My DIY Map Wallpaper {Small Hallway}

easy map wallpaper

Map Wallpaper For Walls: The DIY way!

So remember that one map wall? The wall you sometimes see in pictures of my house or kitchen, but I never really posted about? The post a few of you keep searching for on my blog and can’t find? Yeah. THAT one. Today is the day you can find it because I’ll finally share it.

After tens of thousands of emails and comments with questions about the maps (a slight exaggeration but you know what I mean), I thought I might as well put the answers in a post. Yay.

I actually kept putting off talking about it because I had a few problems along the way and never really solved them to my satisfaction, so I just never felt like it was worth talking about. I almost ripped it all down.

But you all know I have always had issues with DIY so why stop talking about my failures now? HA. And really a few fails and trials are just a part of the process of trying new things. No surprise there. You just keep tweaking or start over.

wallpaper for walls

So the short version is, I started this map wall BEFORE I actually had the wainscoting. Long before my kitchen remodel. On a whim. Without thinking through the end result. Sometimes that strategy works well. Thinking too long about something can rob your creativity and feed your procrastinator side!

Other times, thinking ahead is a GOOD strategy.

I’m happy with my map wall now despite the troubles it caused me, but here is the tale of how things went awry.

I started this map project thinking I could apply wallpaper paste to some heavy weight wrapping paper I already had (you can find the same map paper at Paper Source). I happened to have an old tub of wallpaper paste, so I just dove in one evening and started pasting. I’ve wallpapered a time or two before and while it is always a challenge, this project seemed like it would be fairly easy.

Well, not exactly. I had quite a few issues along the way. Surprised much? I didn’t think so.

map wallpaper

After tearing down some of the maps and trying again a few times, I decided pasting the rest of the maps was not going to happen. I was just over it.

From that point on I used some push pins to tack the maps to the drywall. I wish I had done that all along, so much easier!

Sometimes the simple solution is best. That is a lesson I’ve learned many times! 

I had no rhyme or reason to how I hung the maps, just trial and error. It is imperfect for a few reasons, but one is because it isn’t like regular wallpaper where you have long rolls and repeats to work with. The maps are just the size they are, so you have to work with that and deal with imperfection in where they end or how they fit on the wall.

I almost took all the maps down when we were remodeling so I could start fresh, but decided to leave them for the time being. The walls still will eventually need trim around the top and some repairs are needed to the wall, but that will be a project for another time. My house is always in process so I can wait.

This is a quirky and imperfect map wall. And I can live with that! That is part of its charm and part of what adds to this hallway’s personality.

I do enjoy looking at the maps and fondly remembering my travels! So that is a real success. A wall with real meaning!

map wall

My advice on using heavy wrapping paper on a wall is to use push pins if you want this project to be a no fail, easy DIY. As long as small kids can’t take your pins out, you are good to go. Plus, this is a perfect solution for renters or temporary fixes too! 

I have used wrapping paper and scrapbook paper on the backs of bookcases and that was fairly easy, I just used tape.

But if you really want to use paste for the walls (which could look amazing if it was done right), I would research it carefully first and maybe look for a less sticky solution or use a removable wall paper paste!  I’m sure there are better options than what I used on a whim, but since I don’t have experience with them I can’t tell you what to use.

map wall small hall

As you know, I’m still a fan of real wallpaper and would never hesitate to wallpaper a wall for the impact, with professional assistance perhaps, haha. 

So to recap this Map Wall DIY with a few of my tips!
1. I used heavy map wrapping paper from Paper Source, not real wallpaper.
2. I hung most of the maps with push pins after wallpaper paste didn’t work for me. I used simple metal push pins that stick out from the wall, not the flat kind.
3. I overlapped the maps slightly as necessary (and even wrapped them around a corner) but the finished project will be imperfect since you are not working with rolls or repeat options like you would with real wallpaper.

Sources: The green light came from Barn Light Electric (you can find details on it in my kitchen source post). The subway art above the office came from Red Letter Words and the chalk message board details are here.

Have you ever papered a wall with gift wrap or scrap paper?

