Decorating a Staircase with Vintage Photos and Mirrors

For many years after moving into my current home, I occasionally pondered the decorating dilemma of the long, seemingly endless wall that runs the length of the main stairway of my home. Eventually, a creaky little cob-webbed door opened ip in my befuddled brain and I recalled a visit to a friend’s home many years before. I could see it now, her stairway wall was much shorter than mine, but is was covered in a large number of pictures with the frames almost touching each other. It definitely made a dramatic impression and I remembered loving the way it looked!

I decided to try something along the same lines, but I knew it would be different. I planned to use a collection of very old family portraits/photographs, many of which are enclosed in wonderful, antique framing. As I planned the layout, I realized I didn’t have quite enough pictures to cover the main focal area one would see going up the stairs. ย I came up with a solution I thought I would share with you today. ย Perhaps it will inspire or give you some new ideas for your problem wall.

View as you enter through the front door…

Below, old family portraits and photographs are mixed with mirrors and wall shelves. Also, resting on each of the wall shelves is a family photo…some of which are so small they would have been lost if hung on the wall.

Most of the wall shelves and mirrors came from a Ballard’s Outlet that used to be near my home, but unfortunately, has now closed. ๐Ÿ™ The cost for this display, not counting the family photographs, was somewhere around $150…not too bad a price to take care of a problem area this large.

A tip: One thing I would do differently, if I were to do this again, would be to start the the lower row a few inches higher up from the hand rail. At present, it’s a little easy to bump into a picture as your hand glides down the handrail.

View from top of stairway, looking down…

Take a look at some of the picture displays and wall arrangements I found at Southern Accents, online. Notice the impact multiple pics make as a opposed to hanging one really large picture or painting.

Sorry the photos are a bit blurry. Unfortunately, enlarging them in order to give you a better view, blurs the pictures just a little.

Here’s a great book I recently found…it’s full of creative ways to display your pictures and photos…

Another little tip: When I hang light to medium weight objects, like photos or paintings, I often hang them first on a straight pin…just until I am sure I like where the painting is going to be. If I change my mind, the hole made by a straight pin is barely visible. If I do like the placement, I replace the straight pin with a nail, unless of course, it is light enough that a straight pin is all that is needed.

When hanging more substantial pieces, I love using an Ook. Their design allows you to hold a heavy picture or mirror with the smallest of nails, thus, making the tinest hole in the wall…I love ’em. You can find Ooks at Home Depot, Linens and Things, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Ace Hardware stores.

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to comment and share your picture hanging tips.

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  1. Hi Susan…Glad to see you’re back on…after seeing your photo wall, it makes me wish I had a staircase to decorate as you did…just lovely! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Bo

  2. I love your wall display…the impact is very dramatic! You tied it all together with color, so smart! And a color I love, too ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. My hanging tip is to get my dh to hang my pictures for me. Of course the entire family gets involved because I’m short and I believe everything should be hung to my eye level which is too low for everyone else.

  4. RetiredAtLast says

    While I don’t have a staircase in my home, I do have a hallway that I consider to be “my picture gallery”. I also use straight pins as often as possible, because DH and I don’t like to leave holes in the wall, if I should change my mind about a picture’s location and decide to move it. I tolerated a huge blank wall for many years in the family room because I was afraid as soon as I put something there, I would change my mind. I finally solved my dilemma last year by putting a hanging rod, made for my purpose, on the wall. I now have a variety of quilt throws that I can change out to my heart’s content without any new holes in the wall. After all, variety is “the spice of life”. At least it is for me.

  5. Cathy Miller says

    Love this idea..I need to do something on my living room walls, and this would be a nice solution…now to find enough frames to do all the photos I have lying around!! Thanks for sharing!

    PS-I’m IN on the Tablescape Tuesday thing!!

  6. RetiredAtLast says

    BTW, a little birdie told me it is someone’s birthday.
    Happy Birthday, Decorator101.

  7. Debbie @ says

    Hi Susan I love your photo wall. It absolutely looks beautiful. Great job, and for such a great price. All the photos were great, I enjoy your blog so much and all you have to share. I am really looking forward to tomorrow “Tablescape Tuesday”. I only wish we could get together and have a delicious meal together…that my hubby could cook! And then everyone meet the kids….who would clean up….so we could all visit!

  8. decorator101 says

    Susan… It’s “great” to have you back.. Your staircase and your beautiful pictures are just gorgeous… This makes me want a staircase to be able to display some of our family pictures.. and trust me with all the grandchildren and the greats there are a I try to lay mine out on the floor first and arrange them..if I like what I’m seeing on the floor I then use that particular picture as a template and cut it out of brown paper and tape it on the wall..sometimes I leave them for a day or say to see if that arrangement is going to work…this has been the easiest solution for me..since I hang them all myself….hugs ~lynne~

  9. Lilnda/ "Mom..." says

    Dearest Susan~ My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to you, sweet friend, on the loss of your most beloved Jake. I’m sure you know how much I hurt for you. The following has helped me immensely when suffering great loss and living a great sadness:

    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there, I do not sleep.

    I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow.

    I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain.

    I am in the morning hush, I am in the graceful rush of beautiful birds circling in flight. I am the starshine of the night.

