Hopefully, you’ve already read Kate’s super informative post on 3 Simple Measurements to Help Hang Artwork with Bliss. If not, start there. Then it’s time to talk details.
There are 3 Simple Steps to Bring Bliss to your Walls with Personal Photographs & Children’s Art:
Step 1: Produce the Personal Artwork & Photographs
So, I’m starting at the very beginning, because if you are committed to filling your home with personal photographs and artwork (and I hope you are) there is much that can be done to increase the quality of those items to begin with.
I have two tricks to influence the production of children’s artwork (beyond art lessons;). First and foremost, whenever possible give children good quality materials to work with. It is much easier to end up with display-worthy art if your child is starts with good quality paper (or a canvas), and nice paints, colored pencils, or pastels. Think of quality materials as using the proper tools; you end up with a better product AND it just makes the whole experience of creating art more fun for your kids! The second thing you can do, if you’re really committed to styling your room with children’s art, is to steer your children to work with colors that coordinate with your decor. You might call this manipulation, but I’ll admit to sometimes doing it AND I think the pride children feel in seeing their art hung on the walls for years to come makes up for this mommy trick.
Producing better photographs … again aside from actually learning how to be a better photographer, which would of course be ideal, here are a couple of quick hacks that make for good display art. First, when photographing places (vacations perhaps?) consider looking for a theme. My husband likes “paths”; I can’t tell you of how many photos we have of paths – through forests, fields, and city streets. Other themes might be to look for trees, clouds, bridges, flowers, benches – get creative. Second, when photographing people (for me that usually means my kids), I find the photos that end up making the best “art” are those of my kids doing something. They might be surrounded by the landscape and they probably aren’t looking at the camera . . . to me these read more as “art” and less like a school portrait. And they’re a great way to show your favorite people and favorite places all wrapped up in one!
Step 2: Elevate the Personal Artwork & Photographs
There are 2 easy ways to elevate your personal photographs and children’s artwork and and they are super important!
First, enlarge it! Artwork may already be big enough, but if not, today’s technology means you can digitize an image to create any size you need to fill your space. Most decent photos can be blown up to 8×10 for a nominal cost. 11×14 is also great IF you have a sharp enough (focused) image. Just be sure to look at the cropping before you order, as the ratios vary considerably from 4×6 to 5×7 to 8×10 to 11×14. Often, the composition of the photograph I’m working with limits what size works well for it. But all else being equal, bigger is generally better if you plan to hang something on the wall. Smaller pieces sometimes get lost on a wall, but can look great on side tables or bookshelves when properly framed . . .
Second, frame it! This may seem obvious with photographs, but holds true for children’s artwork as well. Taping your kids best art on the fridge door works for their prolific doodles, but when she or he makes a masterpiece, why not treat it with all due respect? Even if produced on lowly copy paper (sometimes greatness happens most when you’re not expecting it), framing the work will improve the aesthetic AND more importantly, make your child beam with pride! There are even nifty frames available that make switching out the latest work a snap. And when framing, consider adding a matt. A simple white matt complements most pictures, and then allows you to increase the frame size for a bigger impact on your wall. And if framing sounds complicated for your real life, just keep it simple and mount the art on a piece of black construction paper. You will be amazed at how this simple trick elevates even the most humble art.
Step 3: Display the Personal Artwork & Photographs
Whew! Now that you have gallery-worthy pieces ready to go, it’s time to decorate! Here are 2 easy options to display children’s art and personal photographs.
Option 1) Mix your personal art and photos into a gallery wall!
Gallery walls are great fun for many reasons, and they are an excellent place to add some personal artwork and photos. Notice I said “some”. By mixing high and low end pieces together, the aesthetic becomes more about the look of the arrangement and less about the quality of each individual piece. (Trust me, your three year olds “abstract” painting will fair better when displayed as part of a whole grouping.) You can mix photographs, prints, paintings, typography, and mirrors all together if you simply have something to unify the arrangement … a repeating color scheme is ideal (remember my mommy trick?), but even frames in the same finish (they don’t need to match) can work.
Option 2) Cluster your personal art and photos together with a theme.
This brings us back to one of our photo tips, but even without something so obvious as “photographs of paths you’ve walked around the world”, clustering pieces in a theme can be a great way to display your personal artwork. These pieces might be hung “gallery style” or could be more symmetrical (a set of matching frames hung in a row). If you have lots of portrait style photographs, grouping them together on one wall is generally more interesting than dispersing them through every room. It’s fun to see how people change over time or to gauge family likenesses. Likewise, a whole wall of vacation photographs or family pets might be your happy place. (We have vacation photographs hung in our dining room to remind us of our fun family adventures.) And if you just can’t envision your little Picasso’s artwork hung next to the painting you splurged on, then maybe you just take one space to embrace imperfection and learning and hang all the children’s art on one wall. Just take care in the arrangement and it can look like a million bucks!
So, there you have it. No more excuses for bare walls! Just follow these 3 easy steps and you can bring personal bliss to your walls on any budget!
Tell us . . . what flavor of personal artwork dominates your walls? Are you happy with how it’s incorporated or do you see room for improvement?