I dread going to Mum’s house. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mum. She’s amazing. It’s her walls I don’t like. They are covered with pictures of me. Everywhere I go in the house, there’s me. Me as a baby. Me as a toddler. Me as a slightly older toddler. Me in my Communion dress. Me in my Confirmation dress. Me on holiday. Me as a teenager. Me in my wedding dress. I feel like I’m being stalked by my past self. Is your parental home like this? (Or have you just realised that your own home is like this?)
To be clear, pictures of your children and family are absolutely something you should have on your walls at home. Seeing the faces of your loved ones has such a positive impact on your wellbeing. All I’m saying is that, in addition to photographs of your family, there are many other things you can place on your walls that will make you feel good in your home.
Wall décor is one of the aspects of interior design that my clients find the hardest. So let’s look at some alternatives to family photographs as wall décor, as well as ways in which to make the family pictures you do hang up more impactful. While we’re at it, let’s also look at another concern you might have: how to hang your pictures.
Turn your interior walls into décor zones
When you’re looking for a place to hang your family photographs, here’s my suggestion. Dedicate a wall or single space to them. Cluster them together. Seeing all those loved faces in one place is a joyful experience. It will also be a place where you find yourself lingering and where fond memories are awakened.
But what about all the empty walls you’ve got left? Now that you’ve moved all your family pictures to one place, the rest of the house might feel a bit bare. It won’t be for long. Really, all you’ve done is create a series of blank canvases. And that’s a key point. See each wall as a separate opportunity, rather than one continuous empty space to be filled. Just as you now have a wall for family photographs, you can dedicate each blank wall to one particular thing.
When you think about it, a house is a collection of zones that you use for different aspects of your life. You can use that to guide you in your wall décor choices.
For instance, in your kitchen you can have food-inspired wall décor. An example would be tantalising pictures of food. Or, as we looked at in the last blog post, you could have a single statement piece in your hallway that brings you immediate joy when you walk in the door. Bathrooms and toilets are a great place to have quirkier pieces. I know of one house where the downstairs toilet is covered ceiling to floor with sheet music from operas.
That brings me neatly to the next important point.
Let your walls tell your story
Your walls are for more than just family photographs. They can be used to enhance your wellbeing by telling the story of you (Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash)
Often when I visit a house, the wall décor doesn’t tell me anything about the people who live there. Beyond the family photographs, there is very little that is personal to them. Often, I see generic photographs or mass-produced paintings. Things I’ve seen in many other houses. Sometimes even exactly the same picture.
Your walls are an opportunity to celebrate you and your interests. You don’t need to guess the hobby of the owner of the opera toilet—it’s right there on the walls. It’s a fantastic expression of something that brings them joy. It’s part of their personal story.
You can do the same with any wall in your house. When you’re looking to place something, make it something that is personal to you. Something that connects your interior design and décor to your personality and your life.
When you do start telling the story of you on the walls of your house, you’ll be surprised at how much more welcoming your home becomes—not just for your guests (though it will give them a good feeling too), but for you. Your house should be a place that is dedicated to you. After all, no other place will be… OK, with the possible exception of your parents’ house.
As a result, surrounded by the story of you and your interests, it will feel like more than just a house. It will feel even more like your home.
What to hang on your walls
First of all, there are no rules so you can’t do it wrong. Your décor is personal to you. Whatever you want to put up that makes you happy, that’s the way to go.
There is a huge scope of things you can hang on your walls. Roughly, they break down into two categories: pictures and objects.
Pictures can be photographs, paintings, prints, posters and more (some of which don’t even start with the letter ‘p’). I once saw the garage of someone who collects classic Porsche cars. His favourite motor event is the Le Mans 24-hour race. One wall of the garage was filled with Le Mans photographs, segments from a Le Mans graphic novel, promotional prints for the race and even a movie poster from a 1971 film called Le Mans.
Of course, you can also hang objects on your walls. Again, there are no limits. I saw a video once where someone had hung a Harley Davidson motorbike on the wall above their fireplace.
Race cars and motorbikes aren’t my thing, but I love that these homes are filled with what brings joy to the people who live there. And that’s what interior design and décor is all about.
How to hang pictures
Photo by Lefty Kasdaglis on Unsplash
Finally, a quick word about how to hang pictures, because I know many people struggle with this.
There are two aspects.
1—How to group pictures
There is a very simple answer to this: ‘Together’. Don’t worry about having all the pictures the same size, in the same frames and perfectly symmetrical. The easiest way to interpret this is to go for what is known as ‘gallery style’. That simply means hanging pictures together, regardless of size and frame. Higgledy piggledy. Try it. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but I’ve never seen a wall with pictures hung gallery-style that didn’t look fabulous.
Also, don’t be afraid to hang pictures lower or higher than your eye line. After all, everyone’s eye line is different and yours will change as you move about a space, stand or sit down. In fact, bear in mind that you spend most of your time sitting down in rooms.
2—How to attach pictures
Lots of people are nervous about damaging their walls when they hang pictures. That is completely understandable.
But thanks to modern technology, there are hanging systems that allow you to hang things without having to drive in a permanent hook.
There are products like Mixtiles that allow you to simply stick a picture frame to your walls. And if you want to move it, no problem, it pops right off, leaving not even a mark. Better still, you can stick the frame up somewhere else. The adhesive allows you to do so several times over.
There are wall hooks that work on the same principle. You can stick them on your wall, and remove them later without any damage whatsoever.
When you realise how easy it is to hang and rehang pictures, you’ll feel an enormous freedom to start putting up wall décor that is personal to you and fills you with joy. Your walls are pages you can write your story on. What’s your story?