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How to Display Framed Photographs on a Wall

In my next life, I want to be an interior designer. I love decorating and home decor, taking on projects, and helping others do the same.

Get some creative photo wall ideas, with tips for picture frame arrangement and what you'll need to get started.

Get some creative photo wall ideas, with tips for picture frame arrangement and what you'll need to get started.

A large gallery display of photographs is an attractive way to infuse any room with warmth and style.

Since I love taking pictures (especially of my daughters) and had a large unused wall, I wanted to create a striking photo display but wasn't sure exactly how to do it and achieve the effect I was looking for.

So, I did a whole bunch of research on the best ways to display photos on a wall and compiled what I learned here for the benefit of others, like me, who have lots of pictures just waiting to be hung on a big empty wall.

Basic Principles of Arranging a Photo Wall Display

It sounds simple: Just place your favorite pictures in frames of different sizes and shapes and hang them in a mosaic pattern. There are, however, some general guidelines that will help make your wall look especially beautiful.

  • Frames should hang at eye level (slightly above five feet from the floor). Hang them a little bit higher if you have high ceilings (or a very tall family).
  • Help the display come together by using similar photo styles (i.e. black-and-white or sepia), frames, or mat color. Don't be afraid to contrast. For example, if you're using all black-and-white photos, use frames of varying textures and sizes to add some pizzazz.
  • Some interesting but simple arrangements include diamond or rectangular shapes. You might want to choose one that will be easy to add to until you’ve formed an overall shape that works for you.
  • If you’re short on space, consider collage or multi-picture frames. With this type of frame, you're able to artfully display many photos in a small amount of space. Many options exist in this category and you can easily find both hanging and tabletop designs.
  • A great hanging kit can work wonders in helping to easily and efficiently complete your photo wall display!

What You'll Need

Before you start, you'll need the following:

  • Frames
  • Pictures
  • Hanging equipment (nails and a hammer, or hooks if you want to avoid marking up your wall)
  • Laser level or push pins and thread (for keeping the frames straight)
  • Paper and scissors (optional)
How to arrange photo frames on wall - do this first!

How to arrange photo frames on wall - do this first!

How to Start Creating the Photo Wall of Your Dreams

  1. Determine what kind of look you're going for—sleek, homey, whimsical, artsy, etc.
  2. Choose the pictures you want to feature. It might help to start out with more than you need and then narrow down based on space, mood, or fit.
  3. Before putting any nails in the wall, lay the frames on the ground and play with different arrangements to see how they'll look. Start at the center and work outwards. For example, if you're going for a rectangular look, choose your wall, then place three identical size frames in the center to establish a focal point. Then add rows, grouping pictures about 1–2 inches apart, to form a square or rectangle.
  4. Once you've found a shape you like, transfer it frame by frame to the wall.
  5. Another way to find an arrangement that is pleasing to the eye is to use paper outlines of the pieces you wish to hang; tape them to the wall to help visualize alternative arrangements and decide how you want to proceed (see video above).
  6. To hang straight rows of frames—always a timeless and sophisticated option—use string stretched between two pushpins as a guide. You can also choose to use a laser level to accomplish this. Make sure to use a level after hanging each frame to be sure each frame is straight before moving on to the next.
  7. Remember, multiple frames look best when arranged in a diamond, rectangular, or square shape. Also, they should be spaced relatively tightly:1–2 inches apart. A looser grouping can work for a more casual display.
  8. For stairwell displays, make sure you follow the upward angle of the steps. This can be made easier by using string and pushpins or a laser level.

You might want to have a wall-decoration-hanging buddy who can give you feedback on the design as it takes shape! As a bonus, they can also help you make sure everything is level.

wall-decor-photo-display
wall-decor-photo-display
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Read More From Dengarden

Creating a Dramatic Display: Hints for Heightening the Wow Factor of Your Photo Wall

Here are some tips for taking your design to the next level:

