I am ecstatic to be part of Kristen Duke’s Decorating With Pictures series this year!  It is actually this series that got me hooked on her blog several years ago.  It was totally an honor to be invited to participate this year.

Decorating with Pictures February Series

After you read this post, hop on over to Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke and enter the giveaway on her site.  The Decorating With Pictures series includes 2 posts per day for the entire month of February, and each post has a giveaway.  Kristen arranged over $5,000 worth of giveaways throughout the month, plus you get all the amazing photo decorating inspiration!

It is a bit odd writing this post on one of the coldest days of the year, considering we took these photos on one of the hottest days of the year. But, sometimes it takes a while to get things hung up around here.

Over the summer we did a special photo shoot for the boys. In previous years, the focus had always been on them individually or us as a family. This time we wanted the emphasis to be on brotherhood. I also wanted to capture their imaginative and youthful spirit.

How to Match Family Pictures to Your Room Decor | tealandlime.com

How to Make DIY Capes for Photo Props

I always admired the pictures of girls twirling in tutus in my photographer’s studio, and longed to do something similar for my boys. After years of watching them wear superhero suits during playtime, I realized I needed to do a photo shoot with capes.

How to make t-shirt capes for photo props | tealandlime.com

I made both capes for less than $10.  I bought two x-large bright yellow t-shirts at the craft store. I cut around the neck hole and down the back to create capes. The boys modeled when I was making them, but were not allowed to use them until the photo shoot.

We went to a nearby park for the photos. The boys had a blast running around on the edge of the woods in their capes. It was a morning that truly captured their playful energy and their relationship.

The cape props really made a difference. What could have been a boring posed session turned into a morning of fun. When we brought out the capes the boys instantly knew this photo session was different. It was all about fun.

In a couple of the shots, I was assigned to hold out the capes, and was later edited out by the photographer.  That is how we captured the look of the fluttering capes.  My oldest had a fabulous idea to use a crate the photographer brought to sit on as a support to capture pictures of them in flying position.  Those turned out to be our favorite pictures!

Matching Frame Photo Gallery

When I previewed the photos from the session, I loved them all. I couldn’t possibly narrow this session down to one portrait. I used to prefer ordering one larger photo, but this time was different. I wanted to capture a story. I had to have 9 photos of this session. To stick within my budget, I ordered them as 8x10s, so I could create a gallery wall with them.


I am a huge fan of mixing and matching frames to create a gallery wall, but this time I wanted something simpler. I did not want the frames to detract from the beautiful images of a forming brotherhood bond.

I chose grayish-silver, slightly distressed frames to compliment the woodland photo shoot. I went with 9 identical frames.  At first they might appear more rustic than I prefer for my style, but other than the pitted look, the frames are smooth with a silver finish.

Matching frame photo gallery wall | tealandlime.com

I had the perfect blank wall in the family room just begging for something big to fill it up. This is the space you see immediately in front of you as you walk into the family room. It is the wall between the family room window and the game room area.


The gray frames pop off the white walls and repeats the gray and white graphic pattern on the DIY rug ottoman. But what really jumps out at you is the beautiful photos and those fun, bright yellow capes. I am so thankful we were able to capture these playful moments for our boys.

Pre-Planning Required for the Best Photos

To capture this amazing session, I met with my photographer beforehand to discuss what we wanted.  We also went back and forth a few times about outfit plans and location.  It definitely takes a little planning to pull off a great photo session, and it is well worth it.

When we first started working with our photographer and she asked where in our house we wanted to hang pictures, mind you this was BEFORE we took any pictures, I thought she was crazy.  I thought you take the pictures and then decide where to put them.  But, over the years I have learned there is so much more to it than that.

How to Match Your Family Photo Session to Your Room Decor | tealandlime.com

With some thought and careful planning you can coordinate your pictures to your home, both based on size and location, but also color and feeling.  Once we started viewing our photo planning session this way, we were much happier with the results of every session.  We never had to worry if a picture would look good if we hung it here or there, because we already planned the perfect spot for it upfront.  The photos we do with our photographer now have more staying power in our home.

6 Tips for Coordinating a Photo Session with Your Decor

1.  Consider where you want to hang the photos BEFORE the photo shoot. In addition to the room you plan to hang the photos in, it helps if you can give your photographer an idea of the size or type of image you want or orientation.  With all this information they will better be able to capture the right photos.  (For example, our photographer knew we needed a vertical image for this arched niche in our foyer and planned her shoot accordingly to get the right shot.)

2. Let your photographer know the feeling you want for the pictures.   In general, this should be consistent with the feeling you want for the room where you plan to hang the photos.  Is it a formal room, fun play room, family space, or relaxing bedroom?  For the session above, we wanted something happy and playful to go in-between our family room and game room.

3.  Bring the feeling you want to the session.  If you want happy and fun feeling photos, you have to show up in a happy and fun mood.  For our session, that meant having outfits pre-planned and me waking up early to get myself ready, before getting the kids dressed.  For me, preparation = calm and happy.

4. Coordinate your outfits to the room.  With the room colors and feeling in mind, choose outfits that coordinate.   For our family room, we chose casual clothes in light blues with a little pattern.  For other sessions we have chosen differently based on the room; see our bedroom gallery wall and living room gallery wall.  (Note: Black and white options are a life-saver when you don’t plan upfront.  Our photographer captured this amazing photo of my husband’s whole family.  It was a one-off shot and none of the adults were even planning to be in pictures.  Ordering it in black and white made it a perfect fit for our dining room.)

5.  Use props to add an accent color.  Yellow is a big element in our fun family room, but it felt too forced to try to make the boys wear yellow (which neither ever wears).  Instead we added yellow to the photos through props.

