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Interior Designer Criticizes Family Photo 'Shrines' as Poor Taste in Home Decor


In the world of interior design, opinions can vary widely on what makes a house feel like a home. Some people love to display family photos prominently throughout their living spaces, creating what could be described as a "shrine" to their loved ones. However, not everyone is a fan of this design choice. One interior designer has recently spoken out, suggesting that having family photo "shrines" in the house is poor taste.

The Controversy

The debate surrounding the display of family photos in the home is nothing new. For some, these photos are a source of comfort and nostalgia, serving as a reminder of cherished memories. For others, the abundance of personal photos can clutter a space and detract from the overall aesthetic of a room.

In a recent interview, interior designer Joanna Klein voiced her opinion on the matter, stating that she finds family photo "shrines" to be a dated and unrefined design choice. She argues that while family photos definitely have a place in the home, their display should be more strategic and minimal.

A Shift in Design Trends

Klein's perspective represents a larger shift in design trends towards minimalism and simplicity. In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on clean, uncluttered spaces that prioritize functionality and aesthetics. This trend has led to a reevaluation of traditional home decor practices, including the display of personal photographs.

Klein explains that while family photos can and should be included in home decor, the key is to do so in a way that is subtle and cohesive with the overall design of the space. By incorporating family photos into a gallery wall or using them as accents in a room, homeowners can strike a balance between personalization and sophistication.

The Case for Family Photos

While Klein makes a compelling argument for a more restrained approach to displaying family photos, many homeowners still feel strongly about showcasing their loved ones in a more prominent way. For some, the presence of family photos throughout the home serves as a source of comfort and connection, infusing the space with a sense of warmth and personal history.

In defense of the "family photo shrine," some argue that these displays are a reflection of the homeowner's values and priorities. By prominently featuring family photos, individuals are expressing their commitment to their relationships and the importance of family in their lives.

Additionally, family photos can serve as visual storytelling, providing a window into the lives and experiences of the people who inhabit the space. In this way, personal photographs can add depth and character to a home, making it feel more lived-in and inviting.

Finding a Middle Ground

As with many debates in the world of interior design, the question of how to incorporate family photos into home decor ultimately comes down to personal preference. For those who share Klein's perspective, there are a variety of alternative ways to include family photos in the home without creating what she describes as a "shrine."

One popular approach is to create a gallery wall that showcases a curated selection of family photos alongside other artwork and decor. This allows for a more balanced and cohesive presentation, integrating personal photographs into the overall visual landscape of the room. Additionally, utilizing stylish frames and arranging the photos with intention can elevate the display, turning it into a sophisticated focal point.

Another option is to incorporate family photos into existing decor elements, such as using them as part of a tabletop vignette or incorporating them into a bookshelf display. By integrating personal photographs into the existing design elements, homeowners can create a more seamless and integrated look that feels intentional and thoughtful.

The Role of the Designer

As an interior designer, Joanna Klein's perspective on family photo displays reflects the evolving role of design professionals in helping homeowners navigate the complexities of home decor. With the rise of social media and the influence of design trends, individuals are increasingly seeking guidance on how to create spaces that feel both personal and stylish. Designers like Klein are stepping in to offer their expertise and recommendations on how to strike this balance effectively.

Beyond offering aesthetic guidance, interior designers are also focused on understanding the emotional and psychological impact of home decor choices. By working closely with clients to understand their values and preferences, designers can help homeowners create spaces that are not only visually appealing but also deeply meaningful and reflective of their lives.


The debate over the display of family photos in the home is a nuanced and highly personal one. While some designers like Joanna Klein argue against the idea of family photo "shrines" as poor taste, others see the value in prominently featuring personal photographs as a way of expressing love and connection.

Ultimately, the decision of how to incorporate family photos into home decor rests with the homeowner. Whether they choose to create a gallery wall of family photos, display them in more subtle ways, or forgo them altogether, the goal is to create a space that feels both stylish and true to their personal story. With the guidance of design professionals like Joanna Klein, homeowners can navigate this decision with confidence, finding a middle ground that reflects their values while still adhering to the principles of good design.

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