How To Turn Lo-Resolution Photos Into High Quality Art with Meaning

The other day I shared my thoughts on the best part of designing in my intro to a three part series of sponsored posts for Folger's "The Best Part" campaign.  I mentioned that whether I'm working on a project for myself or a client, the best part of designing is when I get to incorporate elements with special meaning.  Things that not only look amazing, but bring the homeowner's happy thoughts and the "warm and fuzzies".  After all, "He Who Is Happiest Is He Who Finds Peace In His Home" ~unknown author of awesome quotes. 
Today, I would like to share an experience with a client where I got to incorporate something very special.  I recently had the amazing opportunity to help Sara and Erik design their brand new living room (click here to see before/after photos). We needed something substantial for a large area between two windows.  Whatever we chose had to be special, this is one of the main focal points in the space.  
Here is what I came up with...
And here is how it came to be...
When I first met with Sara she mentioned that she would love to incorporate photos from her and Erik's travels into the space, but she was concerned about the quality (resolution) of the images.  They were quick snap shots taken with a travel friendly digital camera while they were backpacking through Europe.   I asked her to put some of her favorites on a flash drive so I see if we could improve the quality enough to enlarge them. 
I narrowed down my favorite photos to these two...
(Prague, Czech Republic)
(Krakow, Poland)
As you can see, the subject matter and composition of these photos was already pretty awesome.  To make them even more awesome, I enhanced them with simple photo editing techniques in my iphoto program.  To begin, I uploaded both photos to my iphoto library and clicked on the "Edit" tab. 
Under "Quick Fixes" I cropped and straightened both photos.  Then under "Effects" I flipped the images to black and white and gave them a "Boost".  To make these low resolution images appear sharper, I played around with the photos under the "Adjust" tab.  I increased the contrast to 100, lightened the level to 25% and kicked up both the definition and sharpness to 100.
Here is what they looked like after I was done editing…
I sent the photos to Sara in an email so she could have them enlarged and printed at the photo center of her choice.  I recommended a low luster photo paper to avoid glare once they were framed.  
We chose large gallery style black frames with over-sized white mats (Potterybarn) to give these photos an even larger appearance.
To anyone else, these framed photos just look like really cool art, but to Sara and Erik they have meaning and memories attached to them.  To me, that is the best part of design, when something not only looks amazing, but makes us feel something.
"The Best Part" is an online community that’s dedicated to brightening your day—every day. How? By spreading optimism, one share at a time. The Best Part posts inspirational stories, encouraging quotes, good news and other upbeat items on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—and encourages fans and followers to share that optimism with their friends. Because when optimism is shared, it grows, making an even more positive impact on our world. Check out what others are sharing on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


For information on my affordable online design consultation service, click here
© Copyright 2013 The Yellow Cape Cod


  1. love the room, of course :) and especially the picture of my sweet darling beans.

  2. Thanks for this information. I hope to do this for my son for Christmas!!! LOVE your work.


  3. This is really cool! I was wanting to do a DIY for my Mother-in-law and she has tons of old family photos that would be neat for this.

  4. Great article. I can really see myself doing this for my home.


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