There's a right way and a wrong way to style family photos in your home.

In the corner of my bedroom, partially covered by a display of fake flowers, is a dusty black-and-white portrait. It's my great grandparents, sitting in a black frame, right next to the mirror I look into, to put makeup on every morning.

I used to have that photo hanging up, all alone on my wall like a mantlepiece. I felt like a real adult, because in Māori families, it's somewhat of a tradition to display all the elders who have passed, so they might watch over us until the day we join them on that wall.

Can you spot it? Image: Supplied.


So I hung that portrait up with pride, gleaming at my ancestors every morning before I left home for the day. That is, until a friend told me it looked like I prayed to my dearly departed loved ones every night and I quickly removed it. 

Turns out my little blunder actually has its own term, and it's called 'Shrining'. In a clip that's going viral in the world of interior design on TikTok, one woman has stepped forward to announce that there actually is a wrong way to hang up some dowdy family photos on a wall. Actually, if you want to get specific, there are many ways.

You can watch the clip from Shannyn Weiler below. Post continues after video. 

Video via TikTok @shannynweiler.

Interior designer Shannyn Weiler shared there is a specific trap people fall into when designing their homes.

"Family photos can become a problem when they become, what I refer to, as 'The Shrine'," she said in the clip, adding she fell victim to decorating her first apartment with wedding photos. 

"Everywhere we went, it was just wedding photos. It's all about us and it felt like what I call 'The Shrine'. This also happens if you have one baby... it's just the shrine to the one kid. It ALSO happens when there's just one grandkid, too."


Essentially, 'The Shrine' refers to decorating the home purely in photos from one event, of one or a few people. It doesn't tend to look 'great' depending on what 'great' looks like to you. 

After all, some people love having special moments memorialised in their homes. But for others, like me per se, some photographs are better left in a book — one that can strategically be hidden away in the back of a cupboard. 

Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to hang family photos... but how does one do it without, you know, overdoing it? 

We turned to interior stylist and founder of T.House, Tina Nettlefold, who shared her thoughts on how to style pictures of loved ones without making your humble abode look like a place of worship.

But first, it's important to remember the purpose of family photos in the home in the first place: to show our love and care for those in our lives.

"Your home serves as a reflection of yourself and the people living in the home. If you don’t have any family photos, it could come across as somewhat impersonal, leaving the impression that just about anyone could be living there," Nettlefold tells Mamamia. 

"Family photos hold profound significance, connecting us to those who came before and allowing our children to have a sense of belonging."


Each photo and every memory encased in a frame on our walls is something worth remembering, adds the expert interior stylist. So they serve a larger, and arguably more important purpose, than simply as a decoration.

"Displaying photos of your children will help to boost their self-esteem and confidence. These pictures are a constant reminder to your child that they are important," she explains.

Nettlefold says that to get a good balance of displaying personal memories and sophisticated styling, there needs to be a bit more than just a simple arrangement of photographs.

"If the photos are displayed artfully or grouped as a theme with a consistent pattern or colour scheme, family photos can transform into captivating focal points, adding a touch of interest and personality to a home living space," she explains.

Perhaps it could be best to look at the overall aesthetic you're going for and then carefully consider which family photographs you believe align with how you want your home to look.

"There is nothing wrong with displaying family photographs, but it may be worth integrating them into the overall décor scheme," she tells us. "Rather than overwhelming your walls with pictures, opt for arranging them in a cohesive group or designate a specific area for them to be displayed.

"Alternatively, incorporate them into the art wall alongside other art, mirrors, or decorative items. If you are aiming for a minimalist aesthetic, try grouping the photos on a floating shelf or a bookshelf along with other décor ornaments."


Here are a few top tips from Tina Nettlefold.

How to style family photos in the home.

  • Grouping the photos and arranging them in a simple grid format.
  • Matching frame colours with existing décor schemes to ensure a cohesive visual appeal throughout the space. 
  • Opting for simple, frameless glass to showcase snapshots to help them blend seamlessly into the backdrop.
  • Integrating family photos with other artwork to add depth and interest to the display.
  • Ensuring frame choices suit the overall décor of your home.
  • Use only a few large portraits and display them in simple frames.

Take advantage of your hallways.

"Hallways offer a great opportunity to transform into gallery-like spaces while living and game rooms also work well as they serve as a congregating spot for family and friends," says Nettlefold. 

"As a general rule, hang pictures 144 cm-155cm above the centre of the ground (which is the average human eye height) pictures should be 15-20cm apart and 15cm above any furniture."

Tina Nettlefold says to take advantage of a good hallway. Image: Pinterest.


 Pre-plan before mounting.

Ah, yes. Unfortunately, you have to plan even your family photos too. Sorry!

"Before mounting family photos, pre-plan the arrangement and design, then mark the wall using a pencil to establish the precise position," the interior stylist tells us. "Locate the midpoint of the wall horizontally by marking where it intersects, that is where the middle of your artwork should go."  

If you have a specific layout you want your photographs in, pre-plan. Image: Pinterest.


She adds, "A general rule of thumb is that you can cover 60 per cent of the area with wall art and must leave 40 per cent of the area blank."

It's worth noting that for any frame that exceeds 6kg, it is recommended to secure them to a stud wall or use the anchor and screw method instead.

Avoid hanging pictures or artwork in direct sunlight. 

Direct sunlight can ruin any image over time. Plus, it pulls focus onto any dust that might be hanging around on the glass of your frame.

Opt for a no-frame-on-wall policy.

If you're not actually a fan of photos on the wall at all, it might be worth displaying them somewhere else.

"Consider displaying them on a dresser or cabinet in your living or master bedroom," says Nettlefold. "After all, family photos are an integral part of creating a warm and inviting family home."

Tina Nettlefold is the founder of T.House, an online platform that sells a philanthropic range of unique, limited-edition homewares. She is also an interior stylist, serial renovator and philanthropist. You can find out more on her website or Instagram.

Feature Image: TikTok @shannynweiler, Pinterest.

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