    I am in the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room.

    I am in the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing.

    So do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there. I did not die.

    Most sincere, heartfelt and warm hugs to you at the tremendously sad time.
    Love, Linda and Belle

  10. Good morning, Susan! I’m so happy to have my coffee with you this morning. I love your picture gallery. You are so right! LOTS of anything has much greater impact than just a large something. Take for instance CHOCOLATE! Lots of chocolate is always a good thing! I”m looking forward to Tablescape Tuesday. love to you, Carol

  11. imjacobsmom says

    You’ve definitely made the impact on the stairway, that looks great! You were lucky to have a Ballard’s Outlet. I wish we had decorative outlets near us – just clothes and COACH (yippe!) ~ Robyn

  12. Welcome back. Beautiful stairwall. I like the idea of mixing the mirrors and pictures. If you are doing Tablescapes, I’m in!

  13. glad to have you back…this looks fantastic!

  14. Susan,
    I have always LOVED your stairway wall!! Thanks for the great tips! This really leaves me thinking about doing this to mine. You have such a flair as to where to place each item. And love the shelves with the smaller pics…I wouldn’t have EVER thought to do that! Hope you’re feeling a little better?

  15. Ouuuuu I love it!
    I have been collecting mirrors to do my stair wall but I am loving the idea of mixing in family pics too and the sweet lil shelves would be great for candles too!

    You have inspired me!

    Thanks for shareing!

    Hugz, Dolly

  16. Hi Susan,
    Your wall is absolutely beautiful! It is such a lovely collection of family photos and wonderful mirrors. Thank you so much for the award — I will post it soon and try to pass it on. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope you are enjoying the weekend!

  17. Your photo display is great! And I’ve never heard of Ooks, but now I will be looking for them. I really don’t like to make huge holes in the wall. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Welcome back my sweet Susan.I just thought I would check and bam there you are.I’m so glad to have you peeking your head back out into the world.It’s hard I know.But keep trying my dear friend.You have alot of us beside you…Ann

  19. Pat@Back Porch Musings says

    I’ve just found your blog, Susan. Your stairway reminds me of Mary Carol Garrity’s in Atchison KS. I’ve toured her home a few times. The stairway is a favorite.

    I’m going to see about finding this book. Sounds wonderful. I’ve done a grouping in the dining room and living room and another at our place at the lake. Can’t wait to see what’s inside this book!

    I’m adding you to my list.

  20. Susan, thanks so much for the wonderful award, a first for me too! You are so thoughtful, AND inspirational – you have motivated me to finally finish my photo wall up my stairs. My photos are all framed and matted from my last house, so I’ve had no excuse for them to be in the moving box for 3 years! When the next hurricane passes, I’ll get to work, thanks to you! xoxoxo MK

  21. I love the combination of mirrors and old photos. I will be on the lookout for ‘Ook’s at the hardware store. I need all the help I can get! Sally

  22. Mary Ellen (megardengal) says

    Susan- I love your stairwell frame
    idea- I have been saving old mirrors for this purpose- the only thing is that my stairs are enclosed -not open like yours and I am wondering if it would be as nice. Love your look! :0 mary

  23. First I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved pet. I personally know that is so hard to do. They are family. I wish you peace in your heart and soul.
    Second I love your staircase gallery. It is gorgeous. I am so glad that someone else loves to hang lots on their walls.
    You have a wonderful evening.
    Jean in Virginia

  24. decorator101 says

    Glenda…. thanks so much for the wonderful birthday greetings…I know you’re as sweet as the “little” birdie that told you….hugs ~lynne~

  25. Susan, I absolutely love what you’ve done with your problem wall. It looks fabulous!! Thanks for showing the hangers you used too.

  26. Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity says

    Susan, I hope you are feeling better. I have been thinking about you. I love your wall display. I t brings back memories of how pictures were displayed on staircase walls when I was a young girl. I’ve always loved this look. Thanks so.. much for the award. It means alot coming from you!! I am honored. Hugs, Terrie

  27. nikkicrumpet says

    Hey Susan!

    I’m so glad you did this marvelous post. I have the same bare wall going up my main stairway. I’ve talked to my hubby about haning photos or artwork and he looks at me like I’m NUTS. He kept telling me it wouldn’t work and that you would knock them off going up and down the stairs. I can’t wait to show him this picture so he can see how wonderful this looks. It creates such a huge impact in your entryway. You really did a beautiful job with the spacing and the layout. I’m saving this to my favorites file so that I can use you as an inspiration when I finally dare tackle this task. THANKS!

  28. I am so glad you are feeling better.
    I love your beautiful wall. I wish I had a stairway to do the same thing. Just beautiful.
    love, bj

  29. Susan you are so kind to pass that along to me! Thank you so much! I will make sure to send it on to others! It’s so fun to spread the love.

    Now, your staircase is just beautiful! I recently did a project like this as well. I used just photos though. I wish I would have thought of mirrors as well. It turned out great for you though!

  30. Thank YOU for passing this beautiful award onto me! What an honor!



  31. Awesome grandfather clock that one. Not to mention those lovely framed pics on the wall.
    This is my first visit to the porch and very impressed with the shot of the porch on your about page ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Lenda Davis says


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