6.  Choose a prop that goes with the colors, theme, or feeling for your room.  For our family room, we chose capes to catch the wonderful playful spirit of my boys at age 3 and 6.  It also lead to a very fun and playful photo shoot.  Our resulting images are more of a story, than a portrait.


Why I Love Ordering 8x10s

We used to order larger canvas prints of our family photos, but once we filled several of the display spots in our house, we started taking a different approach.  Not only are the canvases and framed prints more expensive, but they take up more room (hanging or in storage).  And after the spending so much on them, you don’t want to change them out as often.

We got wise to this and started ordering several prints we liked in the 8×10 gift portrait size, instead of one larger print.  I use them together to create a gallery wall display.  We have one gallery wall in our living room and this new one in our family room.  They are easy to swap out when we get updated pictures.  The best part, is unlike a canvas or framed print, the 8x10s tuck away easily into a photo album where we can continue to enjoy them when they are no longer on the wall.

Do you coordinate photo sessions with your room decor? What are some of you favorite photo props?

P.S. Don’t forget to hop on over to Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke and enter the giveaway.

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24 Responses to How to Take Fun Family Photos and Match Your Decor

  1. Michelle says:

    I love these – well done!

  2. Such a great post, and so thoughtful! Thanks for contributing to the series, my friend!

  3. Wow, I never really thought about any of those pre-planning ideas for a photo shoot. What great ideas! I LOVE the idea of figuring out where you want to hang the pictures before you actually take them. It makes so much sense! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Diana says:

    Love the cape idea! Great shots of cute kiddos.

  5. Nicole says:

    I have heard of your blog several times, and never knew you were in MN! I am going to check out your photographer, and poke around your blog for a while. Love the tips you shared about decorating with photos!

  6. Colleen says:

    Jackie- I love the frames! where did you get them?

    • Jackie says:

      Colleen, Sorry I forgot that. I updated the post with the link. They are these frames (note: for some strange reason the product title and image say 5×7 on the site, but they are actually 8×10).

  7. Caroline says:

    I love the yellow chairs. Are they vintage, or are they available to purchase/order somewhere?

    • Jackie says:

      Caroline, The yellow chairs in my family room are the Anson chairs from Room & Board. I think they are stocked in a different fabric now, but could be ordered in this “Maize” color.

  8. jessvii says:

    Forgive me if you’ve already covered this, but how does a person hang frames like these so perfectly? For example, all of the top edges on the bottom row are lined up. I like it when things are aligned, but cannot figure out how to do it. I have a level, a pencil, a measuring tape, and conventional picture-hanging hooks… What exactly am I missing here? Is it just a case of practice makes perfect or are there tricks of the trade?

    • Jackie says:

      Jess, I posted about hanging a gallery wall years ago, but it is probably due for a refresh. In this case, I used a 4ft. level, 2″ wide painter’s tape, and Command Picture Hanging Strips. I started with the center picture, which should be at eye level. Then I placed a piece of 2″ tape on each side of that frame as my spacer to know how close to hang the other pictures. With my 4ft level resting on top of the middle picture (or someone helping hold it), I place the pictures next to it lined up with the level and the outer edge of the tape. Then, I used the level vertically to align the corner pictures. And, I totally eyeballed the placement of the two vertical pictures with only my painter’s tape spacer as a guide.

      It is way easier to do this with the picture hanging strips, because you are just sticking them to the wall. And, afterward you can reposition each frame slightly by “un-velcroing” it and re-attaching. Hope that helps.

      • jessvii says:

        This advice is awesome – thank you! I would not have thought to use wide painter’s tape as the spacer (*brilliant*). And although I have a level, it is much shorter – I may have to get a larger one now :).

    • Jackie says:

      And, here is a little action shot of the process I shared on Instagram: http://instagram.com/p/j68IGKpcEI/

  9. Caroline says:

    Thanks Jackie!

  10. Gwen says:

    Love how layer by layer your room keeps unfolding yet it never looks unfinished in the process!! This photo wall is quite striking. I really like how you did your feature on the wooded wall. It’s perfect too. And this is perfect for this spot. Hmmm…can’t say I ever had my kids dress for my decor. They each looked best in different colors! And gallery walls were so ’70’s no one did them in the 90’s. it was the time of a zillion expensive frames staggered on a table. That got old dusting and trying not to cover up someone in frame behind!! Into a box they all went in one wide sweep never to return. I like the photo wall idea best. With a couple special photos scattered around in frames on a table or dresser. Your capes are the best!! The room looks awesome!!

  11. Jesse says:

    You have so much natural light in there, it looks great! Have you ever thought of putting an over-sized plant in that corner? Like a fiddle leaf fig, or a Norfolk Island pine? I bet it’d do great!


    • Jackie says:

      Jesse, I would love a big plant in here. I have a few doing well in my studio, but I have hesitated to invest in a big plant for this space yet, because it gets pretty chilly in our basement this time of year. I am worried the fiddle leaf fig might be too fickle for that. The pine might be a great alternative. Thanks for the suggestion.

  12. Kristin says:

    Love this post! Such great ideas and so practical! I just love your picture wall :) Thank you so much for sharing! Sharing the love from Minnesota too :)

  13. We had photos of our family taken by a professional phtographer last year and it was the first time we’ve ever done that! It was fun and we are dsiplaying some of the pictures in our living room. I am glad that you had posted the idea of planning outfits that match the room, so at least I brought dark blue outfits for everyone and the photos turned out so nice. Planning props in an accent color takes it one step further and I will think of it next time. ;)
    Thanks, I so love your blog.

    • Jackie says:

      Jule, Thank you dear! Planning outfits and props for pictures can be as fun as decorating the room…because when you think of it this way, it is part of decorating the room :)

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