  • Choosing identical frame styles is a great way to make a powerful design statement. Matching frames, sizes, colors (of the pictures or frames), or textures is a way to play with symmetry and bring your display together.
  • Mix it up, using a combination of shadow boxes and framed works. A mixture of textures and patterns is always pleasing to the eye (when done in moderation).
  • Have a focal point in your display. Its center should be at eye level (66 inches off the ground is a good rule of thumb).
  • Instead of one big arrangement of photos, you could also create several groupings of smaller framed pictures that will complement your furniture and floor coverings.
  • Another option is producing the impression of a single dramatic image by framing similar pictures or pieces of art (like a series of abstract paintings) in similarly-sized frames and hanging them tightly together.
  • Wall color plays a big part in how photographs look. Take a hint from museums and use a contrast color to add drama.
  • Pictures and/or artwork don’t always have to be framed. You could hang unframed prints or pictures from a length of wire with clips for an unconventional display.
  • If you can't or don't want to hang pictures, you could opt for placing pictures on a ledge, spacing them evenly, and staggering frame heights. You could even overlap a couple of the frames.
  • Use frame risers to add depth to your display, bringing some photos forward off the wall.
  • People love stories. Line up framed pieces in chronological order to build a timeline of your growing child, a family vacation, or another important event, and let your visitors connect the dots.
  • If you need some more inspiration, this article from Pottery Barn has some nice frame layouts for you to consider.

Co-Design in Action

Carolyn (from the comments below) contacted me wanting some help creating a display of her daughter's wedding pictures for her stairwell. I gave her some tips and she created a draw-up, almost to scale, of the number and size of frames she wanted to use.

When she had trouble tweaking it, she emailed the drawings to me for help. I printed it out (it all fit on one page) and cut out all of the individual frames. Then I had some fun on my desk moving them around and creating several potential designs.

I photographed each one and emailed the pictures to her and she loved them. I repeated the process here so readers can see just how easy it is to play around with ideas until you figure out which one works for you.

You can see the pictures I sent to Carolyn below.

Good Luck!

I hope this was helpful! If you have any other questions, tips, or comments, say so below in the comments section.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: What would be the best display for 5x7 frames of 7 grandchildren?

Answer: A random grouping or a level, a straight row would probably be best, but it greatly depends on the space you’re trying to fill as well. There are several examples above in the article that you can look through to get ideas and inspiration.

Question: I have a long wall that my sofa is centered on. Some art is centered above my sofa. On each side, I have three feet. How do I fill those bare spaces?

Answer: What typically works for your situation are a few things: you can hang a nice sconce on each side, or break up space with a tall bookcase or even a floor lamp. If you have side tables next to that sofa, you can place a couple of tall table lamps on them, or a nice pot with tall flowers or a plant to somewhat fill that space. Remember, open space is often good, it gives the eyes a rest, and it doesn’t have to be the exact same thing on each side (unless it’s sconces, of course, as they should match). My favorite option is sconces if you’re able to do that. I hope that I’ve answered it with a solution for you.

Question: What would be the best way to display five framed 8x10's and two 4x6's on the wall?

Answer: It's hard to say without knowing things like what's around it and how large of a wall space is it; however, I feel like 4x6's are pretty small to be hanging on a wall so the best way to do so would be together with the larger frames on a floating shelf. There are a couple of examples above in the pictures with the blue background.

Question: My husband wants to hang 8x10 framed photos of each of our 3 daughter's school pictures going up our staircase. I am afraid it will look cluttered and overwhelming if I vary the frame styles. Do you have any suggestions for how to make this project look classic and composed? We have a very old house with a lot of golden brown oak woodwork, so a more formal look would be better.

Answer: 8x10 isn’t very big so I don’t think it’ll be too cluttered. As for the frames, if you want them to be different, which I thing would be nice, I would stick with the same frame color. You could also do the opposite and choose different coordinating colors but I’d keep the frame style the same. Hope this helps!

Question: Do you have any easy ideas on how to display many of 8x10 sports photos?

Answer: Take a look at the third thumbnail picture under "More Display Ideas for Your Wall!" - those are 8"x10" frames. Also, slightly above that, there's are some arrangement ideas with a blue background. The very bottom left picture is almost the same but with some spacing in between the frames. For your sports pictures, which are all the same size, I think this kind of arrangement would work best.

Question: I have a wall that measures 9'x9' and eight pictures that are 16"x20" each. How should I arrange my pictures on my wall?

