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Map Quest

by habituallychic

06 . 03 . 08

I was thinking about art for the Bachelor Pad make over I’m currently working on and one thing that I suggested was a vintage nautical chart from Cape Cod that shows the town where his family has a summer home. I showed it to him and he actually liked it which is good since it’s very reasonably priced on eBay and we don’t have much money to go crazy.

Conveniently enough, I thought it would also make a good blog topic since a lot of other people also decorate using vintage and new maps in a myriad of creative ways. The vintage nautical chart of Long Island (above) hangs in the Sag Harbor home of Margot Brunelle Fooshee, who is head of marketing for the J. Crew clothing company, and her husband. The house which was published in House Beautiful last summer previously belonged to Steven Gambrel and Ruthie Sommers designed it for the couple. Can you imagine?! What a lucky little house!

T. Keller Donovan took the map idea one step further and displayed them en mass on the wall of his Miami home that was also published in House Beautiful. He actually found the 1943 Miami Beach plat maps at Paula Rubenstein in New York which is pretty funny.

Kerry Joyce wallpapered the bedroom wall in a maps to create a beautiful and serene backdrop. I love the colors of nautical charts since they are almost always made up of pale aqua and tan colors which are my favorites.

Just published in the June/July issue of Domino is the Nantucket cottage of photographer extraordinaire, Matt Albiani, who also wallpapered a bedroom in nautical charts that faded over the years. Matt is actually very close friends with a girl who used to be my roommate in Boston. It’s a very small world. I’ve met him a few times and he is as nice as he is talented. You can also see his New York apartment in the issue and online in a video house tour.

This bedroom looks like it was papered using new maps including a few from Paris. Kate’s Paperie in New York has maps printed on sheets of paper that would be perfect for this option.

Last but not least is the bathroom decoupaged in marine blueprints in the Maine house of Gwen McGaw that was designed by Windsor Smith and published in the premier issue of Vogue Living in 2006. Very creative and original!

The possibilities of decorating with maps seems endless and also a perfect DIY project for summer! I was also thinking that maybe we should all start buying up maps now before they vanish due to GPS and internet! Just don’t bid on any of Cape Cod! The auction hasn’t ended yet for the one I need!

Comments Closed

  1. GGG June 3, 2008 | 11:35 pm

    I absolutely adore this idea! I always see bins of old maps while shopping at the flea market and now, with these wonderful ideas, I think I might just buy a few. Thanks for the share!

  2. Fifi Flowers June 3, 2008 | 11:37 pm

    Maps are a nice touch! IKEA has a nice BIG map. I love how you keep talking about this project… dangling the carrot of anticipation under our noses!

  3. maison21 June 3, 2008 | 11:42 pm

    at the los angeles modernism show, one of the dealers took what looked to be 8 1/2″ x 11″ antique map plates from an atlas, or perhaps from a larger map that they cut into smaller pieces, then they framed the individual plates in identical black and gold frames (i’m thinking stock frames because of the smaller size) and hung them massed together- about 5 feet by 6 feet- so they read as a single large artwork (similar to the t. keller donovan example you’ve shown, but edges of the frames all touched).

    the effect was really stunning, and though none of the pictures i took of it turned out, i’ve definitely put it into the old memory bank for future use. i remember thinking it would be PERFECT if ever i were to design a… bachelor pad!

  4. Habitually Chic June 3, 2008 | 11:55 pm

    GGG, the possibilities of projects is endless. You could even cover boxes or wrap presents with them. I love Maison21’s idea below too!

  5. Habitually Chic June 3, 2008 | 11:56 pm

    Fifi Flowers, I feel like if I keep talking about it, then it will come to fruition. We had a minor crisis of funds today that was thankfully averted but the Bachelor is a bit of a flake and I’m soooo afraid that he’s going to pull the plug. Keep your fingers crossed!

  6. Joanna Goddard June 3, 2008 | 11:56 pm

    love these. what a great post.

  7. Habitually Chic June 3, 2008 | 11:59 pm

    Maison21, I LOVE that idea!!! I have a lot of wall space to deal with economically and that might be an interesting solution. I will of course credit you with the idea!

    One question, were the maps matted or just framed?

  8. maison21 June 4, 2008 | 12:16 am

    they were just framed. the idea was probably fairly inexpensive, but looked like a million bucks.

    no need to credit me- i stole the idea from somebody else!

  9. mrlfvl June 4, 2008 | 1:00 am

    I just recently finished a project – a river house on the Chesapeake Bay – and we wallpapered a powder room in topographical maps from the U.S. Geological Survey website store:


    you want the 1:24K maps – they measure 22″ x 27″

    they cost $6 each…can’t beat it…and you can search by state and city, county, town, etc.

