I Never Hang Art or Photos Before Trying This Trick, and You Shouldn’t Either

updated Mar 30, 2023
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When it comes to leaving picture frames empty, I used to be among the worst offenders. My low point? I woke up to the adorable smile of someone else’s toddler for nearly a year before I finally put a photo of my own children in the frame hanging opposite my bed. (Yep, guilty.) Like every busy human being, I blamed it on time, but it was more than that. 

Since it seemed so easy to print art and photos to any dimension (and it really is!), I’d foolishly leave the filling for last and focus first on nailing the frame size and location. The problem was, after planning, shopping, measuring, and hanging, I’d feel accomplished for winning the blank wall or tabletop battle, and I’d let myself take a breather instead of quickly deciding what art or photos to put inside. 

Credit: Taryn Mohrman

Sometimes weeks or months would go by before I’d realize I’d become design blind to a frame that was empty — or rather, filled with perfect strangers. Only when company was coming and I did that fresh-eye room scan about 30 minutes before the doorbell rang did I notice my unfinished projects. 

I love interior design and decorating, so why was it so hard for me to fill a darn frame? If she could, that sweet toddler on my bedroom wall would whisper three words: fear of commitment. She’d be right. I needed to be reminded that frames are designed for easy swaps; it’s really okay to not get it right at first or to simply change your mind. That’s when I decided to try this trick: Before I step away from a newly hung frame, I print a photo or piece of art to size using my home printer and tape it to the front of the frame or mount it inside. It’s quick, cheap, and more convenient than even a 1-hour photo pickup, but most importantly, it takes the pressure off picking the just-right art or photos the first time. If I’m not feeling my printout in a few days or hours, I can easily pick something else to print for a test run. Then, when I’m positive I’ve got the right art or photo for the space, I place my order for a higher-quality print. 

I did this in my bedroom, which you can see above, and it worked like a dream. Sometimes you do get it right on the first try, but taking a beat to visualize your walls or shelfie with this trick is always worth it. Now whenever I hang a new frame I remind myself that staring at something you love is always better than staring at nothing you love.