Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


On the Wall (a Reader Request)

Can you tell immediately if the framed picture above is an artfully enlarged family photo or a fine art photograph purchased at a gallery? Does it make a difference?

In his living room Rayman Boozer has hanging works by Karl Blossfeldt and Bruce Weber, plus a personal picture close by on a desk. When it comes to mixing fine art with personal photographs on the same wall, designers can be pretty polarized. Some prefer not to see a family photo hanging at all; for them bookshelves and side tables are the only acceptable spots. But others seem to be able to break the rules with great flair.

A reader asked me to explore the subject further. While I search for some images that haven't already been seen a hundred times, I thought I'd put the topic out there and share a few examples from past posts.

Amanda Peet mixes candid family shots with art. Coliena Rentmeester photographed the dense grouping for Domino. (Must click to enlarge this one!)

Did Schuyler Samperton chose to combine a personal picture with fine art in her vestibule? Photo by Paul Costello for Domino.

The most famous rule breaking example, in my mind, is India Hicks' dining room. Her dad, David Hicks, didn't like to see photographs hung on a wall, so India installed shelves to display a large collection of personal pictures. Arthur Elgort photographed the room for Vogue, 1998.

BTW: Boozer's blue living room made the May 2006 cover of Elle Decor. As Domino reported in April 2008, Peter Dunham uses art and family pictures for a story-rich interior (images four and five above). His family pictures below are on a desk, not a wall, but I had to share since they are so authentic in contrast with overly styled black-and-whites favored in recent years.

[Image cropped from Hollywood Style, photography © Tim Street-Porter, Rizzoli New York, 2004.]


Alicia said...

Love gallery walls, especially Amanda Peet up the staircase.
In my last home I did the same thing & it took me hours of arranging on the floor in the living room....
India Hicks shelving is crazy but is it me or all the pics b&w or sepia tones?? Maybe that keeps a sense of clm in all that calamity.

Style Court said...

Alicia, that's a good point about India's collection. I think there may be one or two with subtle color -- not positive -- but almost entirely bw or sepia-ish :)

The Countess of Nassau County said...


I am a huge Rayman Boozer fan and adore his store, Apartment 48. He is an incredibly warm and talented man. If you're in NYC, go visit.

Anonymous said...

Slightly OT: The last pic with the glass bottle lamp is from an old magazine spread (was it House Beautiful or H&G?) done on Peter Dunham. I don't think it's the house he lives in right now. But oh how it haunts me! Dunham does not have these particular pics on his website and it just drives me crazy! I want to see that house again and read the story!

Style Court said...

Hi Anon -- I think it was Elle Decor. After I bought the book, I discarded those tear sheets but I regret that because some bedrooms were featured in the magazine! I love seeing that red desk move around :)

Style Court said...

Countess, glad to hear from another fan.

Shoshana said...

The last time I visited Apartment 48 they said that his cover was the second best selling issue of Elle Decor (the top was Cindy Crawford) and with good reason. Boozer is immensely talented.

Style Court said...

Shoshana -- it's certainly a favorite cover of mine, too.

Jennifer said...

I love it when personal photographs are treated as art. Elizabeth Martin did it well (in my opinion) in Alexandra Wentworth's East Hampton house:

If nothing else, photos are a good substitute until "real art" can be afforded.

Barbara said...

I love the idea of shelves for photo frames. I hadn't thought of that and it's beautiful. You can pick them up and really see the images without worry of missing up the display.

I like to mix art with photos as well and add to until the wall is full.