A GUIDE TO WALL ART the Ars Magna Guide to decorating with family portraits


Your house, loft, studio apartment, or where ever you are currently nested, reflects your personal style. It should be filled with the things that make you happy. It is your space and should tell your story.

Want to create an inviting and intimate space that communicates the love in your family?

Yes, we thought so - Images of family and friends add warmth and personalize a home. Family portraits don’t have to be kept in private. But your walls don't need to be entirely family portraits either. Incorporate different types of art into the mix. Showcase the love and the personalities and the adventures of your family through what you choose to display.

Family portraits add character and display lifelong memories of you and your loved ones. When you see your images of family and friends you feel and know your place within the larger community. Integrate those photographs with the art and objects you’ve collected, poems that you've written, legacy artwork you’ve inherited, and beautiful keepsakes from your travels.

How? Start with a plan.



There's not need to assemble everything all at once. Collections take time. Be patient and take pleasure in choosing, framing and placing your pieces. Take time to layer and connect your photographs with the rest of your decor


Have two floors? A staircase is a wonderful place to hang family photos because it's a space that people walk past regularly. Like hallways, stairs are great places to create a gallery wall with multiple framed images. You can do chronological order. Or not.

Use a long hallway to create a beautiful gallery wall that shows your milestones and adventuring. From a design standpoint, map out the gallery wall by either laying everything on the ground to get the right mixture of vertical/horizontal prints, sizing and spacing.


Depending on the layout of the room, you can incorporate a gallery wall, building on other family artwork, or use the space on a sofa table or over a mantle to feature a favorite image among your collection of treasured objects.

A no hanging required way to integrate multiple small framed photographs layered in with other decor and objects.


The eating area in a kitchen is an option. Family portraits in the kitchen can reinforce ideas of gathering together and/or show places where you've share favorite meals.

One of our favorite ideas for the kitchen is to use acrylic frames. Easy to clean and ok to bump too.


Whether a two story foyer, or a small wall, this is the first place you see when you enter your home. A tone is set.


Bedroom walls are a great place to fun and expressive artwork. Of course, there are no rules but it's a good idea to be mindful of mood. Happy and playful? Romantic? Dreamy?

Children love to see images of people and pets they know.



It all starts with a plan. And since it's your home, it's your call. Do you prefer salon style over gallery style? Clustering framed prints on picture ledges? Organizing a giant gallery wall? Know where you want to hang it? Great! Now, what size? In color? Black and white? Mounted or framed?


Size and placement go hand in hand. One giant print and done? Or smaller images salon style?

Our opinion? You probably can go larger than you think.

Work with a pro to map out the layout. Determine the spacing in between the frames and placement on walls.


We are big fans of color - if it's in harmony with existing decor. If you have a large mix of images from different sessions and seasons, opting for black and white can keep a unified feel.


Our favorite resources for printing?

Our own lab, which you can do through us.

W also recommend mpix.com for online ordering of your own images.


Lucky you! Framing an individual piece, creating a gallery wall with varying sized frames OR multiples of the same frame means you get to go frame shopping.

Frames should flatter the image, and keep in consistency with your decor. Baroque carvings? Sleek and minimalist? Natural materials? Gilded?See how different the same image look with different framing options?

We recommend local framers like Framers Workshop. Chains like Michael's and Blick have decent selections and often have sales. If you prefer to shop online, Framebridge makes it easy to visualize what you are buying.


Know your walls and be gentle with them. Which hardware to use depends on the weight of the artwork and the type of wall.

Does a push pin go easily into the wall? It's drywall. For heavy pictures on drywall, you'll want to secure the hardware to wall studs when possible.

Brick and masonry walls require a drill with a special masonry bit and screws.

Remember that when the artwork is hanging, the top of the frame will sit above the hardware. Make sure you measure from the top of the frame to the hardware on the back of the artwork.

Go ahead and hire a professional to install larger/heavier frames.


  • Kraft Paper
  • Stud finder
  • Measuring tape
  • Level/laser level
  • Picture hangers and/or screws w/ anchors (for heavier pieces)
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Picture bumpers (for backside of frames so that they do not scratch walls)


Stuck in the dreaming and are ready start doing? A design professional can help with placement, layout, choosing frames sizes and colors and get it done already.


Proportions are Everything

  • A grouping of images should be treated as one whole and measured as one piece.
  • Mid point of artwork/grouping should be about 58-60” above the floor.
  • For gallery walls, leave 1”-2” in between each frame so the individual pieces become part of a collection
  • Above couch - 8-10” above back of the couch
  • Above bed - 8-10” above headboard
  • Above mantle/fireplace - 3-6” above. Frames can also be leaning.
  • Above crib - at least 16" above crib railing (canvas, not glass)

Let's start adding to your family story today.




Created with images by Rhema Kallianpur - "untitled image" • Grovemade - "Interior decor with plants" • Crew - "Wood table in front of white wall" • Alesia Kazantceva - "The interior" • Halfpoint - "Photos on a table" • LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS - "rear view of senior husband and wife hanging picture on wall over the fireplace" • diego cervo - "man and woman doing diy work at home"

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