Decorating With Maps

Tell me you’ve seen the Fixer Upper episode where Joanna hangs the framed maps and overlaps them on the mantle. We don’t have a mantle, but I do have an awkward TV wall with two big windows, and zero skill for a gallery wall. Let’s discuss how I took a hot mess, into a simple TV wall with maps, wood, and 145 nail holes.

Here we are present day…

Use MAPS! Add a rustic wood frame, around a map to decorate a mantle or TV wall.

But, it didn’t always look like that. I wish I had a before photo, but I’ll paint the picture for you of our TV wall… front and center, was (obviously) our giant TV. All around that was a mishmash of photo gallery remnants from 3 years of moving stuff around and never being happy with any of it. Like most of my gallery wall attempts, it was so messy looking. Never just right. Always trying to update things and move things around. So many holes in the walls. I did all the gallery wall tips – laid out the frames, used paper cut outs of all my stuff, copied someone else’s wall, I did all of it. And never fell in love with any of them.

For the last 5 months, we stared at 145 nail holes, the big TV, two windows, a ton of cords all over, the TV console table (gorge, right?), an empty shelf, and a galvanized T. With no rhyme or reason. In the words of Nina Garcia, it was so… so sad. I see you checking out that coffee table, you can read all about it and drool over it’s gorgeous legs.

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Back to the Fixer Upper episode…  framed maps. I talk in this post about my 5 favorite fixer upper DIY projects, but this I may have to add to that list. I love family photos, but I have a whole ledge full of them, and I wanted something different. Unfortunately, I have no mantle, and I didn’t want to overlap my frames, because I was scared it’d end up like the gallery wall attempts.

I like symmetry and a pattern… maybe that’s why my gallery walls never worked out?

For these maps, I knew I wanted to go with a ‘places we’ve lived together’ thing, because there are two places we’ve lived together, I had two frames, wood for two frames, and two spaces for these maps to live.

After some digging, I found an old proposed railroad map from Philadelphia in the mid-1850’s. Andrew tells me this was before the Act of Consolidation was signed, so it’s especially neat, and it included our old neighborhood.

LOC _ Philadelphia Map

I had to do a small bit of googling for a historical map of our township now, and this is literally the only historical map I’ve found. Our town was founded in 1717 and the main drag is lined with log homes and stone homes from the 1700’s. I think it’s amazing, and it gives me chills to know the current stone farmhouse in our neighborhood was that of a Mary P. Stackhouse, and I wish her barn was still standing there.


I printed these out in black and white, after boosting the contrast and adjusting the tone of the pictures, then popped them in a pair of plain white Ikea frames. Andrew built a frame from some rough pine we had stashed in the garavge, and they fit perfectly around the frames. After a good sanding, I stained them with Minwax’s Early American.

Awful with gallery walls? Me too. Give it up and go simple with this idea to decorate around a giant tv with wood frames and maps!

I didn’t attach the frames to the wood, because they just fit perfectly around the white frames.

In full disclosure, I’m lazy and impatient; I had no desire for an extra step.

Use MAPS! Add a rustic wood frame, around a map to decorate a mantle or TV wall.

Yes, I know you can see my TV wires, but I’m about real life and hide them behind this galvanized bucket with greens. I twisted them together and eventually I’ll probably cover them with something I find on Pinterest. I’m not really trying to put more holes in my walls to hang cords in, despite putting 4 trillion nail holes in them for rogue gallery walls. At least not yet, I may, but meh.

Awful with gallery walls? Me too. Give it up and go simple with this idea to decorate around a giant tv with wood frames and a sign!

See that little basket with that pitcher on top? That’s got our internet modem and personal cloud thingie underneath. We cut the cable, so I no longer have to hide the giant cable box, it’s only 2 little boxes hidden under there, with the cords and wires going out the back. Sneaky, sneaky!

I added a piece of pallet wood on top, painted ‘home’ on it, and added a few skeleton keys my mom gave me – I have no idea where she got them, but I wish I had a few more jars!

Decorate around your TV with maps and pallet wood!

I am in love with this wall, and the simplicity of what this wall looks like – I’ve abandoned the gallery wall here in favor of symmetry and simplicity!  That’s not to say that I won’t try a gallery wall elsewhere in my house, because I probably will on a different wall with tons of space.

And no windows.

Or TV.

Have issues with your gallery walls too? I’m glad I’m not alone! Pin this and share it with the masses!

Maps and rustic frames, with a cute pallet wood sign help keep a TV wall symmetrical!

My blogging tribe is sharing ways to decorate with maps this month, so please pop over to these awesome bloggers to get your fix!

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