DIY Nautical Map Chart Wallpaper

Today, I’m delighted to have a guest blogger joining us to share one of the lovely results of an extensive renovation project:  this coastal-themed half bathroom.

Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

One of the standout features of this room is the nautical map wallpaper.  It’s a map wall!  I think I’ve told you before, I love maps–the colors, the details, the sense of adventure they give me.  I’m totally hooked when I see a picture of room that includes any kind of a map or globe.  In fact, I’ve got quite a collection of inspiration pictures of rooms decorated with maps.  (Links to sources are listed underneath the rows of pictures.)

Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

1.  Emily Henderson | 2. Beautiful Inspirations | 3. Houzz | 4.  Better Homes & Gardens | 5. Beautiful Inspirations | 6. Project Wedding  | 7. Real Simple | 8. Centsational Girl

Not only did today’s guest blogger design a gorgeous bathroom around nautical charts, she provided a good tutorial to show the rest of us how it’s done.  I’m going to let Laurel tell you how she decorated a Maine cottage half bath with maps.

Submitted by: SoPo Cottage

I’m Laurel, from the blog SoPo Cottage.  My husband and I have a passion for renovating old houses. We’ve done it many times in our own homes (6 times!), but now we want to see if we can turn that passion into a business model – in this tough real estate market. Are we crazy? Maybe, but we want to give it a try.We share our experiences as we renovate and decorate these houses for today’s modern lifestyle over at SoPo Cottage.

In the house we are currently renovating, I wanted something different for the powder room bathroom.  It’s a small space and I wanted to make it really special.  Here’s a before picture, of the part of the house we carved this little bathroom out of.

SoPo Cottage Map Wall before

The powder room  is now one of my favorite rooms in the house.  It’s a jewel box of a room – with beautiful features and finishes.  That’s one of the fun things about a powder room.  It’s a small space (and you don’t spend a lot of time there!), so you can be a bit dramatic! 

Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Here are a few of the details.

The espresso wood vanity has a gleaming, solid glass top.  

And to play it up a bit, I added these bubble glass knobs. Sconces flank the oval mirror, providing lots of light in addition to the window.

Above the dual flush toilet is a Pottery Barn glass shelf, providing space for collectibles.

My favorite feature – the marble floor, which is made of three different types of marble, all ovals.  It was a splurge, but worth every penny.  It makes such a statement!

The marble floor and fixtures are all great – but I really wanted to punch it up in this small space. Keeping with our coastal theme, I decided to install nautical charts for a feature wall. I scoured yard sales for weeks and finally found a whole set of charts for the wall. They’ve got some history to them – I love the fact that they have creases and notations in the corners. Very authentic. Very Maine! 

Here’s a tutorial for installing nautical map wallpaper, in case you want to do something similar in your own home.


Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Step 1 – figure out the layout for the charts (or maps….or posters….or any paper item!).  Since this isn’t regular wallpaper, you need to decide what chart you want where and how the overlap will work.  This means you need to decide which charts go in first and how you’ll add successive layers.

Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Step 2 –  cut approximately to size.  It’s a little tricky to hang these charts, so you want to cut away any excess before you start.  It will make the whole process much easier!
Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Step 3 –  apply wallpaper paste to the back.  I used a general purpose paste, that was ready mixed.  Be sure and apply to all edges.
Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Step 4 – ‘Book’ the paper.  This means you fold it on itself, so that the sticky sides are together.  This lets the paste soak in and get the paper to a consistent moisture level.  I let it ‘book’ for approximately 3 minutes.  If you wait much longer, the charts are more likely to tear as you start to install them.
Nautical Map Wallpaper Tutorial

Step 5 – place the chart on the wall, making sure you have it straight first.  Then gently brush it to the edges, pushing any bubbles out.  Finally, and this is the really tricky part, you need to cut the edges.  Since this isn’t vinyl wallpaper, it will want to tear on you.  Take a joint knife and push it against the wall, where you want to make the cut.  Then take a very sharp blade and cut along the edge of the joint knife.  I don’t like those plastic blades with the tips that break off – I find an old fashioned utility knife with lots of fresh blades works the best.  It might help to let the paper dry a bit, if you find it is tearing.

Step 6 – Gently wipe any paste off the surface of the paper.  Move onto the next piece and continue until you do your final, top layer, chart.

Step 7 – If you want to protect the surface, coat it with a clear coating.  However, make sure you really like it first, because once that’s done, you won’t be able to strip it back off.

SoPo Cottage Map Wall feature pic

Isn’t Laurel’s bathroom makeover beautiful?  I’m so glad she shared her tips for making wallpaper out of vintage maps—it’s something I’ve definitely got to try.  If you loved today’s “mapspiration”, here are links to more Remodelaholic posts with map projects:

Remodelaholic Mapspiration Collage

1.  Canvas Map Art | 2.  Map Art from Scraps | 3.  Map Outline Mural

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    1. Thanks Amanda. An accent wall makes sense because 1) it would be overpowering to have that much going on all around the room and 2) it’s a good bit of work to put up!!! Glad you liked it. Check out our blog at for other ideas.

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the tips on wallpapering with sea charts. I like your web site. We both know that nothing beats a nautical theme for decorating a bathroom. I have a big bunch of real sea charts (expired) that I picked up for free at a shop in lower Manhattan (I live in Brooklyn). I’ve been wanting to wallpaper my bathroom with them for a long time. It looks like I’m finally getting down to it but there are still some thoughts I’m wrestling with. Maybe you can help:
    1) Will the paper charts (not vinyl) hold up to the bathroom moisture?
    2) Can the paper charts be laminated? If so, will that make them too thick and heavy?
    3) I’m very big on color matching. I want the colors in the sea charts to work just right with the tile
    colors. Is it posible to copy the charts (laser I guess) and adjust/fine tune the colors in the process?
    Any advice would certainly be appreciated.

    Thank you,
    John Wallestad
    Any advice

    1. Barbara, She used actual maps and cut them out of the book to the style and shape she wanted. Take a moment and actually read the article, it’s very informative.

  2. Did you use a clear coating yourself and, if you did, what did you use to seal it? I want to do this to my son’s room, he loves maps, but he’s still a boy and autistic, so I need to make certain it’s sealed…