Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Today Dave and I will be getting on a plane for London. After fretting about the volcano and the British Airways strike messing with my best laid plans, I'm relieved, happy and a little bit shocked to have everything still a "go" just a few short hours from our departure -- even if the BA strike did result in our flight getting cancelled (we managed to get on a Continental flight). We'll be spending 6 days in London (with a few day trips to the surrounding area planned) followed by 5 days in Scotland (split fairly evenly between Inverness and Edinburgh). I'm thrilled to be heading back to London, my absolute favorite city, and Scotland, where I look forward to getting to spend some real time in the Highlands (my only other trip to Scotland was in 2002 where we spent the bulk of our time in Edinburgh and Perth).

Knowing that this trip was scheduled has given me a serious case of wanderlust all spring. I've always believed that half the fun of a vacation is the anticipation and the planning -- I love daydreaming and talking about all the places on my "bucket list", all the many, many historical sites I want to see in person. And a great way to express my love of travel (and planning my travels) is to decorate with maps of all the places that I've been, the places that I want to see, the places that have a great deal of meaning to me. Besides, you never know when you'll need a visual aid during a particularly spirited discussion about your latest/upcoming trip.

Maps can also be a great way to get large, personal art relatively inexpensively. I particularly love antique maps with their intricate drawings, beautiful typography and, of course, their dated geography. (Maybe I'm a bit of a dork, but I love checking out old maps and globes and seeing how drastically the world has changed in often just a few short years.) The foyer in Sean Scherer's home is a perfectly curated display of beautiful vintage finds. The turquoise walls bring just enough modernity to the space to make it feel fresh and inviting.

As a die hard fan of blue and white, I absolutely love this nautical map of Long Island that Kim Coleman used in a Hamptons' home. It just goes to show you that maps don't have to look like those blue and green ones in your elementary school. The white wainscoting keeps the room from feeling too dark and adds a bit of formal architecture to a pretty casual space.

Robin Bell made a new map look vintage by applying a clear, semi-matte acrylic glaze tinted with raw sienna and burnt umber. Also, can we talk about how seriously fabulous that ottoman is? The sculpted legs mimic the legs on the sectional and the smaller hassock, which is a great way to tie disparate pieces together in a room. The fantastic nailhead detailing also works well with the sofa's more subtle nailhead trim.

Janell from Isabella & Max

The expense of having a map customized and blown up to fit your wall may be cost-prohibitive for many of us, but there are still a lot of great ways to get the same look for less. If you're exceptionally artistic, you can always free hand a map onto your walls with paint as Janell so brilliantly did in her son Max's room. Since my hand isn't quite so steady, I'd probably borrow a projector and trace the image onto the wall first and then fill it in.

Steven Gambrel

Another cost-effective solution is to purchase a bunch of inexpensive road maps and collage them onto the wall as Steven Gambrel did in this pretty bedroom. I'd probably put a coat or two of polyurethane on the walls just to make this treatment a bit more family-friendly (think of it like decoupage for your walls). Lulu dk's catwalk fabric in ocean on the chair and roman shades is a great touch and really brings home the nautical theme without feeling too literal.

T. Keller Donovan

I'm always drawn to wall-t0-wall art installations, especially when they're done symmetrically in matching frames (yes, I'm pretty type-A). Note too how Donovan went all the way to the floor instead of stopping just above the back of the couch. This creates a more casual, layered effect in the room. The neutral tones in the maps keep the wall from reading as too busy and really set off the pops of red and blue in the fabrics. The 12 smaller maps in lieu of one large one is probably also more cost-effective as maps, like any art, tend to increase in price as you increase the size.

Harriet Maxwell MacDonald

I'm not generally a fan of the stripped-down, limed wood look that's been so popular recently, but in a casual beach bungalow, the look feels more authentic and more appropriate than it does in, say, a brand new loft. This vignette is also a great picture to study if you're trying to decorate a foyer. Note how the map is almost the same size as the cabinet. It's important not to go larger than the table that's anchoring a piece or too much smaller (I hate undersized art). The casual display of flowers, votives, pictures and spare, modern lamp has a great, unstudied look without feeling too cluttered.

