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Create a Family 'Portrait Gallery' to Display Photos


Q: I guess everyone has this problem if they're lucky enough to have a big family — what to do with all the family photos? Baby pictures flood in from both sides of our big families, and we love them but don't know how to display them. The piano is much too small. Any ideas?

A: Albums are one obvious answer. Label them prominently on the spine: "Bill and Mary's Adorable Children." Just be sure to pull out the appropriate volume when you're expecting Bill and Mary to visit.

Even more flattering for the photo-senders: Display them on a family wall. Nothing's more fascinating to others than people, even if they don't know each other. The more, the merrier, as you can see from the wall-to-wall family "portrait gallery" in the pictured townhouse.

Some 250 photos are on display, according to estimates from New York designer Carl D'Aquino, who worked on the house with partner Francine Monaco ( The "family archive," as D'Aquino calls the display, not only solves a photo storage problem; it also adds life and merriment to what had been a formal front parlor in a typically tall, narrow New York townhouse.

Limited storage space — another problem common to tall, narrow houses — is solved in an equally unorthodox and amusing way. On the opposite wall, an industrial-style storage unit is domesticated with a wrapping of handsome blue and white toile. Drop its flaps and hide the family's play items, neatly stashed in rows of storage bins.

Q: Help me decide on a color scheme for our new 1934 country house.

It's a farmhouse but still sort of formal, with a nice old fireplace, wide-plank floors and deep ceiling mouldings. Our furniture is casual country: wing chairs, roll-arm sofa (navy blue leather) and a couple of old chests. We like neutrals, but would that be too bland for a country house?

A: You've already made a good color decision by acquiring that navy leather sofa. What could be more American country than a blue, white and red color scheme with the sofa as its centerpiece?

Here is how designer Diane Durocher applied patriotic thinking to the room she decorated in the recent show house — the New York Holiday House, about as far from rural America as you can get. She painted the walls a deep, rich (not brown) red, used crisp, gloss white for dramatic contrast on the distinctive mouldings and upholstered her wing chairs in navy checks.

Her floor was dressed in an Oriental rug dominated by reds and blues; her coffee table was a grand, old studded leather trunk; and her accents included deer antler lighting fixtures and large framed posters of American eagles clutching Old Glory in their talons.

Dedicated to the Fourth of July, the room came as a fun surprise in the midst of the minimalist, sophisticated decor that dominated the rest of the show house.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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