Answer: For starters, I have to say that if there's a way to add another picture to your collection, it could be a much nicer composition. That being said, you should really check out the arrangements at the link provided in the article (https://www.potterybarn.com/tips-and-ideas/how-to-... If it must be eight pictures, take a look at the last arrangement example there, called "Centered." As all of the pictures are the same size, I would spread the outer three on each side evenly. You won't have a square, but if each side was a little higher and an equal amount lower than the center two, I believe you'd have a nice arrangement. Another option would be to do two rows of 4, evenly spaced.

Question: What is the best way to hang a picture that is 48' x 16" with 8x10's around it?

Answer: That will depend on a lot of things, actually. Is the 48 x 16 hanging horizontal or vertical? How many 8 x 10s? What does the wall look like - size?

Comments

Debbie on April 15, 2019:

I have a 16 x 20, 2 - 11 x 14, and 2 - 8 x 10 . The 16 x 20 has a mate with several openings for different size pictuers. not sure the wall measurements. they wiil be displayed in my dining room. Just trying to figure out the best lay out. any suggestions

Bronia on July 06, 2016:

Hello. Have you got a photo of the whole wall in the pic with the yellow wall? It looms so awesome i want to copy it.

Thanks

Lisa on July 08, 2015:

i love to take photograph but feel kind of cheesy hanging my pics in my house. I want to do a gallery wall in stairwell. I can do simile ear frames but some of the pics are color some are not. Some are landscapes, still life or of family. Can you mix all those successfully or do you have several groupings in other rooms.....keeping family together, black/white together and color together?

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on March 22, 2015:

Thank you all for your comments! Claudia, a cluttered wall of pictures can be wonderfully eclectic! Easy Exercise, thank you for the lovely compliment of my hub - so glad I could help! Kristen - you absolutely CAN mix art and photos! Go for it!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 08, 2015:

I love that idea of a photo wall. I wish I had more photos in my new apartment. Maybe it would work with artwork as well, right? Awesome hub. Voted up!

Kelly A Burnett from United States on March 08, 2015:

LilyRose,

This is on my list - perhaps near the top. I have a beautiful stairway and you have provided the cookbook guidance of how to get this done!

Also I have several vintage photos I have recently collected for the basement and have them on the floor wondering how to do this.

You have written the encyclopedia of how to for picture groupings. Will share out on Twitter and Pinterest both!

Five stars, voted up!

Claudia Mathews on March 01, 2015:

This will come in handy. I tend to see wall space and want to fill it and I end up with too many pictures cluttering every inch of wall. Thanks for sharing.

Goringe Accountants from London, UK on September 22, 2014:

This is always something that has bugged me in life. Thanks for some great ideas!

Tania S Lopez from Fayettevile, NC on September 17, 2014:

I love taking tons of pictures as well. My only fear is making my wall look too cluttered!! But after reading this , it makes me want to play with my pictures a little and see what I come up with!! Lol

Harneet from Foster City, CA on August 07, 2014:

wow great practical tips!

Emma from Houston TX on July 13, 2014:

I love decoration so much with pictures.pictures serves as reminders of the past.they help you remember the events that happened in your life

Deborah Sexton on June 24, 2014:

Great hub. Picturse can be hard to hang correctly. You have given some great frame display patterns.

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on March 12, 2014:

I've done this albeit on a much smaller scale!

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on January 13, 2014:

Thank you all!

Evan Smiley on January 04, 2014:

Thanks for the information! Awesome tips! I never know how to arrange photos!!!

FullOfLoveSites from United States on October 07, 2013:

What a great idea, Lily! For this I also plan to print my Instagram photos and put them in the way you did. Thanks for sharing! :)

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on August 05, 2013:

Great article and wonderful tips on displaying photographs on walls. I thought your images were wonderful. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on August 05, 2013:

Great job explaining this. I love the way you decorated your own wall, as well as the juxtaposition and the simple lines. This comes in handy as I plan to print many of the photos I took and put them into frames. Will be bookmarking and sharing!

Lisa from WA on July 19, 2013:

Great tips and ideas! I've been trying to figure out how to display some of my pictures in my new place and I will definitely be referring back to this for some inspiration.

Tony Sky from London UK on July 16, 2013:

Thanks for this information and good ideas I never thought I needed!!

