best of: maps

From collecting vintage embroidered maps to using them as project inspiration, maps certainly are a favorite around here! I can’t wait to fill my new library space with vintage maps. It’s such a great way to bring something personal into your home — to remember a favorite place you’ve been, or remind you of some place you want to go or even where you are at the moment. I pulled some of my favorite examples of maps in homes from the sneak peek archives. In addition to trolling the usual suspects (flea markets, thrift stores and eBay) for vintage maps, you can find great map reproductions at the New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery. — Amy A.

Click here for more Design*Sponge “Best Of”s (dining rooms, entryways, bedrooms, wallpaper, playrooms, bikes, chandeliers, white living rooms and more).

A Couple Modern Map Favs

Image above: Jesse and Whitney Chamberlin hung this roller map in the dining room of their Atlanta home.

Image above: Kathleen Boonen and Jan Donhardt found this old map at a market in Ibiza.

Image above: Map in Jen Mankins’ Brooklyn home

Image above: This map of the USSR was found in a junk store in Knoxville, TN. Now it hangs in the Hayden-Harnett Brooklyn home.

CLICK HERE for more maps in homes!

Image above: Amy Salvini-Swanson of Greenwich Letterpress hung this map of Paris above her snow-globe collection.

Image above: School map in Kristen Stocks of Deluxa’s Brooklyn dining nook.

Image above: A framed US map in Rinne Allen’s southern home.

Image above: This map in Ruthie Sayles’ East Nashville home is an old print done in the late 1800s of her hometown parish in Louisiana.

Image above: An old educational moon chart hangs in Liz Demos’ son’s bedroom.

Image above: Rion Nakaya found this giant world map made of felt Velcro pieces at The Conran Shop.

Image above: A collection of globes found at flea markets in Jesse and Alex’s Brooklyn home.

Image above: This map is a reproduction of Turgot’s 1737 plan of Paris — it’s so large that it serves as the headboard in Gabriel Wick and Olivier’s Parisian home.

Image above: This subway map in Brie Harrison’s home was originally a piece of wallpaper.

Image above: A school map in Angela and Barkley’s Chicago home.

Image above: The white matting and white frame bring out the blues in Abby Clawson’s world map.

Image above: This giant map of Europe from the early 40s more or less dictated the color palette for this whole room in Mackenzie Farquer’s home in Queens, New York.

Image above: A collection of smaller maps above the bed in Wanwisa Posner’s bedroom.

Image above: Hilda Grahnat hung a map of Manhattan in her home in Sweden.

Image above: The nautical map on the mantle in EmersonMade’s New Hampshire home charts the ocean from NYC to Maine — it traces the couple’s move from Manhattan to New Hampshire.

Image above: A chalkboard pull-down map that still has perfect teacher-cursive handwriting on some of the states in Vynsie Law’s Dallas home.

Image above: Maps from an antique local county-court plat map in Sarah Ridgely’s dining room.

Image above: Colorful map in Dana d’Amico’s kitchen!

Image above: Framed map propped up on a desk in Fitzhugh and Lyndsay’s Brooklyn home.

Image above: Stacy Sargent loves maps, and she found this 1935 World Atlas at a vintage consignment shop.

Image above: Love this little map tucked up above the perfume laboratory in Anne McClain’s home.

  1. I love the color-scheme in maps. I have a giant nautical map that takes up the whole wall in my bathroom and get so many compliments on it.

  2. LOVE! I REALLY want a pull-down map in my house somewhere, a-la Sleepless in Seattle…

  3. Love love love this post!

    -Chic Done Cheap

  4. Briana Wall says:

    I have that subway map as well! For those who are interested, it’s made by Cavallini & Co. as gift wrap, and you can purchase it (along with some other neat maps) here!

  5. Dianne says:

    Love these maps as art pieces- very unique applications. I recently went to my local heritage museum and purchased copies of town maps for +/-4.50 each. Worth investigating if you are on the hunt for meaningful maps.

  6. miki steiner says:

    Love the article, and I just adore maps. I used two maps in my kids’ study and hung a frame over them. My osns love to explore them. Visit my blog to take a look

  7. Hannah says:

    Some great maps in this collection, my personal favourite is the velcro one! Great for a kids playroom.

  8. Sooooo excited to see that I was featured on the best of maps! I do love maps!! Thank you!

  9. FinderMaker says:

    Best of maps! What a great idea! It is fun to “walk down memory lane” checking out the old Sneak Peeks. The felt map from the Conran Shop is pretty amazing.

  10. I looove maps! Especially since I started traveling myself. The children’s one is so cute!

  11. Sharon says:

    I love the perfume laboratory one, too. :)

    I love how these maps capture one point in time in the history of the world so sharply.

    The blackboard map reminds me of when the old junior high was torn down in my hometown. . . when it was in progress, you could look into the classrooms that had half of their walls and floors missing and still read the writing on the blackboards.

  12. Jo Chopra says:

    What a treat! What a collection! Impossible to choose a favorite. And all the rooms these maps adorn are also beautiful and whimsical, full of imagination and charm. Thanks so much for pulling this one together.

  13. Clare Pirie says:

    I could look at all these pictures all day….I love old and vintage maps used as decor, thanks for putting this selection together. All used in different ways in different spaces but looking fabulous!

  14. laurel says:

    Very cool. My two favorites are the moon chart and the chalkboard map. I recognized a few of the maps from elementary and middle school!

