Thanks to digital photography and cell phone cameras, it's easier than ever to amass a vast collection of pictures of special moments and familiar faces.
Unfortunately, most of those precious images are stuck in a computer and rarely see the light of day. It's a cinch to press the shutter button, but what happens afterward? Once you realize photographs can be used to create home accents, the big picture gets more interesting -- and inspiring. Many snapshots can be transformed into decorative objects as modern and arresting as anything you'd find in a design store.
The trick is not to limit photos to the usual frames (or to areas such as the top of a piano or side table), and to begin visualizing other places and objects around the house as potential exhibition spaces. Frameless photographs can be mounted on sturdy art boards and linked by small hinges for an accordion structure (above.) Sort through photographs, set aside the best ones, and then think about which types of displays would highlight them effectively. Soon you'll be thinking of the digital files on your computer not just as images, but as the makings of your next conversation piece.
Some projects require an ink-jet or a laser printer, so read through the instructions and consider your equipment before deciding what to make. You can use photo-editing software to enlarge and crop images, draw attention to the details you like most, and convert color shots to black-and-white or sepia tones. Still lifes and simple shapes set against plain backgrounds work particularly well for the photos with trim, the photo cubes, and the stationery set. Don't overlook nondigital photos, which can be scanned into a computer and modified.
Copies of family photos can enhance household objects, such as this vintage vanity tray, above left. A glazier can cut a piece of glass to fit inside the tray to protect the image. Photos of pets and other animals are cut out and glued to cards to create a stationery set. Bottle caps are inset with small black-and-white pictures and can be used as magnets and thumbtacks.
Sepia landscapes, above, left, are framed by a decorative trim. Black-and-white images of nature form photo cubes. A moody photograph turns into the face of a clock. The image is inserted by unscrewing the back of a clock, gently removing its hands with pliers, and then pulling apart the face and the mechanism. The face of the clock is traced onto the back of the photograph, and the cutout is attached to the face with double-sided tape. Then the clock is reassembled.