How to display your photographs

Forget albums – there are better ways to show off snaps. By Kate Watson-Smyth

Given that most of us don't live in houses with huge grand pianos on which to display serried ranks of silver photograph frames, we need to find other ways of showing off our nearest and dearest without cluttering up every available surface and turning the place into a shrine. Time was it was regarded as a bit common to hang photos all over the walls, but we can overlook that these days, which does at least give you a bit more room to manoeuvre.

The first thing is to decide on the right space. The stairwell – if you have one – is a good place to start, as it leaves plenty of room to add to the display and is otherwise dead space that you might not want to fill with valuable paintings, in case they get knocked. Plus, you don't necessarily want all your visitors to be confronted with dozens of pictures of your family as soon as they walk through the door.

Next, the frames. Your pictures are likely to be all different sizes, so try to stick to a uniform colour for the frames. Black, white or wooden themes usually work well, but they don't all have to be the same style. Either hang them in uniform rows – tricky but stunning – or go for a more organic shape, which makes it easier to tack on others as and when you want to. Woolworths used to be a good source of cheap frames but there are plenty of other places. Try any high-street shop that has a homeware section, such as Matalan or even some of the big supermarkets.

Alternatively, consider having a couple of your favourite pictures transferred on to canvas. Photographic shops such as Snappy Snaps ( www.snappysnaps.co.uk) will do this for you. If you want something more contemporary, ask them to do a bit of computer trickery and give your portraits the Warhol treatment, for example, or get them to create Roy Lichtenstein-style images with speech bubbles. They may also be able to give your photo a charcoal effect or sepia tint.

Another clever idea is this wallpaper, £112.55 for 10m, from Bodie and Fou (0845 120 4648; www.bodieandfou.co.uk). Designed by Lisa Bergstein, it's called "The Family", and you can put it on one wall and fill in the frames with photos. A striking way to create your "brag wall", as the Americans would say.

You could also create a photo ledge – a low shelf that runs along one wall, perhaps above the back of the sofa. This allows you to prop up photos and pictures of different sizes. Because they aren't fixed, you can change them as often as you like.

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