Portraits allow you to literally put a face to the personalities and stories of your life. They can infuse warmth, nostalgia, and character into any space when used thoughtfully in interior design and decor.
Whether it’s paintings, prints, or photography, portraits provide an opportunity to embellish your home with custom details that reflect your style, interests, and loved ones. Get inspired with these creative ideas for decoratively displaying portraits throughout your home or office.
Hanging Multiple Portraits in Groupings
One trendy way to decorate with portraits is to hang them in cohesive groups rather than sporadically. Arrange similar sized portraits together in geometric patterns or clustered frames for a bold and modern gallery wall.
When grouping various portraits, make sure they share a common theme or color palette. For example, collect portraits of family members, travel destinations, musical artists, pets, children’s artwork, or fashion icons. Stylize the arrangement based on the overarching theme.
Sometimes, even grouping portraits of seemingly random subjects can work. The key is to unify the display through consistent framing and positioning on the wall. Also consider hanging portraits at slightly different heights and angles to add interest.
Using Portraits as Statement Art Above Furniture
Portraits make excellent statement pieces in living rooms, bedrooms, and offices when hung above mantles, couches, dressers, desks, or beds.
Oversized, prominent portraits create visual anchors in a room and quickly convey your interests through the artwork’s subject. For instance, hang a portrait featuring a beloved pet or child above a living room sofa to add personality to the space.
Just be sure the portrait’s scale suits the wall space – a small photo will get dwarfed above an expansive couch, while an enormous painting may overwhelm a petite accent wall. Carefully measure and evaluate the piece’s size before hanging.
Incorporating Family Photos Into Décor
Personal photos of loved ones add warmth and familial connections to a home. Intersperse framed photos of family vacations, holidays, weddings, and milestone events throughout bookshelves, side tables, console tables, and walls.
Some creative ways to display family photos include:
- Arranging a symmetrical photo grid over a sofa or bed
- Creating a gallery wall with a mix of family portraits and other artwork
- Displaying photos in matching or themed frames
- Incorporating photos into a collage with other decorative elements like maps, albums, and memorabilia
- Placing photos on bookshelves, end tables, mantles, and window sills at different angles
Intermixing family photography with other decorative accents makes the photos feel like natural elements of the room rather than stiff, standalone frames.
Commissioning Custom Artwork
For a personal touch, commission custom painted or drawn portraits to feature family members, pets, your home, and meaningful places or moments. Hire an artist or photographer to capture special subjects according to your vision.
Some ideas for custom portraits include:
- A painting of your children
- A drawing of your wedding day
- A fun caricature of your family
- An illustrated portrait of your home or street
- A painting of your pet
Work with the artist on sizing, medium, coloring, and level of realism or abstraction. Then, frame the finished commissioned piece and display it prominently, knowing the art is truly one-of-a-kind.
Using Portraits in an Accent Wall Installation
Turn a blank accent wall into the focal point of a room with an innovative portrait installation or gallery-style arrangement. Some accent wall ideas include:
Cover the wall in a colorful collage of portrait photography turned into removable wallpaper. This creates a bold, lively feature wall. Stick with uniform prints or opt for an eclectic mix of portraits.
Hang framed family photos, art prints, or paintings in a scattered arrangement across the wall with ample space between each. The floating effect keeps the cluster airy yet impactful.
Grid or Geometric Patterns
Use uniformly-sized and framed portraits to create a geometric feature wall. Arrange the grids, lines, or circles of portraits meticulously for a polished look. Black and white portraits make the sharpest impact.
Mixed Media Collage
Make a DIY portrait collage on an accent wall using a combination of framed photos, cut-outs from magazines or albums, memorabilia, string lights, and other embellishments. Fuse portraits with words, color patches, wallpaper, or botanical elements for lots of texture.
Incorporating Portraits Into Shelving Displays
Shelves provide ample opportunity to insert portraits into your décor creatively.
On bookshelves, lean framed photos against vertically stacked books or place portraits laying horizontally across a row of books. Go for symmetry or clusters to pull the shelves together.
For open shelving or glass cabinet displays in dining rooms, situate portraits between dishes, vases, and decor. Make sure the scale suits the shelves – oversized portraits will overwhelm delicate glassware.
Use portraits of ancestors, children, grandparents or historical figures to dress up formal libraries or studies. Position prominently on central shelves flanked by collections of antique, leather-bound books.
Using Mirrors and Portraits Together
An eye-catching way to display portraits is to hang a large mirror on a wall above a console, dresser, or mantle. Then, artfully arrange portraits of varying sizes and frames on the furniture below to reflect in the mirror.
The double image in the mirror adds depth and dimension to the display. Gather round or oval mirrors that can accentuate the portraits’ shapes, like sunbursts or medallions.
Try tilting paintings outward at angles or leaning photos on books for a dynamic look reflected in the mirror. Make sure portraits don’t block the mirror’s key focal points.
