7 tips for turning treasured photos into works of art
By Gabrielle Fagan
Let’s face it, staring at the same bland four walls every day when you’re holed up at home can really dampen the spirits. So why not wake them up a bit, by displaying some photos and art?
This could be the perfect way to showcase your favourite images (and create an impressive backdrop for all those Zoom and Houseparty sessions), plus it’ll help keep the space fresh and interesting during self-isolation.
You might not have a Picasso hidden away in the loft, or a stash of prints to hand. But you probably have got loads of brilliant photos stored on your laptop and phone that you could simply print off and frame, or have professionally transformed into works of art.
Wondering where to begin? Here, Clare Moreton, from bespoke photo wall art specialists CEWE Photoworld, shares seven top tips on how to use images to transform your home…
1. Mix and match
“Get creative by designing a gallery wall that’s eclectic, with a mix of styles, sizes and types of print that will transform any room into a bright, eye-catching space,” says Moreton. “Combine framed photos with typographic prints, currently so on-trend, and maybe art deco-style canvases.
“Avoid a bland and rigid approach,” she adds, “this should be free-flow to suit your taste, so use a mixture of colours and patterns.”
PICTURE THIS: There are no hard-and-fast rules on creating the perfect design. But to give the arrangement cohesion and focus, place your largest item in a central position first, and then add smaller items around it.
By all means, use a spirit level to make sure pictures are level, but in the end trust your eye: dado rails and ceilings, especially in older properties, are not always level.
2. Lean on me
“There’s no reason to think you need to hang all of your artwork in order for it to look great on display,” says Moreton.
“It may not be possible anyway, if you live in a rented property and there are restrictions on what you can do. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a gallery.
“Make the most of your fireplace, units and shelves by simply stacking and leaning your prints and framed photographs on them. It’s an arty and simple way to introduce colour and design to your home and you can simply refresh the look by introducing new pieces whenever you want.”
PICTURE THIS: Choose frames carefully and it will pay dividends visually. They don’t have to be pricey – you can paint old frames with spray paint or chalk paint to get the look you want.
3. Natural perspective
“If you’re craving the great outdoors in these difficult times, and who isn’t, create a corner in your room inspired by the natural world,” suggests Moreton.
“Vertical and horizontal panoramic canvases are a modern and versatile way to introduce colour and style into difficult-to-fill spaces. A mix of close-ups and views will add interest, but keep to a colour theme for the most striking display.”
PICTURE THIS: Don’t hang works of art too high on the wall – a common mistake. The ideal height of the centre of a picture (if there’s no furniture below it) is between about 155-160cm off the ground.’
4. Seeing double
“There is nothing more stylish and classic than a symmetrical gallery wall,” Moreton enthuses. “Interior decorators often double up – on everything from a pair of chairs or end tables to two floor lamps, on either side of a fireplace or bed. It essentially creates two matching halves and adds up to one visually appealing room.
“To really make your symmetrical gallery wall stand out, choose images that share a common colour theme. Monochrome or sepia always work well,” she suggests.
PICTURE THIS: Choose prints in identical sizes and in matching frames, hang symmetrically and keep an equal amount of space between each photo (around two inches) for a chic and modern take.
5. Stop and stair!
“Choosing a common theme across your displayed artwork can really help to bring the whole wall together,” Moreton points out.
“It’s also a great way to showcase your unique style and bring focus to something you’re passionate about. It can be anything from nautical paintings for a fresh seaside theme, or a display of photos of your pets alongside prints with your favourite inspirational quotes.”
PICTURE THIS: An arrangement of prints is an easy way to enliven a neglected corner, like a landing or along a stairway. Do bear in mind that if there’s a lot of traffic up and down stairs though, especially children, picture fixings should be secure. It may be necessary to anchor either side of the back of the frame.
6. Look back in time
“If you have old albums of family photos, this could be the perfect time to sort them out, get them copied and create a montage of your family ‘through the ages’,” says Moreton.
“These photos are special and will evoke a positive emotional response when you see them, putting a smile on your face and allowing you to reminisce over wonderful memories each day.”
PICTURE THIS: Curate images so that you follow a theme, which could be baby pictures from each generation grouped into one frame, or family groups in another.
Alternatively, follow one family member’s pictorial story in a set of single frames. If you’re really creative, insert sections of hand-written letters from family members appropriate to the era between the photos, to further evoke the time.
7. Window on the world
“It’s got to be armchair travel only for the moment. But displaying photos of your holidays and journeys, whether here or in faraway places, will remind you of happy times and is a truly personal way to decorate a wall,” says Moreton.
PICTURE THIS: Experiment with different styles, textures and tones to bring photos to life. If you’re grouping your own family shots consider placing a professionally shot image of the location you’ve visited at the centre of the arrangement or frame a map of the area to add interest.