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The Mapped Wall

It's amazing how a seemingly small detail can remind you of something from your past and turn into the next great idea.

Last month, I visited a young couple who had just moved into their first home in San Francisco. While we were chatting, the wife showed me three paintings that an artist made for her, each of a city that the couple lived in: London, New York, San Francisco. Immediately, the idea to wallpaper one of their walls in a map struck me, and so I asked, “Do you like maps?” That's when the mostly-silent husband's eyes lighted up and chimed in: "I love maps. When I was younger, I would pull out maps and just look at them for hours...." I too was reminded of my fascination with maps at a young age, climbing into the family station wagon parked in the garage, opening the glove compartment, pulling out the stack of maps, and following the thousands of lines with my finger as if through a labyrinth until my parents came looking for me.

In a world of Siri, Google Maps and GPS, it seems that paper maps are becoming a thing of the past, and yet there is a certain resiliency that keeps their existence relevant today. In interior design, the map has found its way into the home as a decoration that can remind us of our childhood, where we grew up, our national heritage, our favorite vacation destination, and that there is still an entire world to explore.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to creatively use maps to decorate the walls of your home (clockwise from top left):

1. An enlarged map of Italy is cut down, framed, and rejoined to create a unique collage-like wall display. (Image from The Refined Graduate)

2. Mazen Studio takes a blown-up vintage map and turns it into a wall mural that adds texture and just enough drama to this tone-on-tone bedroom.

3. Here a wall decal of a world map framed with a thick border and is cleverly installed at the joint of two walls. (Image from

4. More modern than a traditional map, the graphic metro map by Pixer is stripped down to just the color-coded lines and turned into a wall mural to create a colorful backdrop to this living room.

5. For a more formal feel, Greige Design framed and displayed a vintage map in a symmetrical grid.

6. Wallpapered offers colorful custom wall murals that add a punch of geographical brightness to a room.

For you DIYers out there, recreating these maps isn't difficult. Many online print shops, including custom wallpaper printers, can scan and enlarge maps to the desired scale. Then it's up to you to cut, frame, and hang your map as desired.

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