Family Photo Bookshelf Project

Family Photo Book Shelves (by A Beautiful Mess)I am so excited to share this family photo DIY project. In our hallway we have built in bookshelves that needed a little something. I made blueprint copies and then trimmed them to size (adding a half inch to each side). I used double sided tape to adhere them to the wall and then trimmed away any excess with an X-Acto knife. I spent two afternoons putting this together. Here are some detail photos-Old family photos used as decorationsOld family photos used as decorationsOld family photos used as decorationsOld family photos used as decorationsOld family photos used as decorationsFamily photo bookshelvesFamily photo bookshelvesFamily photo bookshelvesAll of the photos I used are family photos. Most of them are from my mother's and father's childhood. I'm nothing if not sentimental, so this was the perfect project for our home! Our families have already seen the project. It was really fun to show my grandparents the giant photo from their wedding day! 

I had so much fun working on this project. I hope that it inspires some of you to add more family photos to your decor in unexpected ways. xo. Elsie

  • LOVE what you did with the prints! I saw your instagram post, and printed some of my family wedding photos this way, and they turned out amazing! I’m getting married in May, and the reception venue has a giant mural that I want to cover up, so we are printing out family and friends wedding photos and plastering them up poster style over the mural. I’m so excited to see how surprised everyone is to see themselves in a 4 ft photo when they get there.

  • Hi Elsie! I LOVE this project. It is just so darling, and I have a ton of great photos of my husband’s and my family… thank you for sharing!

    I had a different but kind of related question, too. I finally came up with my four simple goals before 2013 (it took me forever!), and wasn’t sure where to share them. If that’s still open, I’d love to be a part of it. Thanks so much!

  • This is awesome! I wanna do this project. If only I’m as creative as you guys 😛

  • Okay, love love love this! For the past couple years I’ve been writing a series of letters back and forth with my grandparents asking them all sorts of questions about when they were growing up, working, falling in love, etc. I hope to display them with pictures in some way like this! Also, was super intrigued by your “personal stories” binder! I’ve had journals, dream books, etc. but never just a book full of written out, personal stories…definitely adding it to the “start the habit” list. Such a great way to share your life with those who are close to you and those in the future.

  • I don’t think there is a project of yours that I don’t love. Now if only I had the patience to try them all. Hopefully I’ll work on one soon for my new place.
    This one is really creative and original, I absolutely love it!
    Anne xo

  • That is a great idea!

  • I absolutely love this!! I totally am inspired to try to do this!
    Check out my blog:

  • On the subject of family photos, I saw a little photo of you & Mr. Larson in this month’s InStyle magazine! So cool!

  • I’m not too much into DIY, but this is something I’m mod def gonna try. Thanks for posting

  • Love your blog (and this idea!), Elsie and Emma! Thanks for always greeting me with a smile, inspirational ideas and the creativity to create a beautiful life. Wish you the best! xo Anne

  • Great project! I looove it! 🙂

  • What an awesome idea! This is SO great. I’m doing this as soon as possible in our house. It would go perfectly with our vintage style. Thanks!

  • Ohhh i’ve been waiting to see what you had planned for these photographs! It looks so lovely 🙂 and space saving too! You get all the great pictures without the space of the frame on a shelf 🙂 xx

  • I Love this idea… I am always looking for great projects suggestions for my clients to do to keep them busy and also bring them joy… I will be pointing them in your direction for this one.


  • I love this idea! I may have to do this. Since I’ve started grad school I’ve already grown out of 2 bookcases… This is a sweet way to showcase the books I’m reading. Xo Inna


  • this is so lovely!what a great idea!i have an old boring IKEA Billy bookcase that i think im going to try this on!all my loved one live far away so this is such a great way to feel like i have them with me every day…xxxxxx

  • Love this idea! I am not one for scrapbooking or albums but I do love old photos. One question, did you (or do you recommend) adding a protective coating of Modpodge or similar? I don’t know how durable this type of print is and wonder if, with putting books on the shelf and taking them off and all that, it would be a good idea to coat the prints in some way?