Better Yourself from North Carolina on July 15, 2013:

Great hub! I love the idea of the frames going up the staircase but staggered and touching each other - haven't seen it like this before and love it!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on April 21, 2013:

Very informative and creative as well. I love your tips above. Thanks for writing and sharing with us. Up and useful :-)

Prasetio

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on April 21, 2013:

Kari,

I know my response is quite late but for some reason I didn't get a notification of your message, at least I don't recall getting one. Well, to answer your question, I don't know for sure the frame sizes, but I would venture a guess that there is a mix there of 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14 or even 12x16s.

Julie on March 03, 2013:

With a freshly painted stairwell painted in a metallic bronze statue color just like someone had posted in a picture to Pinterest, my husband and I have now shifted our attention to creating a display of photos on that wall. The wall still lies barren, because this is a fairly intimidating step--at least for two people as OCD as my husband and I. Everything has to be perfect, and, you can imagine, I expect measuring alone to take us hours upon hours. Thanks for the great hub and tips!

Kari on February 20, 2013:

Hi, I was wondering if you knew the sizes of the frames on the graphic rectangular photo display. So cool! But I wish I knew the sizes. Could you respond to Kascokb@gmail.com?! Thank you!!

HelpfulHints12121 on December 13, 2012:

Great ideas, presented really well. A good mounting system for lots of photos in a large display is called versaframe. It's a simple product that lets you design your own displays at versaframe.com. Thanks for the tips Lily!

Norpro Webstore on December 06, 2012:

Nice Looking Ideas for photo. I want to share this on my site norprowebsstore.com. How Can I share this.

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on August 28, 2012:

Tara - Somehow your comment/questions slipped through the cracks. I don't know if you'll be back to check but I wanted to answer your question - Yes, you can absolutely mix in canvases with frames. If you take a look at the first image at the beginning up above it shows my photo wall and I have two black & white canvases anchoring each end of the arangement. The canvases can be located anywhere in the arrangement.

fotoviva from Swansea on July 20, 2012:

Hi Lily, just wanted to say thanks for such a detailed article on how you can hang your wall art. I'm a fan of the random, unordered look myself - it has a charm that structured prints cannot match.

Tara on July 05, 2012:

I love your Hub! I'm taking down a large mirror in our living room and turning it into a Photo Wall. You've given many good visuals to share with my husband. We are going to do white frames with both pics of family and nature. My question...can we mix white frames and color canvas prints? My mom just gave us a large color canvas of our wedding day. I'd like to add that in with the other frames. Would this look good? Would it be best to have two canvases and then the frames...to create a more balanced look? Thanks for your suggestions!

Happy Trekker on December 25, 2011:

Hi Lily Rose. You might suppose that I love the outdoors more than my relatives, therefore my photo collection of the former is quite substantial. My single-story home has no stairways, but 10 and 11 foot walls. So rather than arranging picture frames of relatives, I'm thinking about attaching rectangular, fabric-covered frames to the walls with photo collages of the great outdoors.

My problem is figuring out where to start. A few pointers from experts on photo collages and displaying nature rather faces would be quite helpful.

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on December 04, 2011:

Yes, Karry! If you look at the set of pictures at the top of this hub, the 1st, 3rd, and 6th pictures all include black and white pictures combined with color photos. Make the arrangement cohesive with frames that are alike, or at least similar. The 3rd picture (in the first set at the top) looks as if the frames are all different, but if you look carefully they all have gold, wheather the frame color or trim, and that makes them cohesive. Best of luck with your arrangement and thanks for visiting and the question.

Karry on December 02, 2011:

I have a Q can I display a mix of monocromatic and colored pics on the wall.

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on November 13, 2011:

Ruth, thank you for your comment - I'm happy to hear that you stumbled upon my hub! There are definitely lots of options for photo displays even on a budget. I love your idea of actually having your photographs spell something out. There's also photo pockets that are inexpensive (there's a link up above under "Collage Photo Displays:"). Also, photojojo.com has some cool magnetic cords for displaying pictures and more great stuff.

Good luck and thank you for your comment!

