Tuesday, February 7, 2012

my map wall

A friend of mine recently encouraged me to post a photo of my "map wall" from my home office on Pinterest. The map wall has actually been "up" for about five years now, but apparently I've never posted about it. Shame on me - it's probably my most favorite feature in my home!

My original inspiration was a photo in a magazine from several years ago that showed exactly this - a wall covered in maps - although the magazine photo had maps that appeared to be antique and yellowed from age. I was absolutely smitten with it and couldn't stop thinking about it.

Here's the part where I tell you (again) how fantastic my husband is, and how he always "buys my chairs". (from "Phenomenon" with John Travolta - a must-see if only to understand this reference.) The home we live in came with an office painted in what I'll graciously refer to as "a remarkably ugly" decorating treatment. The walls were a dark green faux-leather finish (seriously?) with a wallpaper border where wall and ceiling meet and another border on the ceiling with mitered corners giving the (poor) impression of a tray ceiling. My husband agreed to replace it with the map wall!

So we collected maps for a couple of years from friends, family, and our National Geographic subscription until we had enough compatibly colored ones to fill the 12' by 8' wall.

The walls had to be sanded a bit to remove the faux-leather texture, and then we re-painted them a soft green-blue hue to coordinate with the maps. We first covered the map wall with a wallpaper-like primer. It is purchased in rolls and applied to the wall much like wallpaper with paste, and it will allow any future owners of the home to more easily remove the maps if they (for some odd, inexplicable reason) don't find this wall quite as fantastic as we do. The white background in the photo below is this blank wallpaper:

We first taped up the maps we liked (giving prime viewing space to locations we'd actually visited) in overlapping layers to determine their final placement and diagrammed their locations and the order that they needed to be applied. Then following our sequence of layering, applied wallpaper paste to one area at a time:

Placed each map over its "glue spot":

Checked to be sure it was level, and then smoothed it out to remove any bubbles and as many wrinkles as possible. Most of the time when I use the word "we" here it really means "he" as in my husband. He did 90% of the gluing and placing and smoothing, and he really deserves all the credit for this beautiful room :)

We use our old dining table as the desk in this room since it's large enough to accommodate a computer on each side, and because of that two people can work comfortably at the same time. To round out the travel theme, I arranged a bunch of destination postcards (another collecting obsession of mine) that I had purchased over the years across the desk top, and covered that with a custom cut piece of glass.

There are postcards from England, Italy, France, Spain, Austria, US National Parks, art museums, Washington DC, Hawaii, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, and good old Illinois.

Five years later and I still love this room - one of the best decorating decisions I've ever made. And now you know what I'm looking at each time I sit down to write a post or upload a photo :)

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