DIY Map Table Tutorial

The story of the DIY Map Coffee Table.
For many years now we have had no coffee table.  Our previous house was all tile with one large area rug in the living room. For a house with small babies, this was the only non-head-bumping-into-tile place to play. So the coffee table we did have went, soon after baby #1 started to get mobile.  5 years later, the kids have their balance (most of the time) and I'd like a place to put a drink down. I was on the hunt.

I found this coffee table at an antique/flea market for $40 (it is not antique... but very sturdy... witch is important when you know your children will be diving off of it onto the couch). It also has storage and is large... exactly what I was looking for. My husband was WAY less than trilled when I brought it home. It was dirty, peeling, chipping, and covered in 20 coats of old paint. I don't blame him, but I had a vision.

Here's what I did.

  • A table - or some piece of furniture with a large flat surface.
  • Latex paint - Mine is Glidden flat from Home Depot
  • Plaster - You can buy a whole carton for around $7 at Home Depot. It will last forever.
  • Paste Finishing Wax - Mine is Minwax brand
  • Craft paint in various colors and small brushes
  • Painter's tape
  • A map - I found mine on Google, printed it out on multiple sheets, and taped it together.
  • X-acto knife
  • Fine grit sandpaper (maybe heavy duty grit too if you're furniture is in really rough shape)
Step 1
Sand and scrape your furniture piece until you have a mostly smooth, even surface. I had to dig chunks of old paint out of the molding on the top. Wipe off the dust.

Step 2
Mix your chalk paint. Mix 2 cups of your base color with 1/3 cup of plaster and a tiny bit of water.  I added some black to my white base color.  So my table is actually really light gray. This part is forgiving... you can eyeball it.

Step 3
Paint your base color.  I did 2 coats of chalk paint and lightly sanded after the last one to make the surface really smooth.
Pay no attention to the fact that the table may have been painted green, then brownish green, then tealish, before the gray chalk paint.  I might have had a few craft fails before arriving to this point.

Step 4
Cut your map.  I used an X-acto blade and roughly cut out the majority of land masses.  There are going to be several angry Canadians out there because I edited many of their upper islands.  Sorry, there were too many and it's cold up there anyway! Japan is missing as well! It's "art", right?? : /

Step 5
Paint your world. I placed the map on top of the table and taped it in place.  Then I painted lightly from the outer edges inward around all of the continents until the whole map was roughed in.  I switched between all of my craft paints to do this.  Sometimes blue, sometimes green, yellow and gray.

Step 6
Remove the paper map and continue painting.  This is the part thats up to you. You can make it as "painterly" or crisp as you want. I chose to water down my paint and let a lot of it drip onto the map using a plastic spoon.  Then I smudged a bit with a damp rag.

Step 7
If you have another area on the piece, tape off a cool pattern. I did an X shape on my center shelf using 1" painter's tape. Just find the center and go from the corners to there. Then work your way out using another piece of tape as a spacer. I painted these stripes in the same colors I used on the top.

Step 8
Add some detail to storage boxes. This took less than a minute. I lined up the boxes, eyeballed a stripe with two pieces of tape, and painted across all 3 at once.  Then I painted the little paper ovals that came with the boxes and put those inside the handle space.  Very easy!

Step 9
Wax on, wax off! Give your piece a coat of finishing wax to protect your work, buff it off, and you're done!


  1. Ohhh.. this is so beautiful and you make it look so easy... :).. i am in love with your blog. and taking loads of inspiration... <3..

    much love http://www.nicksnacksbyme.blogspot.com/

  2. I totally loved this project and voted for it. The colors you chose worked together very nicely.

    I posted my votes from round 2&3 over on my blog:

    1. Awesome! Thanks for the votes.. it was fun :) I'm going to check it out right now.

  3. Great job again on the table! Seriously still in awe over the map!

  4. Lol @ the whole Canadians will be angry part, well not only did you leave off some random arctic islands you left off half of Newfoundland. Poor Newfies. At least you kept Nova Scotia in :)

    1. hahaha! Maybe one day I'll add them back in if they're lucky. ;)

  5. This is ridiculously awesome! Very creative.