Decorating with Maps

by Kimba on September 1, 2009

in Do it yourself

I found this beautiful map from National Geographic and was instantly inspired to use it as the main artwork in my older son’s bedroom. He is into US geography right now and it works perfectly with his patchwork quilt. At $29.95, it gave me maximum impact for minimal dollars.

Want to try it yourself? Here’s what you need:

  • The map (or poster, flag, whatever).
    U.S. Map (Earth-toned)

    This is the one that I have from National Geographic.
    World Map (Earth-toned)– This is the world version from Amazon.
  • Door frame molding
  • Corner blocks (mine have stars on them but they come in different designs)
  • Finishing nails
  • Liquid nail (or other glue)
  • Wood filler
  • Paint
  • Saw – I used a power miter saw but a hand saw would work just fine.

Here’s how I hung it and framed it:

1. The map is stuck to the wall with Zots Adhesive Dots. We call them booger dots around here, but Zots sounds much nicer. You can find them in the scrapbooking section of any craft store. I linked to them on Amazon so you can see what you’re looking for. They’re super sticky so they hold the weight of the map, but they’re not permanent (as far as I can tell). If they rip down the drywall when I take this down in a few years, I’ll let you know.

2. Choose your corner pieces and molding. You can find the corner blocks in with the decorative wood trim at Lowes and Home Depot. I used them because then I didn’t have to miter the corners of the trim…and because they look cool. But mostly because of the miter thing. The trim is a door frame molding. This particular molding is a composite and it’s pre-primed. Super easy to work with.

3. Figure out where you want your corner blocks and trim to go. Mine cover up about 3″ of the map on all sides. The easiest thing to do is to put your corner blocks in place temporarily with the Zots and measure how long your molding pieces need to be.

4. Cut your molding to length. I used a power miter saw (just ’cause I could) but you could definitely do this with a hand saw or a miter box.

5. Spray prime the corner star blocks and paint the trim and the corner blocks. I used Olympic paint in Star Spangled. It’s the perfect blue for a project like this. I’ve gotten a ton of mileage out of one gallon of this paint. I used it on these shutters, this headboard and now this frame.

6. Hang your molding. I started by hanging the top horizontal piece. Try and find a stud when you’re putting in the nails. (Insert your own stud-joke here.) I used 2-1/2″ finishing nails and pounded them in by hand.

7. Then I countersunk them with a nail punch. Again, I linked to Amazon so that you can see what I mean. You use the punch to drive the nail further into the molding so it’s not sticking up. Make sense?

8. Add your corner blocks as you go. These are also nailed in place. When I couldn’t nail them into a stud (have another stud joke?), I added a teeny-tiny dot of Liquid Nail behind them to make sure that they don’t move.

9. Once all of the pieces are nailed in place, you can fill in the nail holes with a little bit of wood filler. Once it’s dry, sand it down so it’s all smooth.

10. Touch up your paint with a small brush and you’re good to go!

I dreaded writing this post. Honestly, I think the writing and explaining took longer than the actual doing. And I still fear that it’s not clear enough.

Once you have the supplies, it comes together quickly. Unless you’re like me and have to make 83 trips back down the stairs to shave “just a tiny hair more” off the length of each board to make them fit.


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1 southerninspiration September 1, 2009 at 5:12 am

Looks great, Kimba and I understood perfectly what you did…now whether I would/could/will do it is a different matter. I'm sure your boy loves it, yes?


2 Misti of Studio M Designs September 1, 2009 at 5:21 am

Great job, Kimba! We have maps in my son's room too. They are so colorful, and are a great use of wall space. The boys get to keep up with where their dad is traveling to, and they use it for school work as well. Mine were given to me already framed, but I like your chunky frame much better!

You should stop by and see what I did with my footboard project. Super cool!!


3 Laura Trevey September 1, 2009 at 5:28 am

Great deal on the map ~~ wonderfully detailed instructions as well !!

4 Sheri September 1, 2009 at 5:35 am

Awesome! I just may do that in the school room/dining room where I have the repurposed doors hanging, I can just move them somewhere else.

5 Laurel @ Ducks in a Row September 1, 2009 at 5:43 am

I love this – really! Great tutorial!

