We want to display them proudly, but kindergarten art projects and snapshots of relatives don’t always harmonize with the rest of the decor. It’s all about the presentation. It all comes down to the presentation.
“Everything in a home should have meaning,” said Lauren Robbins, an interior designer in Augusta, Ga. “So taking pieces with history — whether it’s an heirloom piece of furniture or something as simple as children’s art — and incorporating them with a modern twist is really important.”
Displayed well, Ms. Robbins continued, that painting made in preschool can look as impressive as anything else in your home — and it can bring more joy.
She and other interior designers shared some advice.
Putting family photos or children’s artwork in frames immediately elevates their appearance. If you plan to hang multiple pieces together, try mounting them in matching frames for visual unity, even if the photos or paintings don’t look that similar, said Caitlin Kah, an interior designer in Palm Beach, Fla.
The streamlined framing aesthetic is especially useful “when you’re dealing with a mix of black-and-white photos and color photos,” said Ms. Kah, who once used bamboo frames to display disparate family photos on a grasscloth-covered wall.
Black or white frames are a good, simple option, but colorful frames can also work well for hanging art by children, said Meg Lonergan, an interior designer in Houston.
“It’s fun to play up the childlike qualities of the art you’re framing,” said Ms. Lonergan, who has mounted paintings by her son in red frames. “Instead of trying to make it serious or formal feeling, lean into the nature of the work and frame it in something super eye-catching, cheerful and happy.”
Create a Gallery Wall
Once the pieces are framed, don’t just hang them in random spots. Create an organized gallery wall for a bigger statement.
Devon Wegman, the founder and design director of Devon Grace Interiors, a Chicago firm, is a fan of large-scale gallery walls with numerous family photos grouped together. “We try to create a moment where everything comes together, like an epic gallery wall,” said Ms. Wegman.
In her loft, which she shares with Michael Wegman, her husband and business associate, dozens photos are framed in black. The couple used 3-D design software to ensure that the composition had a sense order and would cover the entire wall. For their clients, they have used the same process to create grids of evenly spaced family photos and free-form arrangements that look considered.
Ms. Kah installed picture shelves over the kitchen banquette of her Palm Beach, Fla. home. She said that she loves the ease with which you can add and remove items from a picture shelf. Compared to a gallery wall, it’s a little more low maintenance and can grow with your family.”
Beyond the kitchen, a long hallway is another good place for a picture shelf, Ms. Kah said. Ms. Wegman used a picture rack at a client’s house to display family photos above the television in the living area. Lonergan, and Ms. Wegman enjoy stringing wires along walls to suspend art. “That’s the place where things from my children’s school would come home, and get clipped,” said Ms. Lonergan. She used curtain wires from Ikea. It was a nice, informal way to display kids’ art that costs almost nothing. It’s a nice, informal way to display kids’ art that costs almost nothing.”
Install a Bulletin Board
A bulletin board, or pinboard, offers similar advantages. Ms. Robbins used a fabric-covered board to display her children’s art in the mudroom in her Georgia home. But rather than choosing a plain fabric that would blend into the wall, she made it a feature by covering it in a patterned fabric printed with colorful illustrations.
“Because that whole wall was white, it really needed something to make that pinboard pop,” Ms. Robbins said. “It provides this fun background for the art we get from our children.”
The paintings and drawings on display change with the seasons, which helps keep things fresh. She said that a pinboard is a great way to change things up. “You can constantly change things out with whatever art you want to put on the wall.”
Make It the Center of Attention
If you’re more interested in celebrating one or two special pieces than displaying a large collection, there are other options.
Sarabeth Arima, an Atlanta-based artist, specializes in elevating family portraits by creating one-of-a-kind works around a favorite photograph. It’s a multimedia collage. She said that she started out doing it for friends but soon, interior designers began asking her to do it professionally. She called the pieces “love notes to a family’s story.”
If a piece already transcends everyday life, it can be the focal point of a room. Ms. Robbins, a mother of three, hung the painting of her children over her sofa in the living room and designed the rest of the space around it. Ms. Robbins recalled that as the children began to paint, she looked at her father and told him, “This is really good.” Now that it’s framed and mounted over her sofa, Ms. Robbins says, “it is such a conversation-piece.” People walk in, and they’re like, “Oh my gosh! Where did you find that piece?” And I say, “Oh, my children did it.”