Why We Hang Pictures

Because Ben is amazing, we have a new photo gallery up at our house.

Hmm, that makes it sound like he was the one busily arranging frames and choosing pictures….His amazingness was actually shown in the fact that he humored me for three hours of intense measuring, marking, leveling and hanging up pictures, which is not something he would normally choose to do in his free time.

But I am sooo loving having some pictures up on our walls. And I am so thankful for an understanding husband who knew how badly his girls needed some help in feeling “at home”.

You could say we were just filling up blank space on our new walls. But pictures have always been far more than that to me. Pictures on the walls are the fastest way to surround yourself with happiness. They tell stories, and make you feel like the space is yours.

Mark your territory.

I once read about how kids need to see those visual reminders that they belong. They need to see the out-of-date wedding pictures of their parents, because it gives history and a feeling of security and permanence.

Children need to see their baby pictures, because it helps them see where they’ve come from, and to feel like they belong.

They need to see family pictures so that year after year, they have a visual reminder of how this group of people keeps growing and changing…together.

And maybe children aren’t the only ones who need those visual reminders….

Those pictures on our walls are little pieces of this life we are building.

In his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller writes,

When I arrived home from Boston, I realized there were no pictures on my mantel. I set down my suitcase and walked into the living room and looked across to the fireplace, and it felt empty. Empty of real stories. I went to my bedroom where the bed was made, and on my desk there were no pictures in frames and on the end tables there were no pictures. There was a framed picture of Yankee Stadium above the toilet in the bathroom, and there was some art I’d picked up in my travels, but there was little evidence of an actual character living an actual life. My home felt like a stage on which props had been set for a face story rather than a place where a person lived an actual human narrative.

It’s an odd feeling to be awakened from a life of fantasy. You stand there looking at a bare mantel and the house gets an eerie feel, as though it were haunted by a kind of nothingness, an absence of something that could have been, an absence of people who could have been living here, interacting with me, forcing me out of my daydreams. I stood for a while and heard the voices of children who didn’t exist and felt the tender touch of a wife who wanted me to listen to her. I felt, at once, the absent glory of a life that could have been.

Every single day, I live this life filled with hugs and running feet and sticky, chubby hands. I sit on the couch in the quiet evenings drinking tea and talking with my wonderful husband. We have loads and loads of memories, and all these ideas and dreams for the future. All of this happiness actually exists for me.

I love the idea of having “evidence” of a full life being lived.


That first morning when the girls woke up to our newly hung pictures, I saw exactly what I’d hoped to see. They looked and looked at those pictures, and they remembered. They talked about the different places the pictures had been taken, and I could actually see the way in which those pictures affected them.

Now this is home. They see it, there is evidence for them in a way they can easily understand.

And I can sit here, looking at each photo, and I can still feel what it felt like to be in each of those places, each of those memories. I look at my life, not just what is right in front of me today, but also what has been.

It has been so good. I want to be reminded to remember.


Make it happen. Get stuff up on your walls. Pinterest is your best friend, if you feel a little lost when it comes to hanging pictures in a good arrangement. Go type in “photo gallery” and lose yourself in Pinterest for a little while.

And if you are not super excited about all of the work and effort involved in hanging up a ton of pictures, here’s what you do:

  1. Stop thinking about it as “decorating”, and start thinking about it as feeding your soul. Soul-feeding is far more important than having a perfectly decorated house.
  2. Go buy yourself the velcro strips at Michael’s, made specifically for saving your sanity in situations like these, and for hanging pictures without leaving any nail marks.
  3. Check out this tip for making picture-hanging about 10 times easier.
  4. Get it DONE, and then come back to leave a comment, letting us all know about your picture-hanging success!!
  5. Live happily ever after, basking daily in the glow of all those warm memories, your own personal evidence of a life full of goodness, beauty and love.

Happy picture hanging!:)

5 thoughts on “Why We Hang Pictures

  1. Thank you! Thank you for writing this! Many years ago someone remarked that the wedding pictures disappear when the baby pictures come along. Right then, perhaps out of sheer stubbornness, I decided that I would not allow that to happen.Twenty-one years later, at least three of our wedding pictures are displayed around our home. The largest one hangs over the piano with current school pictures of our children on either side. Because I like change, I was thinking about taking it down but your post today made me realize that it needs to stay right where it is.

    Also, I’m going to go up to the attic, get that box of gold spray-painted frames, paint them white, fill them with black and white photos and find a good place for a memory collage. Come to think of it, painting all the gold frames around the house white would be a nice, easy, fresh and inexpensive pick-me-up for our home. My son, who does not like change, is going to camp in about ten days; I know what I’ll be doing while he’s gone!

    • I also look forward to you hanging pictures in about 2-3 months, because they will be pictures hung in Canada!! Can’t wait to see you!

  2. Pingback: 34 Days of Favorites: Photo Galleries | Ordinary Days

  3. Pingback: Getting Pictures Up Onto Your Walls | Ordinary Days

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