6 Joanna September 1, 2009 at 5:50 am

It looks great! I love the tutorial, thanks!

7 Trisha September 1, 2009 at 6:03 am

Very cool! My son has always loved maps and until recently has had 2 in his room! But this would have made it much much cooler!

8 Kelly September 1, 2009 at 6:08 am

I love the map framed. What a great idea. And for the curious child, perfect.

9 Crystal September 1, 2009 at 6:14 am

Thank you for this! We are redoing my sons room in a map theme and will definitely do this on a wall in this room! The room looks great and your tutorial was so helpful!

10 TheOldPostRoad September 1, 2009 at 6:14 am

Thank you for the step-by-step. It is very clear. My only problem is that now I have to paint his room, FIRST. ugh. Don't make me do it!! Little boy fingerprints and footprints are everywhere since the last paint 9 years ago!

11 Heidi September 1, 2009 at 8:19 am

What a clever girl you are! I would never have thought to frame out a poster by simply nailing the frame around it straight to the wall. Looks FAB – I LOVE those star corner thingy's.

Not only would little boys like this, BIG boys (thinking of my wicked smart brainy philosopher of a hubby) would appreciate something like this in his office/man cave – with different color paint perhaps.

12 Mrs. Nepper September 1, 2009 at 8:34 am

I absolutely love it. My little guy is under a year, but I foresee something along these lines as he gets older. The quilt is great, and wow, the star blocks on the corners are so sweet. I will be on the look out for those!
Great work!

13 Embellish-Vintage Home Embellishments September 1, 2009 at 9:54 am

It looks terrific. I framed a large map with ocean blue colors in my boys room and they love it.

14 Elizabeth (blue clear sky) September 1, 2009 at 10:16 am

Looks fabulous Kimba! Your trim looks fantastic and your tutorial was very clear IMO. We have plans for a North America map (we live in Canada and love our American neighbours) in our home. Just deciding on a location. Our children are interested in places we have been, plan to go etc. and a large wall map will help and save going online and getting out the map books.

15 Akimbo That Designs September 1, 2009 at 10:25 am

Cute Cute!! Love the idea of putting a map in a cute frame. I might do this in my office. CUTE!

16 Cindy Harvey September 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

A few years back I purchased a HUGE world map in vintage colors….Office Depot still has 'em I think. Anyway, I did the dumb thing and had it professionally framed to the tune of $300 (and that was during the 1/2 off HL sale!) It was so big that it bowed out in the middle and I had to have it re-framed (thankfully HL redid it free of charge). Next time I'll do it your way, :o)

17 Amanda @ Serenity Now September 1, 2009 at 11:16 am

Great tutorial! 🙂 I love to use the "booger dots" for crafts. 🙂

18 Room to Inspire September 1, 2009 at 11:23 am

I really love it, thanks for the step by step!


19 hotmama1 September 1, 2009 at 2:43 pm

i love.. love.. love this project and I think it's the perfect solution to the one wall in my boys room that is so big and empty. It looks great! You are so creative. Thanks for sharing your genius ideas with us!

20 Gina September 1, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Great post, and yep-it's totally understandable. I love the idea of using the corner things, the less corners to put together the better!

21 Kate Coveny Hood September 1, 2009 at 3:55 pm

what a great "how to"! I'm bookmarking this – it's time to start thinking about doing something with my kids' bedroom walls…

22 Lissa September 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm

I love the map!! It looks awesome, Kimba!

I hate to be a downer, but I wanted to let you know that adhesive dots do indeed ruin your drywall. I found this out tonight. I was trying to decide where to position something on my wall and it was cardboard, heavier than paper, so I thought, "Aha! I'll use Kimba's idea and use Zots!" Well, it was only hanging there for maybe ten minutes, and when I pulled it down, every dot took down drywall with it. My husband just gave me a sour face and said, "All adhesives and double-sided tape will do that to drywall." Oops.

I'm not sure what a better alternative is, and maybe if the map is going to be there for years, you don't care! It didn't take out chunks, just the surface.

Thanks again for a well-written post. You explained it perfectly, and I will definitely look for awesome stuff to frame out in the future!

23 SoCal Helene September 1, 2009 at 7:03 pm

It looks awesome! What a great statement in any room!

