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Metro Detroit

March 12, 2014

Local designers offer tips on displaying photographs

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

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A gallery display of family portraits can be an option when hanging photos.

A newborn baby, a couple “just married,” an amazing vacation and a young child catching a first fish with grandpa are all special moments documented through the clicks of a camera.

These sentimental photographs are forever keepsakes, but it can be a challenge when deciding where to display them so that they are most visible inside the home.

Veronica Simmons, owner of the Wixom franchise Decorating Den Interiors, recommends hanging these moments in time in an area with a lot of traffic, primarily in a hallway or leading up a staircase.

It used to be more common to hang the family portrait over the fireplace or prominently in the family room. In recent years, the collage display has become a popular trend in which a group of framed photos decorate a space in an organized fashion. A typical collage could include two 8-inch by 10-inch frames, two 5-inch by 7-inch frames, and several frames measuring 4-inches by 6-inches to accent the larger photographs.

“The size of the space kind of drives how many pictures you can put in that collage,” Simmons said. “I don’t like to see a collage where every (picture) is the same size. Your eye doesn’t know where to focus. You want to play around with your size. Leave adequate space between photos. The larger the space, the more space between pictures.”

Bookshelves also provide an ideal spot for your best memories. Simmons’ clients who opt for a more modern look generally select picture holders that are the same color and style. Homeowners with more traditional tastes choose to mix frames of black, white and pewter.

Another option to display pictures is to set up a photo table inside the home.

“Generally, they are mix and match,” said Mari Margaret, of the design building firm Borchert Kitchen and Bath in Washington Township. “It’s the great-grandparents, wedding, the kids, baptisms, baby photos and family vacations. That’s what makes the table more interesting. People will take time to look through the photos.”

Margaret said a display table is a throwback to the 1920s and 1930s, the days in which people spent time in a parlor or sitting room. If there’s enough space, Margaret suggests placing a photo album on the photo table next to the framed pictures.

“Not a big, giant one,” she said. “The 5 by 7 — those are great.”

Another challenge is determining which photographs to display out of hundreds that have been taken.

“That’s the funky and fun part,” Simmons said, adding that photos can be changed on a rotating basis. “Change them out by the season.”

Using different tablecloths each time photos are changed can give the area a fresh look.

And not every image needs to be one where the subjects are smiling while looking directly at the camera. 

“The ones that are most compelling draw your eye,” Margaret said. “They can be just as interesting.”

One such photo is from Margaret’s personal collection. It’s a shot of her daughter from the back when she was about 2. The toddler’s head was bent down while she played, and the camera snapped just her pigtails, capturing a childhood moment frozen in time.

Black-and-white images can be another alternative.

“Sometimes, that makes a picture pop just as much,” Margaret said.

Frames can be costly, so budgeting is necessary. Also make sure to use nails or hanging fixtures that are sturdy enough to hold the weight.

“Use the appropriate size,” Simmons said. “Check the weight and size.”

Before a photograph is framed, Simmons and Margaret advise writing the date the picture was taken on the back, as well as the names of those in the photo. Remember to use ink that won’t bleed through the picture.

“It’s great for record-keeping,” Simmons said.

“We think we can trust our memory,” Margaret said. “When these pictures are passed on, it’s nice to have the info there.”

Borchert Kitchen and Bath is located at 58459 Van Dyke in Washington Township. For more information, visit www.borchertbuilding.com or call (586) 992-8400.

Decorating Den Interiors is a nationwide company, and Veronica Simmons is the regional manager for southeast Michigan. The Wixom location’s address is 28704 Wall St. For more information, visit www.thesimmonsteam.decoratingden.com or call (248) 596-0300.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.