Seaside scenes, landscapes and abstract works all have their place, but portraits have something that other forms of artwork simply don’t. When you look at a portrait, whether it is new or old, painted or photographed, you are seeing a person. A life. Portraits ignite the imagination and populate a room with hidden stories — you can’t help but wonder what the subjects were thinking, feeling and doing. From vintage paintings to blown-up family snapshots and commissioned work, here are some fresh ways to use portraits around the house.
Collected. Keep an eye out for portraits that share a trait — a similar color palette or size, or works by the same artist — and hang them as a collection for maximum impact.
Partially hidden. Peeking out from behind a woodpile is an unexpected (even a bit cheeky) treatment for a formal portrait. Or try tucking a portrait behind stacked books or plates on a kitchen shelf.
Silhouettes. Whether modern and colorful or vintage Victorian, silhouette portraits have an undeniable graphic appeal.
Supersize photo. Have a great formal wedding portrait of yourself or a family member? Have it blown up to nearly life-size proportions for a bold, personal piece that will fill a wall.
Well-lit row. Enhance a series of portraits (whether photographs or paintings) by installing a wall sconce above each one. Nautical-style lights, as shown here, are a fresh alternative to classic picture lights.
Children’s self-portraits. Have your little one’s self-portrait framed beautifully and hang it just as you would a fine piece of art … because it is!
Casually propped. Can’t decide where to hang that portrait? Forget the hammer and nails — a portrait leaning casually against the wall can be even more charming. Try it on the floor or a credenza, or leaned atop the mantel.
All black and white. A mix of old and new family portraits looks striking in black and white.
Color blocked. Shake up a grid of family portraits by mixing in a few solid color blocks — an odd number looks the most natural.
Iconic celebrity portraits. Artsy photos of celebrities are available at all price points, from (very expensive) rare and limited-edition prints at private galleries to affordable art bought online.