Think Outside the Frame: How to Make Your Trip Mementos Shine

This scene will probably seem all too familiar. You arrive home from your grand vacation adventure. You can’t wait to display trophies of your trip: pieces of unique art, photos from famous locales, neat little doodads that bring a sense of worldliness into your home. In a flurry of excitement, you throw black-framed photos on your wall and an exotic statuary on your end table. But now it seems dull, disjointed. Your exciting souvenirs fade into the rest of your decor. We consulted interior design professionals for tips on how to draw focus to your vacation mementos in ways that are as elegant as they are creative.

The go-to method for displaying photos is usually picture frames, of course. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a dull collection of unrelated snapshots in homogeneous frames. Berley Farber, personal curator, designer, and owner of
San Francisco-based Farber Art Services, recommends creating a montage of your vacation photos and mementos on one wall to tell the complete story of your trip. He also mentions that if you want that extra artist’s eye, you can always hire a professional designer for hanging photos. Rates can run around $150 per hour.

For truly leaving the frame behind, there are a host of other options for displaying photos in creative ways. Nina Freudenberger, founder of Haus Interior with locations in New York and Los Angeles, recommends using a pin board. With the right photos and the right composition, the pin board can surpass the college dorm feel and look truly elegant. Just make sure you get one with a classic felt background instead of basic cork. Create a cascading photo montage supplemented by printed mementos, grouping items together with written labels.

For a more unconventional display, have your pictures printed on wood or simple white tea towels, recommends Christina Vo, an interior designer with Dwell Candy in Chicago. The textured surface of the materials can create a stunning effect. But, Vo warns, you have to start with a great photo. Along the same line, Betsy Helmuth, owner and designer of Affordable Interior Design in New York, recommends printing your photos on coasters. “Whenever your guests put a drink down, they will look at the coaster,” she says. Not only will it stop condensation issues, it will also start conversations about your memorable journeys.

Also, don’t discount lighting when displaying your photos. Cecilia Merino, another interior designer at Dwell Candy, recommends using spotlights and individual display LED lights to avoid unsightly wires and to let your snapshots really shine.

(First published in AXESS magazine.)

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