Sunday, May 4, 2008

My Step Children

When blogger friend Jennifer suggested I join the Design Carnival hosted by her friend Mary at Not Before 7, my staircase of family photos immediately came to mind. This once neglected space is now a feature wall showcasing my children's baby photos. Our photographer framed the three square baby panels, so I chose silver frames and white mats at a craft store to coordinate with the professionally framed pictures. I wanted to create a cohesive grouping with the photos, so I arranged them on the floor before hanging them on the wall. I hung the bottom pictures first, then worked my way up the wall, careful to keep the perimeters of the grouping straight. A little removable putty tucked under the corners of the frames keeps the pictures from shifting, and I have trained the children to hold the banister when using the stairs to keep fingerprints to a minimum.

The top row of photos are hung, left to right, from oldest to youngest child. We lived in another state when our first child was born, so he was photographed in a different studio than our other three. Since I didn't have the same portraits for each child, I did some creative planning to make sure all were represented equally. One of my favorite photos is the second one on the second row. This photo of Carson with a blanket draped over his head was taken at a discount store photo studio. I loved Carson's expression in the photo, but was horrified that nearly half the 8" x 10" was a ratty blue bath mat. So I cut the photograph down to a 5" x 7", and now this humble photograph fits in nicely with our more formal portraits.

My middle two children, still 3 and 5 when I hung the pictures, watched with interest as I shuffled frames on the floor to find the perfect arrangement. They loved hearing how special each photo was to me. And when I was ready to hang the frames, they were eager to help. I can still remember watching them at the base of the stairs, beaming with pride as they clasped their 1-year-old portraits.

"Mom says this is one of her favorites," Christian said sheepishly. "She says I look like an angel in it."

"Well look at mine," Mary Ashley responded. "Mommy says I look like a princess in this one. I'm holding my dress like a lady."

The photo above may not convey the size of this grouping, but it is actually quite large. At its maximum expanse, the display is more than 6 feet tall and more than 5 1/2 feet wide. The lowest photos nearly touch the baseboards of the staircase, while the highest extend above the nearby door frames. My husband was unsure about this arrangement at first, but now he appreciates its impact. Whether you are walking down the staircase or standing on the floor below, there is always something to appreciate at eye level -- even for our littlest ones.

Our "step children" remind all of us how precious our family is. The children feel so special seeing their photographs prominently displayed on our wall of fame, and Joe and I are reminded each time we take the stairs how far we have come in raising them thus far.

Photo by Nathan Prichard


E. Tyler Rowan said...

Oh, this is such a precious idea! I have always wanted to put up my favorite pictures of my kids, but had nowhere to do it. I would have never thought of going beside the stairs.

And the tip for holding them in place... Can I just kiss your feet?! Thank-you!!!! I am made crazy by straightening wall hangings. You are my hero. :)

Three plus Me said...

That wall is just the best! You did a wonderful job!

Nancy Hood said...

what a beautiful arrangement of your love~

Momma Roar said...

That is so neat looking - what a great idea!

Do you worry about them being knocked off the walls when the kids go upstairs? That would be my biggest concern to do it right now, with ages 5, 3 and 1.

Very cute!!

Monica said...

Beautiful. What a great way to keep your favorite pictures on display. It would take me a long time to get to the top of your stairs:)

Leah said...

This is beautiful!

Judy said...

Melissa: I found your blog Saturday night (couldn't sleep and we had the grandchildren) I kept reading I realized that you were right "here" near me! We live in Montgomery, daughter and her family in Wetumpka! I'm a somewhat "retired" legal secretary working 3 days a week for a sweet little atty. my son's age. I am really enjoying your blog and the photos of your beautiful children.

Please visit me at when you get a chance.



Mary@notbefore7 said...

What a great idea. I am so glad you shared this. I have a stairway in the soon to be home on the left as you enter the house. It would be a GREAT place to do this. I have been framing black and white favorites in the same fashion, but love how you lowered it some.

The best part of this is the storied your kids now can retell about the pictures!

So glad you popped over and shared this!

Unknown said...

I have seen this in person, ladies and it is spectacular! :-) I love the title...very cute!

Jennifer P. said...

I am so sorry it's taken me this long to get over here again. I have so appreciated all your sweet and encouraging comments. I know my son has enjoyed reading Carson's blog.

Thank you for linking me. I'll do the same. I keep trying to cut my friends list down so I can get through it in 20 minutes or less, but there are simply too many great women not to stick on there :)!

Thanks for all the lovely Spring pictures to look at!

Louise said...

You did such a great job!! That looks so good!

Tara said...

Hi, I came across your blog recently. So beautiful! I love this display of photos & really love your playhouse!

I'm wondering if you could share with me how to put a small imeem track on my blog. (300x80) I like how small yours is. I've only been able to download the bigger one (300x380) Any hints would be helpful!

Thank you!

Traci said...

I found your blog through Mary's Design Carnival. When I saw your name, I wondered if it was the same Melissa Lester who I've heard speak a couple of times and who wrote the book about giving. Sure enough, it is! How exciting. What a small world. I live in Huntsville and attend West Huntsville Church of Christ. I look forward to checking your blog often and seeing all your crafty ideas. If you'd like to view my blog, I'd be happy to send you an invite. Just send me an email at I'll be back by later...

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Melissa, the picture wall is awesome! You did a really good job of choosing, framing, and arranging all the pictures. Best of all, though, is the story of your family woven through the display. I'm so glad you participated in the carnival - I just knew you would have something fun (and inspirational) to share!

Kristen said...

This idea is so precious. It turned out so good!

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