Thomas O'Brien

I think about 75% of these images I've pulled are from beach houses and coastal cottages -- but don't think you have to limit maps to second homes or to the beach. I think maps work equally well in a city setting, as Thomas O'Brien shows in his own Manhattan living room, where he displays a large celestial map over his desk. Of course the striking black and white of a celestial map lends itself to more sophisticated settings and is the perfect way to bring some of O'Brien's vintage modern style to your home.

Steven Shailer

Here's another great example of maps working beautifully in a more modern, loft interior. Old city maps (I believe this one is of Paris) are a great, urbane take on this trend. I also love those cozy-looking brown leather chairs and vintage floor lamp; this looks like the perfect place to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine.

Kerry Joyce

Yet another great kid's room decked out in maps. The soft colors here are very soothing, but the black accents bring some sophistication and crispness to the room that's very appealing to me. I also love the vintage letters adorning the drawers under the bed.

While I'm out of town, I thought I'd keep this travel theme going a bit by asking several of my favorite bloggers to guest blog about their favorite vacation homes (real or imagined) around the country. And, of course, when I get back I plan on sharing plenty of pictures and hopefully a few good stories of our time in the United Kingdom. Until then, I promise I'm leaving you in the very best of hands. I can't wait to catch up with everyone when I get back!


Aesthetic Oiseau said...

Bon Voyage!!

Janell @ House of Fifty said...

I adore the collection of globes in the first image. I have a couple of those myself, the smaller bank globes...this inspires me to add to the collection!

Have a wonderful trip, I trust all your travel plans proceed smoothly! And thanks for including me in this post, I am very honored!!


Laura@JourneyChic said...

Great images - love that foyer with the turquoise walls. Have a spectacular time!!

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

Great post, have an amazing trip!!

Connie @ SogniESorrisi said...

I love the idea of maps on walls or a map theme for a boy's room.

Have a wonderful trip! Can't wait to hear all about it when you get back.

bazaarofserendipity said...

I have been seeing some much of this lately. Do i spy a new trend?! My favorite use of it is in a litte boys room!

Unknown said...

My house is filled with maps! I love them.

Hope you have a wonderful trip! I can't wait to hear all about it.

I am praying that the strike is over by June 30th when we are set to leave for Barcelona. We're flying BA through London, so I am really worried.

Kara said...

Have a great trip - can't wait to hear all about it!!

Nichole@40daysof said...

Have a wonderful vacation! When I went to the Vatican Museum, they had these amazing maps all over the walls in one huge room. It was called the map room. I've been trying to find prints ever since, but no such luck. :(

Barbara von Enger said...

What a delightful collection. Do enjoy your holiday. Scotland is so pretty, too;-)

ashlina {the decorista} said...

framed maps are the way to go!!!! love this post.

ps come by my blog and enter my giveaway for a chance to win a zebra rug before you leave on your jealous. :)

Christy said...

I am a huge fan of maps as decorative objects too! I'd love to have a wall size map of the world in my own office, one day. Maybe Cal would like one in his next room! I love your inspiration pics, with the exception of the one that just has it on the very upper part of the wall - I wished they'll done it ALL over instead! I also love having an atlas on hand - a great tool when discussing future trips! Hope your current one is fabulous!

Unknown said...

Bon Voyage! If you get a chance, check out the Inns of Law in London! I did a semester of Law School there and worked for a Barrister of the Queen's Bench, its fascinating and beautiful!
(and hello....loving these maps!)

Sarah Klassen said...

Fantastic images and inspiration, Averill! I especially enjoy the space by Steven Shailer. What a great map and display...

casey at loft and cottage said...

I sooo love this look and am trying to keep my eye out for some great (cheap) maps to decoupage on a wall or two. Did my own post about them here

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