Framing Family Portraits for Gifting
Framed family portraits make heartfelt gifts for grandparents, parents, and relatives. Choose a favorite photo featuring key family members and select a high-quality frame that suits the recipient’s home aesthetic.
Some framing tips:
- Opt for simple, classic frames without overly ornate moulding that draws attention away from the photo. Let the subjects take center stage.
- Match color tones between the frame and photo. For black-and-white photos, pick a frame in a metallic tone like silver, pewter, or gold for contrast.
- Frames with double mats can beautifully accentuate the photo, but steer clear of flashy embellishments and loud colors.
- Keep the glass clean and smudge-free for clarity.
- Attach a thoughtful note to the back expressing your sentiments about the family photo to make the gift more meaningful.
Using Portraits in Children’s Rooms
Portraits allow you to customize a child’s room with subjects they love. For a playful look, decorate with:
- Framed artwork or paintings of cartoon characters
- Caricatures or sketches of the child and their hobbies
- Framed posters of sports heroes, ballerinas, astronauts, etc. that align with their interests
- Word art or collages spelling out the child’s name in fun letters and colors
- A collection of school portraits documenting the child’s growth over the years
Group multiple portraits over a bed, above a dresser, or on a designated gallery wall. Switch them out periodically as the child’s tastes evolve.
Hanging Portraits in Entryways
Use an entryway or foyer as a quick snapshot of your life and interests by decorating the walls with various portraits. For instance:
- Hang a large wedding photo as the main focal point to greet guests with images of family and celebration.
- Display a collection of vacation photos from favorite destinations to showcase your travel bug.
- Create a gallery wall with a mix of family portraits, pet photos, artwork, and inspirational quotes or phrases.
The entryway sets the tone for the rest of the home. Use portraits here to make a strong first impression and quickly convey details about your life visitors will appreciate and connect with as they enter your home.
Incorporating Portraits Into Coffee Table Books
If you have an extensive portrait collection spanning many subjects, compile the photos into a custom printed book to prominently display on a living room coffee table.
Hardcover photo books can showcase any number of portraits – family photos, travels, artwork, pets, weddings, children, ancestors, etc.
A coffee table portrait book becomes a conversation piece for guests. It also preserves your portraits in a bound collection apart from scattered frames hanging throughout the home.
Capturing Pets in Custom Portraits
For animal lovers, pets make for perfect portrait subjects. Capture your furry friends’ unique personalities by:
- Commissioning a custom painting of your pet from a photo. An artist can recreate your pet’s features in a realistic or abstract style in oil, watercolor, pastel, or other mediums.
- Hiring a pet photographer for a professional photoshoot to capture engaging shots of your dogs or cats. Select the best images to feature around your home.
- Ordering a caricature or illustrated artwork of your pet. Play up their silly mannerisms through the artist’s interpretation.
- Printing your favorite iPhone photos of your pet enlarged and framed as impactful wall art.
- Turning a whimsical photo of your pet into a canvas print, holiday card, calendar page, or book cover.
Portraits provide endless inspiration for adding a personal touch to your home or office. Whether it’s frames peppered across the home or a giant statement piece, portraits allow you to surround yourself with the people, places, and things you love.
With infinite options for sizes, mediums, styles, customization, and display configurations, the creative possibilities are unlimited. Just tailor the portraits you use to the rooms, walls, furniture, and shelves you want to accentuate.
Most importantly, let the portraits reflect your personality. Showcase subjects meaningful to you – loved ones, destinations, achievements, interests, and cherished pets. Use your favorite faces to add visual interest while deepening the connections you feel within the space.
Frequently Asked Questions About Decorating With Portraits
- What wall space is best for hanging portraits? Walls above fireplaces, couches, and beds are ideal portrait positions, as they provide blank space for statement pieces. Accent walls also allow portraits to take center stage.
- How do I style a gallery wall of portraits? Start by mapping out the arrangement with painters tape on the wall. Maintain similar spacing between frames for consistency. Arrange by size, subject matter, color, or frame style. Step back periodically to check sightlines. Mix in some non-portrait artwork to add variety.
- What types of frames work best for portraits? Simple, classic frames avoid drawing attention away from the portrait itself. Black, white, silver, and neutral wood tones work universally for most portraits. Vintage and ornate frames suit traditional styles. Go bold with brightly colored frames for a playful look.
- What are good alternative portrait mediums beyond paintings and photos? Sculptures, charcoal or graphite sketches, collages, quilts, and needlepoints featuring faces make unique portrait mediums. Also consider incorporating portraits into wallpaper, murals, mixed media wall hangings, and decals.
- Should I hang portraits at eye level? Not necessarily. Break up grouped or gallery wall arrangements by hanging some portraits higher and lower. But leave ample space between the pieces for the eye to rest. Avoid cramming everything at one height.