Share your experience and tips!

The Inspired Room is one of the top decorating blogs on the web. I’m glad you are here! For more inspiration, visit my inspiration galleries, the popular How to Decorate series and my own House Tour!

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Comments

  1. Well Hallelujah!! I was one of the zillion questions you received about it. :) Thanks for the details! I have always loved seeing the little peek at that wonderful detail in your home. It does add so much personality. I have several nautical chart maps (which are very large) stuck away in a closet, and they just might be perfect for this. Pondering their use in a bathroom…wonder how bad the steam would be on their “flatness.”
    Kelly – Talk of the House recently posted..Daughter’s Bedroom… RedoneMy Profile

  2. I am completely smitten! I have always been a fan of maps and love the look of using a bunch as wallpaper. tThe push pins add to the charm and are a fun shortcut, LOVE it!!!
    Cathy
    Cathy recently posted..Prom BoyMy Profile

  3. love the wall paper great idea with the pins besides minium damage to walls. i got a little peep into your other rooms and now i have a question where did you purchase your bambo shade and what color is it also what color is paint on wall in the room with the bamboo shade. and last question what color white did you use on wall below the map. i love your blog

  4. I like the pins because everyone uses pins to place a map on the wall! Much better than trying to make it look like wallpaper. And even though your projects aren’t finished… it’s best to post about them anyways because the people who ask about them can be really pushy… LOL
    MarieRoxanne recently posted..Mother Nature’s Cruel JokeMy Profile

  5. I love that you used pushpins to hold the paper up. How clever! Makes it so easy to change the look. That is, if you ever want to – although its too pretty to change. (: Thanks for sharing!

  6. Lois Black says:

    I have used gift wrap paper to cover bathroom walls and I use it when I refurbish an old armoire on the insice and on the inside of the doors. Very neat when opened and also covers up a lot of blemished on the inside.. I use cellulose wall paper paste and use a flat smoother thing to remove all the bubbles. Cheaper than wallpaper.

    Love you maps as wallpaper plus with the push pins, you can remove them when you want a new look. Great job!!!!

  7. I think I told you I did something similar in my laundry room with Cavallini papers. I just used pins too. However, there’s moisture in the air in the laundry room and my papers are kind of sagging. It’s not terribly noticeable but it bugs me. I love the look! At the store where I originally saw this, they took the papers up onto the ceiling. So cool!

  8. I LOVE your map wall (the whole little hallway, in fact) but the post I’m dying to read is about the specifics of the framed drawn animals in the bathroom. LOVE that bit of quirk & would love to do something similar. xo

  9. It looks amazing, Melissa! I am a huge fan of maps in decor and need to use your idea somewhere in my house. Thanks for sharing what worked for you!

  10. hi melissa guess what i found the answers to my questions on your blog im so excitied to start ordering my blinds im so now ready to move forward on this process

  11. Lauralee says:

    How perfectly timed! We are moving to a rental house while we build our lake house and are “taking care of” a 90+ year-old-lady’s house. Well, the 1970′s are captured perfectly there. :) The bedrooms have wallpaper and one room is peeling and well, awful. I was going to put one son’s stuff in there with the yellow mini print walls. Now he will have a cool room! I had put up old maps in our little office with masking tape in the home we are selling. With all the stuff going on right now had not thought up a way to hide the ugly and make it cool. You rescued me! Thanks, Melissa!

  12. I need to get out more….map wrapping paper? Oh the damage I could do. Haha!
    Seriously….I’ve mentioned it before…the look is fabulous. And because I don’t know what the issues are (except you tell us) and I can’t see them in the photo….it looks perfect. I did notice the push pins….cute. The completed look with the wainscoting is stunning and perfect for a back entry which always benefits from a bit of whimsy.
    Perfect or not. I LOVE it!!!!
    Oh…and this perfection thing. Ugh. I want it. Always. My ability to deliver. Not so good. Result? Keeps me humble. I guess I need more humbling… :-/
    Diane recently posted..How to receive God’s blessing… :: Joy Day!My Profile

  13. I wallpapered my guest bath with theater wrapping paper from Playbill, but it was extra thick paper. I primed the wall then pasted the paper with wallpaper past. But if you want to put it up without pasting, I’ve found the humble straight pin works well–it’s less tempting to pull out than a push pin, virtually disappears when hammered in, and leaves a nearly invisible hole when removed. Mind you, if you’re trying to hammer a straight pin into a stud, well, not gonna happen.

