main living area. Smaller pieces can be tucked in among books, hung on bookcase frames, or overlapped on floating shelves. Hallways are perfect for family groupings, and your wedding or children’s pictures will go nicely in your bedroom. Kid’s artwork adds color and whimsy to any space (even the laundry room!).

Remember, just because it’s been displayed for years doesn’t mean it needs to be out forever, so be selective. Choose your absolute favorite images and narrow the subject matter. Although we all undoubtedly have the most beautiful children and grandchildren in the world, perhaps one favorite childhood photo, along with a current one, are all that needs to be shown in your home at one time.

After all, the more things there are to see, the less the eye can truly appreciate. Prioritize your most precious pictures, and you will gain more enjoyment from them every day.

Linda Lawrence is the owner of HouseCalls for Redesign.


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