;0) Helene

24 christy September 1, 2009 at 8:15 pm

This is an aweomse & timely post! I was just looking on ebay today for a large map for a wall in my house. Love this & thanks for all the links! Can't wait to try it.

25 Jennifer Juniper September 1, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Smart girl – I asked and now am stuck with giant Fatheads of Heinz Ward and Big Ben on my boy's walls! Your rooms look so nice compared to our sporty mish mash.

26 Jennifer Juniper September 1, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Oh, and maybe tacks would work since the edges are under the frame you made. Maybe a pin hole will be preferable to a booger chunk.

27 VICKI IN AZ September 1, 2009 at 11:17 pm

This is amazing, I love maps. I have always wanted to do something like this, now I feel like I might be able to, Thank You!

I linked to your blog over at because I wanted to share a Kreativ Blogger award with you. This is most sweetly a Soft Place to Land here.

28 Sarah Mae September 2, 2009 at 4:12 am

Kimba, I love this idea, especially for my homeschool room!

Thank you, for once again making me feel like I *can* be creative! 🙂

29 Kristen September 2, 2009 at 6:44 am

Kimba – you have saved me hours of on-line blog hunting! I have a space similar to that playroom and I'm starting to get ready to do something with it. But of course, couldn't remember where I saw it! Thanks so much for linking C Girl for me! 🙂

Great job on the map BTW – I'm resisting the requests for NASCAR (??) Star Wars and Transformer rooms around here on a daily basis!

30 Kelly @ Wisdom Begun September 2, 2009 at 7:13 am

I absolutely love this! This would make a great birthday or Christmas gift for my hubby. Thanks for the inspiration.

31 Melanie September 2, 2009 at 7:24 am

Love the map! Great for a guys room. Super pics and directions on your project!

32 The Whispering Creek House September 2, 2009 at 8:08 am

I went to a garage sale this summer and got the most amazing deal! An old book of full maps from national geographic for only a dollar! i felt like i was stealing! This project would be great for my boys room too! thanhks for sharing! love your blog!

33 Jane (Frugal Fine Living) September 2, 2009 at 2:38 pm

That map looks fantastic with the moulding frame! I bet your son was happy when he saw it.


34 jodi @ Pleasant Home September 3, 2009 at 11:00 am

Awesome project! LOVE maps.

35 Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick September 4, 2009 at 7:34 am

Love it and love that you used the miter saw!! Aww yeah. That map is beautiful!

36 Gretchen September 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm

What a perfect addition to a young boys room! I think maps are so much fun to have. I wish I had one in my kitchen or den to teach my grandchildren about places to go.


37 September 6, 2009 at 3:02 pm

WOW! That turned out gorgeous! Thanks so much for the how-to. I'll be linking.

38 Beth- the mama bee September 7, 2009 at 7:28 pm

that's great. I love it. I have dinosaur posters in my sons room, but they need a little sprucing up! This is perfect!

39 Saucy September 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I've always loved the look and feel of framed maps and documents. They are masculine and add such great character!

40 Anonymous September 10, 2009 at 6:52 am

Thanks for the great idea. It came at the perfect time as I'm looking to frame two large amusement park maps to put in my basement. This is the perfect solution.

41 virginia bed and breakfast September 10, 2009 at 10:08 pm

It looks much informative and stylish as well.I will frame it in my kids room.They will get to know about the us map and locations.Nice

42 Michelle, Queen of Everything September 12, 2009 at 9:04 am

I love this idea! Especially since large prints are usually inexpensive and it's the framing costs that end up busting my budget.

I would have never thought to frame something to the wall.

It looks great!

43 Anonymous November 2, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I actually did something really similar with a National Geographic World Map. The map itself was about $19.99 and then I had it matted and framed at Michael's Craft Store (during one of their 60% off framing sales). I used pushpins to mark all the places I have lived or visited, and I keep adding to it as I travel. The frame was somewhat expensive, but I have it in my office at work, and people love it. It's definitely a conversation piece and quite of few coworkers have copied the idea.

44 Erin December 31, 2009 at 7:03 am

Thanks! I have a map that needs framed, I would have never thought to do it this way! … off to get my supplies!!

45 Struggler February 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

Thank you – great idea to use those corner pieces to save mitering. I really think I might be able to tackle something like this!

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