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Decorating with Maps

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Maps chronicle centuries of exploration and discovery. Decorating takes a similar approach. We chart our own adventures and favorite places through the items we put into our home. This creates a "map" of items unique to each space.

The way you decorate your home is a telling and personal guide to your life and style but giving maps literal representation in your home has just as much impact.

Because maps have such a graphic quality, e.g. their sweeping lines, color blocking, and typographic elements, pretty much any kind of map or combination of maps will work well decoratively.

Here are some rooms that utilize maps beautifully.

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Because of the variety of lines and colors on maps, even the most random assortment of them looks fantastic. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

1 Because of the variety of lines and colors on maps, even the most random assortment of them looks fantastic. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

Martha's dogs look great with the maps in her Maine home, Skylands. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

2 Martha's dogs look great with the maps in her Maine home, Skylands. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

Martha hanging maps in a passageway at Skylands (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

3 Martha hanging maps in a passageway at Skylands (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

The way she has arranged the frames so closely together is beautiful. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

4 The way she has arranged the frames so closely together is beautiful. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

Another shot of Martha's map handiwork. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

5 Another shot of Martha's map handiwork. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

The maps look great in the hallway. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

6 The maps look great in the hallway. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

Vintage map dish towels. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2001)

7 Vintage map dish towels. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2001)

The coloring of this map is what speaks to me. (Martha Stewart Living, February 2001)

8 The coloring of this map is what speaks to me. (Martha Stewart Living, February 2001)

You can easily turn a map into a window shade. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

9 You can easily turn a map into a window shade. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

This headboard was made from an old schoolhouse map. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

10 This headboard was made from an old schoolhouse map. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

The pages of an old atlas line the walls of this room. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

11 The pages of an old atlas line the walls of this room. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

The antique maps on the ceiling pair well with the elegance of this space. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

12 The antique maps on the ceiling pair well with the elegance of this space. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

The maps make a nice corner accent. (decorpad.com)

13 The maps make a nice corner accent. (decorpad.com)

This blue map has the feel of the night sky. (decorpad.com)

14 This blue map has the feel of the night sky. (decorpad.com)

These vintage map prints pair well with the masculinity of this room. (decorpad.com)

15 These vintage map prints pair well with the masculinity of this room. (decorpad.com)

The print is a minimal yet darling detail in this children's room. (decorpad.com)

16 The print is a minimal yet darling detail in this children's room. (decorpad.com)

Martha Stewart Living featured a story about "tourist textiles" -- handkerchiefs, scarves and tablecloths printed with maps that were popular among road-tripping Americans in the mid-20th century. Travelers would collect these mementos abroad and bring them home to remember their destinations by.

The textiles were so popular that many of these remnants of Americana still remain today in antique shops and vintage stores. If you happen to own any tourist textiles I encourage you to look into this gallery for inspiration.

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Displaying art is a great way to utilize a fireplace in the warmer months. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

1 Displaying art is a great way to utilize a fireplace in the warmer months. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

A handkerchief map of Downtown Boston. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

2 A handkerchief map of Downtown Boston. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Scarf map of the United States. It is very difficult to find a scarf in such pristine condition because scarves were used quite heavily. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

3 Scarf map of the United States. It is very difficult to find a scarf in such pristine condition because scarves were used quite heavily. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

States tablecloth. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

4 States tablecloth. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

California tablecloth. The borders of this cloth are just as interesting as the center design. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

5 California tablecloth. The borders of this cloth are just as interesting as the center design. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Delaware handhercheif. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

6 Delaware handhercheif. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Connecticut scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

7 Connecticut scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

This tablecloth was transformed into a window shade. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

8 This tablecloth was transformed into a window shade. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Georgia handkerchief. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

9 Georgia handkerchief. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

There is no shortage of beautiful detail on this handkerchief. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

10 There is no shortage of beautiful detail on this handkerchief. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

This tablecloth provides easy shade. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

11 This tablecloth provides easy shade. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

I love the individual scenes on this scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

12 I love the individual scenes on this scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

The scalloped red detail is so playful. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

13 The scalloped red detail is so playful. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Nevada/Utah handkerchief. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

14 Nevada/Utah handkerchief. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

The abstract design of this tablecloth stands out. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

15 The abstract design of this tablecloth stands out. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Kansas tablecloth. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

16 Kansas tablecloth. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Map textiles make great pillows. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

17 Map textiles make great pillows. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

A tablecloth and dish towels have been used to create this bench cover and artwork. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

18 A tablecloth and dish towels have been used to create this bench cover and artwork. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

The United States map textile was stretched over a wooden frame to create this piece. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

19 The United States map textile was stretched over a wooden frame to create this piece. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Vermont scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

20 Vermont scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Washington tablecloth. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

21 Washington tablecloth. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Western scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

22 Western scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

Texas scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

23 Texas scarf. (Martha Stewart Living, July 2010)

There are numerous ways to incorporate maps into your home through do-it-yourself projects. Here are some of my favorites.

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What a clever idea. An old map has been recycled into a lamp shade. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

1 What a clever idea. An old map has been recycled into a lamp shade. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

Maps inside of a drawer is an unexpected detail. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

2 Maps inside of a drawer is an unexpected detail. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

These serving trays are made by decoupaging maps onto glass trays. (marthastewart.com)

3 These serving trays are made by decoupaging maps onto glass trays. (marthastewart.com)

Swapping out scrapbook papers with maps adds visual impact to your memories. (marthastewart.com)

4 Swapping out scrapbook papers with maps adds visual impact to your memories. (marthastewart.com)

The antique look of this framed map was achieved through dying the map with tea. (marthastewart.com)

5 The antique look of this framed map was achieved through dying the map with tea. (marthastewart.com)

The bottom of this tray was made with inexpensive nautical charts from a boating supply store. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

6 The bottom of this tray was made with inexpensive nautical charts from a boating supply store. (Martha Stewart Living, June 2007)

These pillows were made using trail maps made of Tyvek, a waterproof fabric. These maps are readily available at sporting goods stores. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

7 These pillows were made using trail maps made of Tyvek, a waterproof fabric. These maps are readily available at sporting goods stores. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

Separating this large map into smaller frames makes the art seem more intentional. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

8 Separating this large map into smaller frames makes the art seem more intentional. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

For a more personal touch, frame travel photos with a map of that destination. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

9 For a more personal touch, frame travel photos with a map of that destination. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

Maps can be transformed into playful coasters. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2009)

10 Maps can be transformed into playful coasters. (Martha Stewart Living, August 2009)

Using a map as a tablecloth is a genius decorative touch. (Martha Stewart Living, June 1998)

11 Using a map as a tablecloth is a genius decorative touch. (Martha Stewart Living, June 1998)

If you've run out of wrapping paper, use maps! (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

12 If you've run out of wrapping paper, use maps! (Martha Stewart Living, August 2002)

Antique Map Craft
Map Tablecloth
Decoupage Map Tray
Map Scrapbooks
Map Coasters