  10. Fifi Flowers June 4, 2008 | 4:03 am

    I will cross my fingers… it looks like a great project!

  11. An Aesthete's Lament June 4, 2008 | 11:19 am

    Diana Vreeland once said to hang your little boy’s bedroom with maps so he doesn’t grow up with a provincial view of the world.

  12. Anna Spiro June 4, 2008 | 11:36 am

    SO many wonderful map clad rooms here!! I am currently doing a little boy’s room which we are wallpapering in a Ralph Lauren map paper!! Haven’t commented in ages but I check in on you daily via my bloglines!!

  13. Alice Olive June 4, 2008 | 1:21 pm

    Wow, these are all beautiful. I love how your friend is so open to your ideas for his pad too. I love that he’s giving you freedom – particularly because we’ll get to see the results!

    Something about a map is masculine and also minimalist to me, but I can’t quite articulate why. I just know I like it!

  14. Pigtown-Design June 4, 2008 | 1:41 pm

    I worked for an environmental non-profit in an old church and we had the office walls papered in nautical charts of the Chesapeake Bay. When we needed to find some cove or point, we’d have to get up on the desks to find it. I’ve always used maps to decorate. Cheap and cheerful!

  15. The Knittymommy June 4, 2008 | 3:13 pm

    I love that you featured maps as wall art. I just received reproductions of maps of my home country – the Philippines, that were supposedly created during the time of Ferdinand Magellan and Christopher Columbus. I had plans of them up in a similar manner to T. Keller Donovan’s. Thanks for posting that photo. I can now show my DH what I had in mind for those maps.

    By the way, your site has been a major source of inspiration for me. Thank you.

  16. morrismore June 4, 2008 | 3:19 pm

    In the 1980s I happened to be a guest of the Twining family in Greenwich. Their grandmother had covered the walls and ceiling of the large entrance hall and living room with maps. I remember looking up and seeing a map of pre revolutionary Russia glued to the wall. The randomness of the arrangement (and the fact that none were framed) added to the overall feeling of slightly rundown but still chic style. There was an old chintz covered sofa in the kitchen as well!

  17. katiedid June 4, 2008 | 4:14 pm

    I always love a good map. There are alot int he recent magazines aren’t there? I love the Domino article…he used allthis great stuff in an inexpensive way since it was a rental. I love that!

  18. That Girl Designs June 4, 2008 | 9:48 pm

    maps as art on the wall – a brilliant idea and a great way to recycle. you are right, this was a great idea for a post.

  19. pve design June 5, 2008 | 1:13 am

    Several months ago, I had asked Joni from Cote de Texas about painting a boys nursery and she inpsired me to paint an old map, sisal rug, natural fabrics and dark wood. Good to see that great design minds think alike.
    Can’t wait to see the bachelor pad.

  20. The Lil Bee June 5, 2008 | 1:30 am

    I love this idea…love it!…and that bathroom image is perfection. You will laugh when you see a post I made just days ago called, well, Map Quest! …


  21. LondonCalling June 5, 2008 | 2:08 am

    A few weekends back at the flea market I found a huge battered school pull-down map. It has brown leather on the bottom and is kind of a sepia tone and so distressed. My boyfriend shook his head at me when I bought it for $5. Told him to “trust me”. Can’t wait to use it.

  22. Robin June 5, 2008 | 2:53 am

    I once passed up a opportunity to buy an antique map of my hometown for super cheap and always regretted it. But I had forgotten all about it til I saw your post and I’ve been looking to change up the art in my bedroom… great post!

  23. franki durbin June 5, 2008 | 6:34 am

    Man I love the effect of those maps! The T. Keller Donovan installment is the best IMHO. I love the impact the large grouping makes. Sleek and vintage at the same time.

    And yes, talk about a lucky house!

  24. Susan June 5, 2008 | 4:41 pm

    HC – I was given years ago, from my father, a beautiful light up world globe – I believe you could find one for not too much money on Ebay. It would be a nice accent piece to a collection of maps on the wall.

    that’s all

  25. Easy and Elegant Life June 6, 2008 | 8:37 pm

    I’m dangerous with a map, always have been. This seems a far safer way to approach them rather than relying on me to find a route…

    I’d love to paint one on the floor of my son’s room. Failing that, painting a wall, (or papering the walls now that you’ve shown me how it can look) and running red “travel lines” (like in the movies when the hero flies from continent to continent) from place to place that Mrs. E. and I have traveled is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time…

    Maybe just a screen…