Tips to Display Family Photos

Now that I’m a mom, I have about 34,043 photos of Rory on my phone and the girl is only six months old. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but still, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t snap a picture of her. But here’s the thing – most of those adorable photos are just hanging out in my camera roll. The photos of those sweet smiles, those innocent eyes, and those chunky cheeks are hidden away in my phone.Frames in my home office

And that’s because I just haven’t done much work around here to display family photos. I had picture ledges in our old condo (from IKEA or you can DIY them here) where I would swap out the photos on a regular basis. In this house, I haven’t gotten around to adding too many personal photos and that’s something I want to work on once our kitchen renovation is over.Photos of Rory

To give me the kick in the pants I need, I thought it would be a good idea to do a blog post with some creative ideas to display family photos. I’ll be taking mental notes about the ideas I want to incorporate into our own home. But before we get to those, let me talk about the one way that I don’t want to display family photos.

The Dresser with 5,000 Frames

Rookie mistake of using too many picture frames

I actually did a rookie mistake blog post about this a few years back but figured it was worth mentioning here. I think it’s amazing to show off the favorite people in your life. However, rows and rows of picture frames stuffed onto a dresser is not the best way to do it. Big frames in front of small frames, mismatched sizes all jumbled together, and so many picture frames that you can barely see the table…it’s not my favorite look in the world. Not to mention, those consoles and dressers lose all of their function because you’re worried about knocking over a frame!

Instead, let’s take a look at these other ideas…

Symmetrical Gallery WallGallery wall

This blog post that I did a few years back in my mom’s condo is still incredibly popular! And I think it’s because this is such a great way to make a blank wall in your home feel special without spending too much money. Michaels still sells these super inexpensive black frames (the mats come with) and my mom just prints 8×10 black and white photos to swap in and out.

Her wall features all of her favorite people (her kids and grandkids) and she is constantly updating it with new photos. I love coming over to her place and seeing if she has made any changes! For a symmetrical gallery wall like this, I think you can either go all black and white or all color photos. I probably wouldn’t mix and match.

Asymmetrical Gallery Wall

Adding black frames over a dresser

Remember my sister’s new bathroom and guest bedroom? Well, she also has a gorgeous gallery wall in her bedroom over her dresser. Similar to my mom’s, she has all black and white photos of her favorite people. I like the various sizes she uses and she follows my method of keeping frames 2-3 inches apart to make it look like one cohesive statement piece. These are the frames she used and it’s kinda nice because they come in a big set.

Cohesive Frames on a Mantlefeminine city condo

Apparently, Janimal brings her A-game when it comes time to display family photos because lots of these examples are at her house! On her fireplace mantle, she has different sizes of these black frames leaning. Each family gets their own frame and again, she is always swapping them out with fresh pictures every few months. I think layering frames like this is a fantastic idea and the fact that these aren’t hung makes it even easier to swap out your photographs.

Layered on ShelvesWhite built-ins in a family room

Jan also displays family photos throughout her gorgeous white built-ins. You won’t find tons and tons of frames littering her shelves, but instead, they are dispersed nicely throughout. She also uses all different kinds of frames here with a color palette of black and gold. A few frames are propped up with books to give them more height and some are leaning on the back of shelves to create depth.

Our office built-inshow to style wood shelvesI do the same on the built-ins in our office and on the wood shelves in Finn’s office space.

On Your NightstandTips to display family photos

I used to have a cute styled nightstand and then Rory came along. In those early days, my nightstand was overflowing with my breast pump, extra spit rags, bibs, and bottles. Once she was out of our room and sleeping through the night, I removed everything off of my nightstand because I was craving a clean surface in there. Now, I’m slowly warming up to the idea of styling our bedroom. In fact, I think our bedroom will be the first task on my to-do list for 2021! Tips to display family photos

Nightstands are a wonderful spot to display special family photos and memories. I mean, who doesn’t want to wake up in the morning and be reminded of a magical time or a person they love?! Tips to display family photos

For these spots, I recommend a taller frame, putting a small frame on a stack of books, or hanging a large frame over each nightstand to make more of a statement.

Stacked Vertically

Tips to display family photos

I did manage to add a few family photos to our bedroom last month. I had a gift card to Artifact Uprising and I used it to have these photos framed to add to this blank wall. If you don’t have a huge space to display a large gallery wall, then finding a small slice of the wall and creating a vertical stack of  two or three frames is a welcome idea! Tips to display family photos in your homeI went with wood frames and black and white photos and it adds a chic touch to our bedroom space.

Hallway Gallery Wall

Tips to display family photos in your homePhoto via Nicole Davis Interiors

Okay, so this is the idea that I’m contemplating for our upstairs hallway. I want to do a floor to ceiling gallery wall full of family photos. I would probably make it all black and white and incorporate all kinds of pictures – photos of our grandparents, Rory, our friends, our travels, old family photos, etc. It would be like walking through our lives as you walk down the hallway. Stay tuned and I will let you know if I add that to our blank upstairs hallway.

Other Tips for Art & FramesOur new living room galleryw all

I’ve written many posts over the years with tips to frame and display photos and art around your home. Here are a few that might help as you figure out how you want to display family photos in your space…

I’m now more determined than ever to actually print some of those cute photos I have saved in my phone! Want to join me?


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.