  14. Louise says:

    Melissa! perhaps we’ll never know which was the straw that broke the camel’s back, She said chewing on a straw, but that is entirely beside the point! I think the push pins suggest a household that does not stand on ceremony, which is a good thing in my book.

    This past weekend I asked two paint store guys what would be the effect on a wall of decoupage glue in terms of somebody later wanting to remove a map stuck to a wall with 3 parts water, 1 part school glue ( I think that’s the homemade recipe for decoupage glue)–and they said it would do bad things, would take a lot of work to get it off. So that’s a negative. Since my maps and charts are each different from each other, each would require a different amount of fixative, maybe a different formula, maybe some paper would absorb more than other papers, and maybe they wouldn’t even come off to reposition. I don’t know because I haven’t yet investigated enough. The paint store guys had no suggestions. The concept you suggest of removable wallpaper paste is appealing, and it could be tested on the discards as the desired portions are cut from the entirety of the map or chart. Trial and error, as you say. And it WAS a stroke of genius on your part–your map area is so eye-catching, so stand-out great looking– and the photo clearly prompted like-minded legions of requests for more on the map wall! I for one thank you very much for sharing the photo and the method in your madness!!!

  15. Love it! I did a similar project in an upstairs bathroom in our quirky 1806 farmhouse and used decoupage glue and old catalogs I got for $3.00 a piece on E-Bay……came out great & people use it as reading material when they are in there!! LOL

  16. Just to add to my decoupage glue idea…under it was old 70′s vinyl wallpaper so if I ever want to remove it ….the whole thing should come off fairly easy……

  17. I love those maps and have something similar planned for my son’s room. :) Great post; thanks for the tips and being real about your DIY experiences (esp since mine never quite work out the way I hope).
    Carrie recently posted..5 Tips for BusyMy Profile

  18. SO awesome!!! I love everything about it. And that light. Oh, that light.
    Mindy recently posted..The First Week Of May In The GardenMy Profile

  19. What a fun and different idea! Thanks for sharing…
    Lisa recently posted..Miguel’s Missionary MomentMy Profile

  20. Where did u get the maps from? I have a wall that I want to do this to but can’t find any maps, (cheap wise). Any help would be really appreciated. Thanks…..

  21. I’m over the moon in LOVE with this!! Such a great statement it makes and how easy with the pushpins! Now you can easily remove it if you ever tire of it…..not that you will anytime soon since it is s fabulous!
    Sarah recently posted..Derby InspiredMy Profile

  22. LibbyP
    Twitter:
    says:

    Love this!! Am going to copy it – thanks for the words of wisdom.

    My son was really into maps when he was a toddler/elementary kid. We made a fun family project of it. We read about each state (online) and then ordered the school packet (each state has a place to make this request – children often need them for school projects). Each packet included a state map. We hung them up with clear contact paper (sandwiched the map between two sheets so that one sticky side faced the front of the map, and the other sheet’s sticky side faced the wall, away from the map). We cut the contact paper slightly larger than the map and stuck it on the wall. Really cute and a fun family project.

    But now I think I’ll go with your version!

  23. I agree. I like your version. ;)
    Danette Dillon recently posted..Beautiful ThingsMy Profile

  24. I am not one of the readers that asked for a post on this – but I’m so glad you finally did! I have been wondering about it… too bad the paste didn’t work for you. When I get around to doing this, I plan on stapling the maps to the wall – much easier than pins I hope! What I love most about your project is that it isn’t done to a very big area, but it gives a super-big impact. I also love the way it overlaps in a haphazard way. It turned out awesome! Thanks for the story!

