Decorating with Portraits at 71 Toes

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My name is Shawni and my blog is called 71toes.

As a photographer, I am a huge advocate for displaying family photos in a home so I was intrigued by Kristen’s idea to share various ways people do this.(And I’m honored to be included in that list!

There was a moment in time when I became pretty conscientious about what I hung on our walls:

A few years ago my daughter Elle got what she had been begging and begging for for Christmas: a new camera.


She was delighted.

And instead of going around taking pictures of her Christmas gifts or of her family, she promptly went about taking pictures of everything on our walls. A wrought iron piece of decor, each picture lining our stairway, the picture of her sister making a funny face hanging in our living room…you name it, those things on the walls were the first thing on her photography agenda.

Watching her made me evaluate what was hanging there for her to photograph. If my daughter thought the items on our walls were important enough to be her first items of business with her new camera, they obviously meant something to her.

I think we underestimate the influence of what we put on our walls. My kids notice the second I change something. So I better make what I put up count.

And what can be better to remind children of how much we value our family than pictures of that family…together and separate…anything that reiterates how much we love each other.

So after a little evaluation and re-decorating, here are some ways we have pictures displayed in our home.

First, we have a big family picture on canvas. It hangs in our living room. As you can see, it is not a collage, just a big family
(And I promise it looks better than that in real life…I think my lens must have been dirty when I snapped that one!)

This is how it looks in the room:
We also have portraits lining our stairs:

And in our kitchen by our dining table:
(These ones are mostly of extended family so we can think of them often since they live far away.)

I have displayed them in shadow-boxes to get a little different look in that room.

This next part is my dining room. These are not really “portraits” but they tell part of the story of our family and are still another idea for how to collage pictures, whether they be scenery or portraits.

My friend saw these old, rusty window panes at an antique shop and put the seed in my brain that they would help make a great collage. She has vision. I do not. (I love her.)

My husband’s comment when he saw those heavy metal things was that we needed to make sure we were all caught up with our tetanus shots.

But I LOVE how they turned out.

I got foam core board cut to fit in each frame, covered each one with white coarse linen, and stuck in pictures of places we’ve been because I love to travel. Family pictures would be kind of neat in there too, but when the rest of your house is plastered with them you kind of have to mix things up a little bit.

We like to talk about those places most of us have traveled to over Sunday dinner.

And they mean something to all of us.

This other little collage helps us appreciate the beauty of some of the places our family has spent some good time. Again, this could be a nice family portrait area as well.

Another idea is to make a collage of pictures in Photoshop and put them in a frame all together. This was what I gave my husband for a gift after a particularly exciting trip we got to go on:

Last but not least, we are putting finishing touches on my daughter’s bedroom (since she and her brother switched rooms this year). We decided to do a collage of pictures on the wall beside her bed.Here it is up a little closer:

I like mixing some different “elements” with pictures here and there like this thing:

…and this silhouette:

I wish you the best of luck with decorating with collages in your own home to make it that much more personal for your own family!

{The first few lines that she wrote at the top of this post–I got tears in my eyes–because it is exactly the point that I want to get across with this series of Decorating with Portraits.  Our kids see what is important to us by how we decorate.  If we display with THEM vs. too much “stuff” it will impact them.  They NOTICE!   I also love the display in her daughters room with her friends–so fun!  Can I add that I am a HUGE lover of Shawni’s blog?  I wish we were neighbors so I could peg her with mothering questions all day long.  Her writing is so inspirational, it is a MUST READ for me when I sit down to relax and actually read a few blogs. (I first learned about her blog at the end of the book that she co-wrote with her mom (who happens to be my mom’s mothering inspiration) A Mother’s Book of Secrets).  She has also inspired me to bring my “big camera” along to more family adventures instead of being lazy with my camera phone. She is an exceptional photographer, but it is her heart that draws me in, because she has a passion for teaching her children correct principles in life, as I strive to do on a daily basis.  Go add 71toes to your blog reads, you will not be disappointed, and read why it is called 71 toes:  hint, her youngest daughter helped with that  name….check out the I Love Lucy Project😉  Ok, enough from me…

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  1. I love the window pane idea, and your PS collage. Will definitely check out the blog, sounds like a fabulous read!!!

  2. i LOVE LOVE that big pic in her living room..and the fun lights that show it off. I am a huge fan of her blog too…super fun and inspirational ALL of the time!:)

  3. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that pic in her living room…and those fun lights that show it off. I also am a huge fan of her blog..super fun and inspirational every day.:)

  4. Loved the great decorating ideas plus I love that Shawni noticed the importance of the things on her walls through her daughter – where most of us (parents) learn the best lessons – through our children. I love that Shawni connected with my daughter, Kristen, through their blogs and photography since I connected with Shawni’s Mom 30 years ago through our interest in Parenting! GREAT!

  5. I am LOVING this feature you are doing. I am completely hooked. Are you just doing it for a month? Will you consider keeping it going? We just bought a new home and it is giving me huge inspiration on how I might want to decorate our home. You should consider asking Kelly from EnjoyingTheSmallThings to do a feature. She is an amazing photographer and would probably have some great ideas to share. I’m so glad I stumbled across this blog!

  6. Lovely pictures and awesome photography.

  7. I absolutely love all of your photo displays! Definitely inspiring – We recently moved and I’ve been trying to get ideas of how to display photos in our house.
    You’re an incredibly talented photographer!

    {Here from Southern Lovely}

  8. Oh! This is a fabulous post…all of it!
    Thanks for linking it up to Southern Lovely’s Show & Share!!

  9. I am loving this Portrait series, but this is my favorite post so far! So many great ideas here. I love that each and every room has so many personal photos. Wonderful inspiration!


  1. […] I am be guest posting over at Kristen Duke Photography.  I am part of her Decorating with Portraits series she has been doing all month.  If you want to […]

  2. […] loved what Shawni from 71 toes said in her post, “I think we underestimate the influence of what we put on our walls. My kids notice the […]