June 8, 2012

World History: Hanging Our School Map

Back in January, our friend Richard, who writes the fab Hills & Heights neighborhood news blog here in RVA, gave us a full sized industrial pull-down world map he'd rescued from a local school in our old neighborhood as a housewarming gift. He too shares a penchant for all things vintage with a little history. We were pretty much beside ourselves with the map since we'd been on the hunt for one to re-purpose into a piece of large-scale art for more than a year.

We brought it home and discussed all sorts of areas around the house where we thought it might work best. We tossed around the idea of having it as a piece of art above one of the kids' beds, hanging it in our front entryway, the kitchen and the upstairs hallway. While we took care of other projects and generally getting moved in, we stored the map to hang later and didn't actually get to doing that until now — 4 months later.

I guess that's just how it goes sometimes, at least for us — something might hang around for months on end and then one day you just get that light-bulb moment as to where something should go and the motivation to get it done. We kept coming back to the idea of hanging the map in our upstairs hallway since it was the only untouched area of the home remaining and thought it might bring a little life and dimension to that space. So Brandon, Basil and I got to it (pajama pants and all).

First we brought two stools upstairs since we knew we'd want to hang the map pretty high so it would be eye-level as people walk by it. Then we got all the tools together — this project required:
  • Hammer
  • XL size picture hanging hardware & nails
  • Wall hook
  • Level
  • 1 pair of polar bear pants*
*Polar bear pants not required, though recommended to make sure Antarctica feels at home during the hanging process (we will see if Brandon really reads these posts)

Once we decided where we wanted the map and how high to hang it, the rest was a breeze. Brandon and I held the map steady while Basil supervised (as usual).

The map came with large holes on either side of the metal frame so while we held it in place, we simply marked with a pencil exactly where each wall hook would need to be installed. After marking, we took the map down, mounted the hardware, then gently hung the map on each of the brackets to make sure they could handle the weight.

Just look at that teamwork...

Because our upstairs hallway is so narrow and the pull down handle of the map naturally protrudes out from the wall, we had a little bit of a gap between the wall and where the map hung down which we thought looked a little funny, so I improvised by grabbing a wall hook from the tool box and installed it right where the pull-down handle of the map hung so I'd be able to secure it back closer to the wall — this worked like a charm.

And that was it! Now that the map's up we're wondering what took us so long!

We're so excited to finally have the map hung up and on display. Not only does it add a little dimension to the blank walls in our upstairs hallway, it's a great reminder of our old neighborhood and the good friends we have.


  1. HAHAHAHA!!!! Oh you are in trouble! He's going to find out you posted him in those polar bear pants ;) Very cool idea with the map. I'd have never thought of that. I'm going to keep that one in my back pocket for when all of my kids are old enough to know not to pull on it :)

    1. He found out alright, hahaha! We love having the map hanging it up — it's so large and definitely a focal point now.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Richard, couldn't have done it without you :)

  3. Love love love the map and I now am on the lookout for one that I can hang in my house...wonder if there are any schools closing nearby?

    However, as a total nerd and a science teacher I feel compelled to point out that polar bear pants won't help Antarctica feel at home since they only live in the Arctic - which is actually a good thing - I think that if there were any Antarctic Polar Bears they'd eat all the penguins :(

    1. MartiC!!!

      Thank you for the catch. As you can see, we are fond of the visual history but might not be as up to speed with the ACTUAL history, haha.

  4. Awesome! World maps are such wonderful large art pieces. We've been in our house 5 years now, and I'm still trying to figure things out when it comes to decorating. Our hallway is rather barren, and will probably remain so for quite some time, so kudos to you!

    1. Thanks Faith,

      We're definitely taking it one step at a time. It would be nice having everything done and in place, but the process has really been the fun of it. It will probably never be "complete."

  5. I have this same kind of map we discovered in the crawl space of the house we moved into. I have been trying to find a way to hang it in my disabled son's home school class room... this was a great help thank you


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