Peacock tail feathers up close.
Peacock tail feathers up close.

Decorating with Maps!

I love maps. Old maps, new maps, inaccurate maps, it doesn’t matter. I love how useful they are and yet they have a certain decorative appeal. The colors are generally soft blues and greens, or even vivid browns, yellows, and deep blues. Ever since my husband started bringing home expired airplane charts from the Air Station where he worked, I have tried to think of different ways to use them. It is a place where form and function meet beauty. They can conjure up images of places you have been, or just help you daydream about where you want to go. They scream ADVENTURE!

Present wrapped with an old airplane chart.

I generally use the old airplane charts to wrap gifts and if I am feeling spunky, I make sure the chart or map I am using somehow relates to the person I am giving the gift to. When I decorated my husband’s office last year, I used two shadow box frames, and framed two airplane charts from places where he used to fly often, making it personal and unique to him.

Shadow box framed airplane chart in my husband’s home office.

At the office where I work, the large world map is along one entire wall of the conference room. This is appropriate because it is an international aid organization. We have little red and blue pushpins all over the map to show where our programs are located around the world and where the staff are originally from. This is a source of water cooler conversation and inspires us to think globally, not to mention practical when I have to remember where Timbuktu is actually located.

Conference Room wall at Partners for Development, an international aid organization.

I have often thought I would love to tear the pages from an old atlas and wallpaper a bathroom, surely providing me with hours of endless entertainment while on the toilet. Or even just use the maps to line the bottom of a serving tray, or to line the outside of an old suitcase. Just finish it off with an acrylic sealer. I have a teapot that resembles a mini-globe. The globe itself can stand alone as sculpture and come in so many colors and shapes.

“I’m a little tea- pot, short and stout!”…

This free-standing globe, pictured below, came directly from Italy and is hiding a full bar inside. Love!

Globe doubles as a bar!
Standing globe with a surprise inside…
Family Room Wall Map.
Family Room Wall Map.

The old United States map on my family room wall is a favorite here in our home. The colors have aged into subtle blues, greens, and yellows and I love it’s presence. It seems to hearken back to a time when computers did not rule the world. Maps add a sense of nostalgia, were a valuable resource, and an indispensable source of information.

It is easy to track down old maps or charts. Try making a phone call to an Air Station, local airport with a flight school, or military airbase. They update the charts regularly and would probably be willing to give the expired ones away for free. Try the GoodWill (I refer to it as GW & Co.) and see if there is an old atlas lying around and once you have a few old maps, get to work and let the adventures begin!

© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.

5 responses to “Decorating with Maps!”

  1. Mariam, I love your blog! It is so interesting and creative, and so well written and illustrated! Now I know what to do with those world maps Doctors Without Borders keeps sending me!


  2. Wow! Neat as wrapping paper – but it would make SUCH a fun suitcase or briefcase – what a great idea!!


  3. Hi, where did you find the globe teapot? My fourteen year old is saving for world wide trip and is decorating her room and this would be perfect! Thanks for info. Sincerely Mara


    • Hi Mara, thanks for visiting my blog. The teapot was a gift from about 20 years ago, so I’m sorry to say I don’t know where it came from. Good luck with the room!


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