March 26, 2011

How to use Nautical Charts to Map out a Feature Wall

Home Office of The Concord Green Healthy Home.  Design by Lisa Kauffman Tharp.  Photo:  Eric Roth.

Nautically-inspired interior design is a wonderful way to connect your home with nature.  It can veer into the land of cliche however, so one has to execute carefully.   For this Office space, I actually pull from several thematic territories - nautical, barn and flight (with that gorgeous antique propeller) - but it works because each element is quietly adding to the overall beauty of the space without calling too much theme-y attention to itself.

Of course, the nautical chart wall is one of the principle elements that pulls the room together.   I have always loved nautical charts for their muted tan and aqua colors, and ability to conjure up daydreams of sailing the seas.  (Hmm, perhaps I wouldn't get much work done at that desk.)

Here is how you can recreate this look:

1.   Plan.   Select a focal point wall (or get crazy and cover the entire room).  Measure to calculate the square footage of chart material needed.
2.  Source and prep chart material.  Expired edition charts are easier to find at reasonable prices in large quantity.  Trim up to the colored areas with an exacto knife and straight edge.
3. Layout.  Spread out the trimmed charts on the floor to make sure the design is pleasing.  Pay attention to the balance between colors and white space.  Don't be afraid to cut and piece different charts together to make the design more interesting.
4.  Tack up charts (and paste, if desired).   Using push pins, tack up the trimmed charts to the wall.  I used clear pins and smoothed the charts tightly as I covered the wall, trimming for a perfect fit as I went along.  I planned the tacking as a prep-step prior to pasting the charts with homemade wallpaper paste, but it looked so good that I didn't need to go the extra step.  If you do want to paste them to the wall, here is a great non-toxic recipe for wallpaper paste.  Be sure to test first, to make sure the colors will not run.
Barn Doors: I designed the tall sliding barn doors to provide ultimate flexibility between the Office space and the adjacent Dining Room / Library.  When all four doors are slid to the side wall, the two spaces feel like one larger space.  When closed, the Office has privacy, while still sharing light and views through the upper glass.  

Nautical Charts - Maryland Nautical Sales
Barn Doors - Design by Lisa Kauffman Tharp.  Built by Circle B / Barn Depot.
Propeller and pillow - Nesting On Main
Chair - Arhaus
Custom Drapery Panels - Acorn Interiors
Art and Model Sailboat - Powers Gallery


  1. I love this office! What a great idea to add nautical maps to produce that seaside aura.

  2. Do you ever consult on new home designs? I have a friend who is building a new home that would love your help. Also, do you provide interior design services for existing home owners?

  3. Hello Anonymous.

    Thanks for your questions. Yes, I do consult on both new home designs, as well as interior design for new and existing homes. If a client is not in the Boston area, I can work remotely as well... a digital camera, phone and email are the only requirements.

    My goal is to help clients with important decisions that can make a home healthier, greener and more beautiful, and hopefully save them time, money and stress in the process.

    Email me at to learn more.



  4. I love this!!!! it's just fabulous!!!!!!!!!! those doors, the maps, its unreal. sooo wonderful!

  5. Thanks, Joni! As you know, I am a huge fan of your blog, so your comment means a lot to me!!


  6. Just another idea to compliment yours. Rather than paste a collage of nautical charts, you can pick your favorite chart and select an area within it to be expanded into a nautical chart mural; i.e., one chart, one wall.

    And the best part is that the mural is a substantial paper with a vinyl sheen that will outlast any paper chart on a wall.

    Custom nautical chart murals is what I do. I'd be glad to help, or share ideas with you.


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