The house I grew up in is awesome, and if you’ve met my parents you know they are serious DIYers. There’s barely an inch of the house that my parents haven’t tweaked, built, painted, and made their own. It’s full of modified old furniture, pictures and mementos from great grandparents, and parts of older houses that were torn down – I honestly find something I’ve never seen every time I’m home.

They’ve gone through room after room over the last twenty years, turning the garage into a living room, adding a second floor, creating a home that has all the right nooks and crannies, and they finally arrived at one of the last rooms – the main floor bathroom. Everyone that comes over uses it, and somehow it flew under the radar for a full twenty years.

So it was time to pull out all the stops – do something cool, something fun, something so anti-purple-paint, beige tile, and floral wallpaper borders.

photo 2_2

Yes, that’s what it looked like before.

My mom and I both love old things, both like maps, so what better thing to use for the re-do of the bathroom but OLD MAPS. We found some great books at Foursided, an eclectic little shop in the Andersonville area of Chicago, and decided to use the covers as wallpaper. Logistics took a bit of time to figure out, but we determined the best and least damaging method would be to glue the covers to plyboard and attach the board to the wall, rather than gluing directly to the wall.

After considering the cost involved, wanting to avoid destroying old books, and concerned about the thickness of the covers, we also decided to make copies of about fifteen of them rather than purchase 50+ individual books.


We measured and cut a board the size of the wall space we wanted to cover, including holes for the lighting fixtures. Then we brushed each piece with Mod Podge and glued it down, wrapping around all edges, and working out from the center.


The last step was covering the entire thing with a layer of Mod Podge in an attempt to really seal the covers in and possibly keep out the moisture that inevitably comes along in a room with a shower. A note about doing this: they bubbled quite a bit. Nerves were high, but once it dried it was completely flat again. Then, up on the wall it went!

The next piece of the bathroom was the flooring. With much of the house becoming hardwood, it only seemed fitting to do the same in the bathroom. A friend of mine (Hi Hannah!) lived in a house that had turquoise stained floors and I always loved them. Though maybe a bit daring for some people (though not Hannah’s mom, Joyce – Hi Joyce!), a small area seemed a safe place to give it a try. Without finding the right color, my mom stained all the board herself with one layer of blue stain and one layer of green.

It turned out great.


The perfect color to pull the blues out of the wall we’d just worked on.

It was finally time to pull it all together. (Warning: there are a lot of photos here. See you in a few minutes.)












Subway tiles in the shower, a yellow stained door, an old dresser turned into a sink, and lots of little touches made this bathroom update a masterpiece of a transformation. It’s hard to believe we used that dopey old purple bathroom for so long.


4 Responses to “A Map Bathroom Makeover”

  1. Foursided

    Wow, Katie, this is AMAZING!! What a fantastic idea— it turned out so beautiful!

  2. Andrea Ingersoll

    Katie – this is fabulous! Tell you mom it is awesome~ so creative and fun! I may steal some of the ideas when Jay and I finish our bathroom downstairs. Well done!

  3. Katie

    Thank you, I’ll pass the nice message along!

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