Decorating With: Vintage Maps

Not many of us have the luxury of jetting around the world, but hey…a girl can dream, right? And what better way to fuel the fantasy of international travel than by displaying a vintage map in your home! Old maps come in a multitude of varieties (world maps, state maps, maps of countries, topographic maps, climate maps, economic resource maps, political maps, treasure maps!) and they can be found in a wide range of styles and conditions.

(Desire To Inspire, etsy, eBay, eBay)
old_map around_the_world travelin take_me_there!
This pull-down map has definitely seen better days, but it’s the weathered patina that really makes it unique. I imagine this to be a guest bedroom in the home of an English couple who live in Africa…maybe it’s the simple wooden folding chairs or the woven straw basket, but there’s something decidedly not-suburban about this image. The worn wooden bar at the top of the map is the similar in tone to the chairs, which create a sort of balance on the bottom. From what we can see, the room’s palate is fairly simple and I love how the quilt picks up on the rich hues in the map, which is exactly the kind of map I would love to hang in a bedroom.

(Design*Sponge, eBay, World Maps Online, etsy)
Whoa, maps and globes? What a worldly household…This map is drastically different that the last, in several ways. It’s obviously less colorful, which allows for some bright pops throughout the room. Here, the striped rug, pillows, and throw are providing the cheery tones on an otherwise white canvas. The aged yellow of the map is echoed in some of the globe frames, as well as in the pillow and the wool throw…it’s very subtle, but that’s why it all works so perfectly. And unlike the last, this map is custom-framed in what looks to be burled walnut. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the wood takes a little detour about halfway down one side…I wonder if it’s the same on the other side?

(Domino, 1st Dibs, Justin Charles Books, etsy)
What a fabulous office! The clean lines of the desk and that charming chair provide some mid-century hints to this feminine working area and the topographic map could very well be from the same era. It brings wonderful summery hues into the space, giving some warmth to the cool, barely-lavender walls. This map has been hung by the pull-down bar rather than framed, which encourages a more casual vibe. What a great way to give yourself a view in a room with limited windows…just hang a map in front of your desk and you’ll have a colorful escape from those pressing deadlines!

(Blueprint, Dibs, eBay)
Try to picture this room without that rad vintage map. Pretty boring, huh? By hanging something with color and character in a workroom, storage room, or a room that isn’t often used, you’re making it ten times more enjoyable! This sunny, whitewashed space looks to be some kind of craft room and I guarantee that projects are more likely to get finished when you actually enjoy your surroundings. I love the clean white walls and floors and the industrial vibe brought in by the lockers and shelving unit. Now don’t we all wish we had such a wide-open, well-organized work area like this?

I’ve got a series of vintage topographic maps of the state of Tennessee that I plan to frame and hang in a grid. I found them on Craigslist and bartered a few CDs for the set of 9 maps. You can also score some really unique maps at thrift stores, if you’re willing to dig. The antique school maps that pull down can fetch a high price, but they’re sure to be a stunning focal point in any space.

If you’re currently hunting for a vintage map, I’d love to know what kind you’re looking for…Your home state or country? Your favorite vacation destination? The continent where your ancestors are from? Or just something with great color and character? Tell me!

Author: dean
Dean Fisher, a Southern ex-pat, recently moved to Chicago after spending the last seven years in Los Angeles working for Kelly Wearstler, Warner Music Group, and Capitol Records. When she's not thrifting or planning her next adventure, she's writing for her blog, My Little Apartment (, and working on launching South Social & Home, an events and interior design company.