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Map It Out

We believe you can never have enough art in your home. Owning lots of original pieces is a dream for many of us here at Fresh American, but let’s face it: we don’t exactly have pockets deep enough to finance all that fabulousness. Luckily, there are endless varieties of everyday items that when given the design treatment suddenly transform into showstopping—and personalized—art. Take one of our favorites: map art.

Nothing beats a vintage map for an instant dose of retro flair; even though they’re one-dimensional and usually subdued in color, we love the layer of visual texture they bring to a space. The coloring on many modern maps and nautical charts—from sepias and duotones to the brightly multicolored posters of junior-high geography class—can serve as inspiration for a room’s palette. Look around for display ideas, like the ones pictured here from CocoCozyBetter Homes & Gardens,  House Beautiful, and the Designer’s Muse, and then think about the best approach for your interior space. We like to use maps:


1. As wallpaper. Whether you buy it in pre-printed sheets or use a patchwork of poster-size maps (a la this Apartment Therapy post), covering a room in maps makes an instant, been-around-the-world (or at least dreamed about it) style statement. With walls this busy, keep the furnishings and accessories simple, pulling from just a few colors in the map.

2. As a mural. Create an eye-catching accent wall with one of these designs from Wallpaper Murals, where you can even purchase a stock photo of your choosing and have it printed at mural size, or choose a collection of inexpensive large-format posters from All Posters.

3. As framed collections. This is the ideal use for a set of maps handed down from Grandpa or scored at a flea market. Choose one style of frame for a more unified look, or, for an eclectic approach, vary the collection with frames of different sizes and styles.


Love the look but still want your fix of original art? Try artists like Melissa Barbieri, who was recently profiled on the nattily nautical Shorely Chic blog, and who creates amazingly detailed and textured pieces.

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Mary Kelly Finegan June 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I love a home that has a strong sense of place, and maps are one great way of helping to achieve that feel.
A South Carolina guest cottage I stayed in had a large map of the area which emphasized the waterways in the region. The map was located on a section of wall in the 1st floor hall, at the base of the staircase. I spent some time studying it, and it added to the enjoyment of my visit.
I also love historic maps showing early settlements in the area.
Powder rooms and guest rooms are great places for interesting maps.

Debra Giampoli November 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I LOVE the powder room with the vintage map wallpaper. I have spent hours looking through wallpaper books to try to find it. Can’t find anything close. Lots of map murals and some very muted versions of vintage maps, but not this one. Is there any way you can help me find out who made it and where/how I can purchase it?

Thank you so much. I love your blog; just subscribed.


Fresh American November 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

Hi, Debra! It’s a beauty, isn’t it? We found that image on The Designer’s Muse blog (check our post for the link), so you might want to try there to find the exact source. We’re also crazy about some of the vintage-look map wallpaper at Wallpaper Wall Murals. Click here to take a peek at their current stock: http://www.wallpaperwallmurals.com/world-map-wall-murals

Amanda July 2, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Would love to locate the blue monochromatic wall map pictured above (featured in the British themed room). Any recollection of the source? Thanks for any feedback you can offer!

Fresh American July 3, 2014 at 10:59 am

Hi there, Amanda! That gorgeous map from PrintedSpace.com was originally featured in Ideal Home magazine. The company is based in the UK, but does ship internationally: http://www.printedspace.com/ideal_home_show.aspx


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