  • This is absolutely amazing! Refer a friend and Win
    Shop Dresses Online at CopperEtiquette and Refer A Friend And Win

  • Oh my gosh! I love that so much! How precious! I am such a fan of old pictures, and I think your bookshelf is perfect! I must do this someday! (when I have a good bookshelf!

  • What an amazing idea! I cannot wait to do something similar!! Thank you for the inspiration! xoxo

  • Such an inspiring idea. Love those old pictures and finally a beautiful way to present them, not just in a little wooden frame.

  • Such an awesome idea!!! I’ve done the same with my bookcase only I did it with vintage wallpaper
    but having blown up old picture prints is such a cool twist to it! They look beautiful! Well done!

  • I love it!! At my house, I have one of the parts of my bookshelf decorated with b&w pictures of my husband and I.

  • What a great idea! Have done this in a small scale but this is way more cool! xx

  • I wish had some cool family pictures around somewhere so I could this too, it’s a really nice idea.


  • Soooo cute!!! 🙂 🙂 The two girls kissing, who are they? The right one looks exactly like you 😀

    Best wishes,

  • I love this idea! Hope to test it out. Would look good in my nearly empty Billy IKEA book shelf 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration and the beautiful blog posts!

  • Love that! It’s a very beautiful project to show photos that have probably been hidden in a drawer for so many years!

  • Built in shelves are awesome! Your DIY is awesome! Family photos are awesome! Everything is awesome!

    Maria xx

  • It’s a beautiful project. Not only does it looks nice (espacially the fact that it is vintage and black and white, love the mix with pop colors on the shelf) but it is a so beautiful thing with a lot of meanings. Love that salute to family and history!

    Olive xox

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE this. What a wonderful way to incorporate family photos into your decor! So lovely, Elsie!


  • What a great idea! Love this! Definitely adds something to your shelves!


  • Oh my goodness, I LOVE this idea! Great way to bring memories to life again!

  • omg this was too awesome not to comment (2nd time for me in over a year- thats how awesome this is!). soooo inspiring! loveit loveit loveit !!!

  • This is super inspirational. What a great idea. I love looking at pictures of my parents’ childhood and also pictures when they were dating. 😉

  • What a great idea! I’ve put fabric or wallpaper behind bookshelves before, but this is such a cool idea. Thanks for sharing!


  • I love this so much! It’s such a good idea and it looks so beautiful. I may have to try it out on my desk shelves <3

  • This is such an original way to put up family pictures! I absolutely love it. I can’t wait to start working on our office, maybe well have room for a bookshelf that I could do this to!

  • This is incredible! SUCH a cooler idea than just painting the back shelves. I’ve got a couple of built-ins but this would be great in this cabinet I’ve been wanting to restore. Thank you!

  • This is so genius and makes me want to do this as soon as we get a new bookshelf. Thanks for the share!

    Cathy Trails

  • This is such a wonderful idea! A great way to commemorate the past. I have this weird “thing” about too many pictures of my boyfriend and I in our own apartment. Our space is small enough so it seems a little tacky to cover our place with photos of us. This is an excellent way to eliminate chunky frames and wall hangings, but still enjoy sentimental memories with friends and family. We will be stealing this idea!

    xx – Carly

  • What a completely wonderful DIY! Love this and hope to do something similar soon! (: Thanks guys.

  • stunning! I can’t wait to have my own home someday to do big projects like this! wonderful.

  • This is so cool! It’s a great way to do something with all the old pictures that are lying around somewhere in the back of a closet.

    xoxo, Femke

  • You guys come up with the best ideas! I have a fab plack and white photo of my mum and dad smooching in a photo booth in the 60s that would be great for this.Rx

  • Wow! You ladies are sooo very creative, I’m so happy I found your blog!!

  • such a great idea! def gona try smth similar

  • This is such an awesome idea! I should think of a place in my home where this could be executed. 🙂

  • It’s a very nice idea. Loving also old family photo I did another project, you are welcome to have a look if you like and tell me what you think

    +++ really enjoy your blog

  • I’ve been waiting to see what you were going to do with the blue prints. Looks amazing!!

