Today’s post launches a new category on the PepperJack blog, ‘Dear PJ’.  This will join the regular categories like  ‘Did you Know?’, ‘Inspiration’ and the others.

Like many designers, I’m greeted with repeat questions and design dilemmas as I work with different clients. ‘What do I do with this large built-in?’,  ‘What do I do with these tired oak cabinets?’, and ‘How do I keep my grandmother’s chair and update my home at the same time?’ are just a few of these.

Can you help me hang my family photos?‘ is the common question I’ll use to launch ‘Dear PJ’.  We all have cherished family pictures – baby, school shots, reunion pics, glamour shots, wedding photos — so many wedding baby photos!  Oh yes, and the Christmas card photos we hired that professional to shoot.  There is a temptation to create a visual shrine to ourselves with all of these.


Look familiar?

And it seems like we are gathering more and more family pictures because they are so easy to come by with our fancy digital cameras, smart phones and photo editing software.


Hmmmmm.  I still think this is not ideal, a no-no.  Yes, the children are lovely and lively, but ……..

I helped prepare for a holiday home tour recently.  The generous owners had yet to hang their art, would I help?  Of course!  On my scouting visit I found not art but a large collection of family portraits stacked against the wall — many of them very large, 24″x36″, 36″x36″ and larger.  All of babies, toddlers, then of school age children, individual shots, full family shots, school shots, sport shots, birthday party shots….you get the idea.

I asked to see their favorite paintings or artwork so I could create a wall vignette to complement the beautiful architecture and furnishings, no luck.  Their art was their family photos. A week later with another client, the same thing — all wedding and baby pictures.  Lovely and cherished to be sure, but difficult to create the ‘House Beautiful’ or ‘Traditional Home’ interior feeling these homeowners desired.

There are interesting and artful ways to hang our family memories and legacies, and some not so great ways.  To be sure there is never a right way or wrong way, but when my clients pay for my ask my professional opinion, here is what I tell them:  we love our children and our spouses dearly, and we see them everyday, do we really need huge 2’x3′ portraits, even 8″x10″, of them all over family room walls to remind us what they look like?  I want the rooms to inspire, to comfort, to transport.  I prefer large canvases of fine art and artifacts on the walls.  Family pictures are tucked in among books or keepsakes, flowers and a lovely lamp on a console or side table.


Adorable children, but not a big fan of decorating with glamor shots. Maybe in a Hollywood studio!


Here we go. Let our loved ones shine brightly as they meander along their day and throughout a space that is compelling, thoughtful and motivating.


This is perfection. Where are the cherished photos? Displayed very well in private and personal spaces no doubt.


Compelling artwork is displayed in the open spaces with personal images in intimate avenues.


This hallway invites pause, reflection and memories.

My clients may still insist on having family shots be the focus of their walls so I work hard to create artful interest with the display. (And still insist on fine art focal pieces in the major spaces.)


A side accent wall with carefully framed and arranged pictures can work well.


I think this works well too.  The display is the art, not the individual images.


A large board for pasting pics and a collage of daily life captured. Again, an artful display in an inspirational setting.

I’ll sign off with this family room image I captured from House Beautiful.


The space is inviting, comfortable and dressed in a way that shares a sense of the inhabitants.  I’m guessing they are interesting people and I’d love to be invited over for coffee.  This environment inspires me, it must inspire them as well.
– Laura

Inspiration is at the heart of my luxury design services. What’s inspiring you?   
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