  15. I love maps so much! I found an amazing one at a vintage paper show once, but let my friend buy it instead so I’m still on the hunt for the perfect one to go in our apartment.

  16. Rachel says:

    I love maps!! This is like candy for me… i have multiple globes and i hand painted a map a few months ago, check it out here:

    It also has some really great vintage globes i found with monsters painted on it or “Peace” with doves

  17. Jeb says:

    Great post! I use vintage maps in my artwork. I’m always on the hunt for them.

  18. DominiqueD says:

    This is the best best-of ever!! I love maps!!
    My mom (an antique dealer) is always bringing me some back from the states…I have a huge one of south america that use to hang in a french classroom, a huge world one, and a really nice scotland map with clans and emblems :)

  19. Janeise says:

    Enamored with the reading nook in Rinne Allan’s home!

    I love maps, globes, and atlases. I recently scored an atlas published the year I was born. I think it will be neat to look back one day and see how much has changed.

  20. Proof that maps and globes as decor is always a good idea… *adds to ever growing apartment wishlist*

  21. Katie says:

    Maps are amazing! For my husband’s birthday, I am putting together one of these family travel maps to hang above his office desk at home. I can’t wait to get all my supplies and start mapping out our adventures! I will be on the lookout for vintage maps for future projects as well!

  22. chiccham says:

    love maps . on adore les cartes

  23. Sam says: – This is our pull down vintage classroom map.

  24. Lisa says:

    I just got a large sum of maps from my grandma so I’m glad to see what others have done with them.

  25. Mikaela says:

    Thanks a ton for this post! I am a map FIEND. I love old maps with calligraphy and fantastic creatures in the oceans.

    I made my husband a chalkboard world map for Christmas so we can plot our next adventures. Here it is:

  26. Eva says:

    yay, great! I collected about 13 maps last year, all soilmaps from Holland. They have the most beautiful colors. I look at them all the time, can’t wait to get a bigger house so i can display them all!

  27. Andrea says:

    Thank you so much for this map inspiration – I just purchased a (fake) vintage map and have been considering how (and where!) to use it.

  28. delia says:

    I jumped in the dumpster at the town dump when we lived in VA to retrieve a 1950s atlas. My husband has been in the Marine Corps for 19 years and I have always framed pages of that book to represent where we’ve been. We have quite the collection of them in our living room.

    Last year we added the framed page of Afghanistan to our collection so the kids could see where Dad was spending the year away from us.

  29. Caroline says:

    I love love love old maps and i always try to spend one day a month at The Old Print Shop in NY looking through their old map section- they are all original and some are from as early as 15th century! I usually have to get reproduction maps from NatGeo or Ebay, but its so fun to look at the detailing and beauty of the real things.

  30. meikie says:

    I’ve been hording some old britsh ornance survey maps, I love the colours and consider them a thing of beauty always wanted to use them in my work, or for book covers. So inspiring! Must use them soon!

  31. Emilia says:

    I’m a swede so it’s always so exciting to the see the swede things, and now a map. Yeey!
    Love from Stockholm!

  32. Meg says:

    Yea for maps! I covered the whole wall in my son’s room with maps using spray starch. I wasn’t sure it would work, but been a year and they still look good, save a few stray marker scribbles.

  33. Kate says:

    My husband is obsessed with maps, thanks so much for the great inspiration!

  34. ELISE says:

    Great post! Do you remember doing salt maps in school ? Messy and fun.

    I heart you blog,

  35. Nicole says:

    Love the map as a headboard idea. Lovely!

  36. Autumn says:

    I spend a good deal of my time making maps (mainly for weddings). I used to find it so arduous – such a different kind of design. But, my appreciation of the process has grown and now I LOVE it. My father and I recently talked about it, and he told me that my great-grandfather was a map maker and type-setter in Alief, Texas in the 40’s and 50’s. What a cool thing to share with him! All that to say that I love seeing maps appreciated from a design/art perspective. Thank you for such a beautiful collection!

  37. isavirtue says:

    i’ve never even been anywhere interesting but i have a thing for maps too! i think aesthetically speaking they are just beautiful.

    what an amazing collection of images of maps used in home decor! well done d*sponge!

  38. I love maps as art! I have a few but I definitely need more!

  39. Stacey says:

    love this! just *had* to add this awesome photo of roller maps turned into roller-style window shades!! it’s genius! and the sunlight pouring through the colors of the countries is just amazing!

  40. I think one of my favorite things in my house is the vintage school map of NJ I found tucked in a corner of an antique store going out of biz. Score!! :-) So needless to say, I loved this post.

  41. Maria Brown says:

    Here’s a great resource for all of us cartophiles– has hundreds of old map reproductions on their website, check it out; they’re quite reasonable.

  42. Becky Smith says:

    How about vintage maps as unique gifts?

  43. Rick Shaver says:

    I can think of nothing more beautiful than a map on a wall. It stirs the imagination and swells the heart to what might be across the world. I can remember sitting in school fantasizing about all the places I’d go when I grew up. Now I look at a map and remember all the places I’ve been. Thank you for the lovely post.

  44. Ashleigh says:

    I LOVE maps, they are so colourful and meaningful. I recently updated an old IKEA lack table with pages from a 1943 atlas, so chuffed with it :-)

    I am now on the hunt for a wicked vintage globe to go on our sideboard.

  45. Kyle perry says:

    Have lots of vintage pull down maps I would like to sell if you are interested email me


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