  25. I can totally see the concept moving “retro”! I adore this sense of style!!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  26. I love it…with and w/o the pins! I cut little scallops from an old paper back and used thumb tacks to attach them to the shelf in my bathroom. (the tacks were old too) I get tons of comments on that little paper treatment.
    The other thing is… I see lots of people adding fabric to their walls with starch…have you had experience with this? Do you think it would work with maps?
    just curious.
    I love this look…the greens and blues are spectacular!

    Pat
    Pat recently posted..:: A Lazy Weekend and A Moo Place::My Profile

  27. I love how this turned out… even with all the effort it took it was worth it to create such a custom look in your hall. I love the colors in the maps against the crisp white wainscoting as well as the minty accents. What a beautiful little space!
    Krista
    Krista recently posted..Spring Cleaning: Linen Closet Rescue MissionMy Profile

  28. TKraft Art & Interiors says:

    Always love a map wall. Yours turned out amazing I love that it’s in the foyer – a room that dictates travel coming and going out the front door to venture into the world. I did a small room using a state road atlas and modge podge. Your design sense is beautiful in so many ways… Keep sharing, please!

  29. Peggy Sullivan says:

    My mom and dad got maps from the Army Corps of Engineers to paper their bedroom at our family summer cottage in northern Michigan and a giant world map from RandMcNally that covered the entry wall and the wall going down to the lower level guest quarters. When the house was torn down as part of a National Park, even the park rangers tried to figure a way to save that wall. All of us and our kids grew up with amazing map skills. I love how you did this and it gives me some inspiration as well as affirmation! I HAVE LOTS OF ROLLED UP MAPS!!! And now I understand why….. Cheers!

  30. We have built-ins in our study and I used Command Poster Strips to hang wrapping paper behind the shelves. I hope to never buy wallpaper paste for anything. I’ll leave that to the professionals!

  31. Love it! The colors are so great. What a super idea.

  32. I love this wall paper idea! It will be perfect for my husband’s office. Thanks for the inspiration. :)
    Tina recently posted..Homemade Peanut ButterMy Profile

  33. oh my gosh, that is absolutely amazing, and i want it. i want to either have it, or live in your hallway.
    the cape on the corner recently posted..I got the need. The need for green.My Profile

  34. Well done, Melissa. I love your down to earth ways.

  35. I was behind on your blog, saw this pin and knew I needed to get caught up! :)
    Love, love it.
    Also, I just bought that purse (which I’m loving as well!).

  36. This looks amazing! You did a fabulous job. I had no idea Map wrapping paper even existed! Oh, and where did you get that gorgeous purse?! It is seriously the perfect shade of yellow!
    Shannah recently posted..Let’s Connect ThursdayMy Profile

  37. I adore maps. Congrats on finding such beautiful maps and an innovative way to use them on your walls.

    Besides that, please give me some info about the stunning yellow satchel hanging on the hook by the door. I’d love to have one, too. Where might I buy one?

    Thanks much!

  38. Your map wall is awesome – I love it with the more perfectly imperfect look of the push pins rather than the wallpaper anyway :-) Now I need to hop over to Paper Source and check it out – I had no idea that there was such a thing as map paper!
    Kris {Driven by Décor} recently posted..Kitchen Lighting: Adding Warmth with Table LampsMy Profile

  39. Melissa…it’s beautiful.
    I’ve seen it all over pinterest. :)

    it adds such a personal touch to your beautiful home.
    tara recently posted..Paula Deen’s Strawberry CakeMy Profile

  40. I am wanting to do a map wall in our homeschool room. I have been collecting them. I have also been drooling over yours! Love it!

  41. Barbara says:

    My husband used to drive a semi truck and collected lots of maps. When we moved into our new home the grandkids were the only ones who used the spare bedroom. I started push pinning the maps to the wall and it really looks good.

  42. So happy I stumbled upon this post. I am about to cover a wall of my newly empty nest with maps and was eying some leftover wallpaper paste. I am looking for thumbtacks instead as I write! Thanks for saving me a lot of time and trouble!
    michelle recently posted..Adventurer’s Night StandMy Profile

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