Ruth on November 11, 2011:

Hey Lily , I googled and clicked i'm feeling lucky and stumbled apon this blog , i read all your idea's and i think you put in so much effort , it's a really good read and ot my mind going , unfortunatley , i'm sixteen and most of the concepts and designs incorporated frames and or different size photos , which as i student is above my buget , i was looking for more of a cool layout for my 6x4 photos, i'm thinking of going for the word L I F E across my purple wall , the letters being made up of photots , i'm posting to let you know that i think your idea's are great and that the effort you made is great 1

RSVP,

Ruth , Ireland

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on September 29, 2011:

I consider myself to be a very detail oriented person, so I truly appreciate that comment, Vidhya!

Vidhya on September 29, 2011:

Lovely ideas with a lot of attention to detail. Keep it up!

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on September 29, 2011:

Mike - thank you for your great comment. I certainly would love to include pictures from readers and I have and do urge anyone to contact me to forward pictures for inclusion into my hub! Actually, perhaps I'll do a little editing and add a section even if it stays blank for now...

Mike on September 29, 2011:

Hi Lily - great site and lots of Ideas, with lots of comments from people with lots of pictures.. It would be nice to hear and see what they have done too. Could you add a section of pictures from readers.. would be fun to see how they have worked on their wall :}

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on July 26, 2011:

That sounds fantastic Kimmy! The inspiration photo you mention is actually my own family photo wall and I love it. Sounds like you're off to a great start with all your photos. I'm very happy to hear that I helped you get started! I'd love to see photos of what you did...

Kimmy on July 24, 2011:

Extremely happy to have finally displayed some family photo's on the landing in our house. I went for a similar look as your first photo wall, in a diamond shape and incorporating brown and slightly goldish frames. I now have my greatgrandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter all as 'young women' along with a few other precious photos. So thank you for helping me get started on this addiction .... going to do a more modern black and white display somewhere else in the house :)

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on July 24, 2011:

Hi Jennie - First of all I would say to make copies of your photos, don't use originals (unless you have them digitally stored and can reproduce at any time) - not because they'll get ruined for sure, but it's best to be safe.

To protect your photos from wear you can do a couple of things. You can mat them (make your own simple mat - thin or thick - out of cardstock or construction paper and tape the photo to the back side) and then clip the mat rather than the photo itself. Or if you're going to clip the photo itself you can line the inside edge of the clip with a small piece of felt or any other soft material to protect the photo. Definitely hang the photos in a location where the sun does not directly hit them or they will fade quickly with no protection from a frame.

I love this wire hanging system from Photojojo (a favorite site of mine): http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/magnetic-ph...

Check out this cool idea also at Photojojo: http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/fotoclips/

Peruse their whole store - they have some great stuff!

I hope this helps answer your question. Good luck!

Jennie on July 21, 2011:

In this:

"Pictures or art don’t always have to be framed. An unconventional display could be to hang unframed prints or pictures from a length of wire with clips."

I want to try hanging pictures from the wire with clips, but I am worried about them wearing.

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on July 20, 2011:

Jennie,

Thank you for your question ... I would love to help you but unfortunately I must ask you for clarification. I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Are you hanging picture FRAMES from a wire? Is it a trapeze-type display or do you mean the frame has a wire across the back for hanging? Type of finish on the frame? Are you painting the frames or are you asking about the finish of something else? I'm sorry to ask so many questions; I'm trying to understand what you are asking me because I'm a bit confused, sorry...

Jennie on July 20, 2011:

If I were to hang photos from a wire, what sort of finish would I do on them in order for them not to wear or tatter?

Lily Rose (author) from A Coast on July 13, 2011:

Hi Donna - Well, I'm having a difficult time picturing what you are explaining about accenting an arrangement with this...In general, a picture over a doorway is not the best placement because it's too difficult to see. There are exceptions to hanging pictures not at eye level, but I'm not sure above a doorway is one of them.

In my opinion, the only thing that you can get away with is a painting/print over a doorway because that type of artwork doesn't have the details that one needs to see like in a photograph. Also, artwork should only be hung over a doorway when you have tall ceilings and there's plenty of space above the doorway (at least a couple of feet or more). I hope this helps!

Donna on July 12, 2011:

Thanks for your website. What are your views about putting a large framed photo over the doorway to accent arrangement on the connecting wall?