  • This is a really great idea. I actually have a ton of family photos and have been thinking, “Man, I should do something with these.”

  • Wow I really like those shelves with the family photos!! What a cool idea!! It looks great!!

  • This is a wonderful and creative idea! I’m moving soon so I think that’s the perfect excuse to try this! Thanks for this post!

  • I have to tell you two ladies that I absolutely love your blog. You always have the most spectacular tutorials and crafty projects. This is so much fun and the black and white is so lovely. It really helps all of the other colors stand out against it.
    xx. Lou

  • This is a super cool project and something that is personal! I love it.

  • Such a good idea! And I also noticed that you have a copy of Homemade on your shelf…such a good book! I can’t wait to get my hands on Volume II…it’s on my xmas wishlist 🙂

  • elsie, you are a genius! i totally love this and really want to do it! you amaze me with the things you think of sometimes!

  • What a beautiful project! I always worry about built in shelves, and this was a great direction to take them.

  • AAMAZING IDEA. looks so great! I will do this now <3

  • This is an amazing idea! I think I’d have to choose photos with A LOT of negative space (I have tons of books), but I love the way you styled the physical elements with the photos. It could easily look cluttered, but your styling is amazing!

  • This is such an amazing idea! I love how personal, creative, and yet still aesthetically pleasing this idea is. Thanks for this!


  • love love love this project! so gonna copy you. and give you credit of course…ha!;)

  • I’m moving soon so I’m super inspired here! This is a very cute and personal way to decorate.

  • I love the way the photos are displayed. Black and white with colors makes it really pop. great idea!


  • Beautiful project! I love old family photos – I’m planning a project using old family wedding photos for my wedding, but I’ll have to keep in mind the other great uses for family photos! I really love this.

  • Great idea! My bookshelves are usually packed to all edges, but what a good solution for built ins that have odd sizes.

    Strive to Thrive,

  • I love this idea so much. I can definitely get pictures of my great grandparents and so forth. This will be fantastic–thanks so much for the idea!


  • My grandfather recently gathered old photos for me to use in my home…this is such a great idea! Now, if I only had built ins I would be as happy as a clam. 🙂

  • What a GREAT idea!! I have been dying to blow up some old family photos, but havent been able to figure out what to do with them. I’m not sure if this would work on my book shelves but it is really inspiring me to come up with SOMETHING to do! Thanks 🙂

    xx Ashleigh

  • Ok, this is fantastic. I have this thing for old photos … they’re just so cool! I love wondering about the stories behind them. And if it’s family photos, I love imagining what life would have been like for my grandparents (or whoever the pics are of) back then.
    SO awesome. Really beautiful project! Pinning it! 🙂

  • This is such a fun way to display old family photos. I love the large scale of the photos and it’s a great way to avoid cluttering up shelves, creative as always!

  • This is so inspiring and lovely. I can’t wait to do something similar when I get my own home!


  • beautiful! I love the chic but familial, cozy look of this. Great post!

  • Oh, Elsie! I have HUGE and I mean cavernous built-in bookshelves in my rental home. We move frequently and I tend not to hoard things…so my shelves are empty or collect junk. This is a lovely idea! Far more interesting then just patterned paper or fabric. An empty shelf is welcome with the photos in the background. Now if I could only find a way to get these architect prints in Spain. I don’t even know where to make copies! Thank you so much. Off to do some research and gather photos!

  • I absolutely love this! What a great way to decorate a bookshelf without having to buy expensive frames. I’m sentimental too, so I think this is perfect.

  • This has to be my fave post ever! I love how original and personal everything looks, I must try this now :3

  • It’s very pretty! What a great idea to use family pictures and the black and white photo’s match great with the white bookshelf. I can imagine the lovely memories you have when you see it every time.

  • Totally inspired here! I’ve been spending more time on your blog as we prepare to move into our new house, can’t wait to start diy decorating!! Really really loving these old pictures, what a great tribute to geneology.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.