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Decorating with…Maps!

For me, one of the most daunting design challenges comes in facing an expanse of blank white wall. If I were an Unhappy Hipster, I could embrace the void – but as it is, the shear emptiness taunts me. What are you going to do? If you put a single print up, is it going to get lost? If you fill it up with a cluster of smaller prints, is it going to get too busy? Vintage and contemporary maps offer a great alternative for approaching those larger blank spots in your home, providing an immediate impact without forcing you to take out a second mortgage. Most older, pull-down maps can be between 4 to 5 feet wide in size, much larger than a standard print or painting. They also generally cost less than $300 – so for the price of framing a much smaller piece you get something twice the size that doesn’t need to be framed. Score!

black write on mapschool map in the kitchen

pull down school mapsouth america map

We love vintage maps! Here's the one hanging in our dining room.

If you’re looking for something smaller, or more contemporary, chances are there’s a map that’s going to appeal to you as well. A wide range of graphic designers have approached mapping in nearly every way imaginable – taking advantage of the inherent interplay of linework with text and using it to create some truly striking imagery.

these are things boston neighborhood

"These Are Things" Neighborhood Maps are Pretty Awesome!

boston neighborhood map detail

europe yellow map

Once on the wall, maps trigger the imagination like all good art does. Sitting on our couch, I often find my head drifting towards our simple United States roadmap, sucked into the maze of lines and colors that tell their own story. “Pascagoula”, “St. George”, “Ticonderoga”, “Black Mountain” – the names bring me back to places I’ve been and lead me to places I never knew existed.

mississippi river mapnautical maps

map over bed

If you would like to add some personality to your empty walls, check out the cool and quirky vintage maps, globes, and German educational charts now available at the Ampersand Vintage Modern webshop.

Photos courtesy of Design*Sponge, Apartment Therapy, These Are Things, and Elle Decor. Thanks!


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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Plus you get your learnin’ on

    February 28, 2012
    • So true, Blake…so true. Andrew loves staring up at ours. It’s kind of weird.

      Thanks for the comment!!

      February 28, 2012
  2. Thanks for this awesome post and the great map pictures! I just featured one of them on my post about the beautiful, inexpensive maps and vintage map prints available through the US Department of the Interior. You should check out their store!

    March 14, 2012

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  1. The Promise of Adventure: Decorating with Maps « the cabinologist

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