Last week I was talking to my beautiful, smart, and always funny friend Liz McGarry, most likely about something (naturally) not work-related such as our favorite podcast My Favorite Murder or the world of witchcraft in general; and it didn’t take long for the conversation to derail into her newly adopted, Instagrammable cat, Cronkite.

Liz, who had recently moved to a new apartment, was showing me a picture of the stunning Cronkite when I happened to notice the artistically decorated walls right behind him. Liz confessed that after she had put together this arrangement of photos, lithographs, and paintings, this corner had rapidly become her favorite spot in her new apartment.  She was inspired by the talent that one of her eccentric aunts had for collecting instant ancestors.  Instant ancestors, as Liz’s aunt puts it, entails collecting portraits, of sometimes famous people, to feature around one’s house, while referring at them as relatives.  Occasionally, the new additions to Liz’s family, which included movie stars, famous politicians, and the random unavoidable royalty, would even be accompanied by stories and detailed bloodlines.

Although extremely fun, her aunt’s perspective is not all that outlandish.  Initially, when I started working in antiques, I was surprised by the willingness of people to sell their ancestors’ pictures, while I was equally surprised by someone else’s proclivity to buy them. The buyer in most cases would not get to know anything about the behind-the-glass person that he or she was bringing home.

Watching the new season of Instant Hotel on Netflix over the weekend, good taste doyenne, Juliet Ashworth reminded every contestant that houses without portraits are somehow soulless and feel unloved, looking like a hotel, which despite the name of the show is something to be avoided.  Ms. Ashworth, (who queer scholar Karen Tongson from PopRocket once identified as the Lisa Vanderpump of Australia’s reality tv), definitively uncovered something that I had not been able to pinpoint before; there are some spaces that lack personality and a portrait is a good tool to turn a room around and make it instantly more interesting.  I would like to think that my admired imaginary friends at the podcast Las Culturistas, would make this Rule of Culture #330.