The albums are sitting in the hall closet, with boxes of fabulous photos for you to organize and scrapbook when you have a few spare afternoons. Don't wait for the distant future to enjoy the quick captures of your kids' lives in your favorite photos; decorate the house with them. Young children will ask for family stories to illustrate old photos again and again, and teens will swap their photo boards as often as their mercurial tastes change.
Bring your family tree to the dinner table with a chandelier that features great-great grandma and the new baby's first steps. Surround a central light bulb with two or three graduated circles of stiff wire; re-purpose a lampshade frame stripped of its fabric, and ring it with tiny clothespins or paper clips. Fasten an ever-changing display of photographs to the wires for stimulating conversations over a communal meal or cracking up at the antics on your last vacation. Use a low-heat light bulb -- LED lamps don't put out much heat -- to avoid curling anyone's edges.
A row of vertical columns of photo sleeves creates a sense of private space in a shared teen bedroom. Hang a curtain rod from the ceiling between two beds and attach clear plastic photo sleeves to it that hold portrait- and landscape-shaped photographs. Some sleeves are roomy enough to slip in two photos back-to-back so each teen gets a "wall" of favorite images as a room divider. Assign alternate columns of photo sleeves if doubling-up won't work. The long streamers of pictures let some light and air circulate and allow each teen to customize their rogues' gallery and change the photos as new events or new friends surface.
Clean and polish a stripped-down bicycle wheel, hang it on the wall in the kitchen or den, and tuck casual snaps into the spokes. Avoid bending photographs by using spring clothespins to attach the photos to the spokes. Line up several bike wheels along one wall of the dining room for a gallery of mug shots. Spray-paint the rims and spokes with enamel paint designed to cling to metal; try a different color for each wheel in an eclectic dining room or stick with one shade -- all violet or charcoal -- in a spare modern space. Then dedicate a circle of spokes to each child or member of the family and add current photos often. Bike-wheel galleries work just as well for holiday cards or a family bulletin board for appointment and reminders.
Treasures From Trash
An old four- or six-paned window with peeling paint makes a clever wall display for photographs. Frame one special picture in each windowpane; use a matte if the photos are too small to fill up the entire pane. Write a legend on the matte in spidery script, describing the moment captured in the print, or tuck a memento, like a snippet of wildflower or a ticket stub, into the "frame" with the photo. Attach a picture wire to the back of the frame, and hang it in the foyer or mudroom over a shabby bench for pulling off boots or a small, crackle-glazed table that holds a basket for keys and a flowering plant.