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Imitation is an Inexpensive Form of Flattery

decor diy letts maps paris restoration hardware rustic vintage wood

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. To imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment. Although the original quote attributed to Oscar Wilde actually states “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness” I'm guessing he was unaware of my budget and my love for all things Restoration Hardware. The truth is when it comes to decor - I do love me some high-end stores, I just can't marry that love with their prices.  For instance...

I had been long lusting after this gorgeous Vintage Inspired Paris map from Restoration Hardware. It's a reproduction of an actual Lett's & Sons map of Paris circa 1800's and the detail is amazing. Each building of that era is lovingly detailed with amazing clarity. This map is actually found all over the internet (along with hundreds of others) and is in the public domain - which means it's free to download y'all! So, since my wallet was pretty much opposed to forking over $1,300 to feed the Restoration Hardware coffers (yes, you're reading that right) or even $699 at Pottery Barn for their similar but not exact version, I decided to make my own.

Google and I searched (well Google searched while I pushed keys on my laptop and drank coffee) and found a very high-resolution version at Wikimedia Commons and downloaded it. I copied it to a flash drive and took it over to my local Staples and had them print up a color version 50" X 36" of the map for around $27. You can get a black & white version for $7.99 if you prefer. But I wanted the color so I bit the bullet for the few extra dollars. It came out beautifully with all of the amazing detail of the original.

Next, I shopped the wood pile in my garage for a piece of plywood that would work. I had to trim it down to fit the map with a half inch border all around. After sanding it smooth and wiping it with a lint-free towel to remove the debris, it was ready.  I used simple  Elmer's Craftbond Spray Adhesive to attach my map to the plywood.

A word here. The glue dries fairly quickly so for the size of my project I sprayed just one side a few inches to get the corners of the map affixed correctly. I then smoothed it down and removed any air bubbles before spraying the next bit. I had to employ the labor of the darling man because it's kind of a two man job to ensure that it adheres in the right place and without any bubbles. We worked in sections until the entire map was down. I gently wiped it with a dry towel to make certain that there weren't any folds or ridges. Take the time to smooth it out, you don't want to have to reprint because of a tear or fold or bubble that won't come out.

I purchased 8 feet of small outside corner wood molding from Home Depot for about $7, stained it in my favorite Minwax Dark Walnut and gave it one coat of satin polyurethane. I mitered the corners and glued it directly to the plywood. Once glued, I reinforced the trim with a few finish nails.  I didn't want to put anything in front of the map (RH uses plexiglass) because I just love the vintage feel of the map itself. So I gave it a light spray of Polycrylic for protection. But you can also use ModPodge.

And voila!

Isn't it fabulous?  All in I spent less than $50 and hung it excitedly on my living room wall above my sofa - which just happens to have some homemade (by me!) french themed pillows. Love, love it!


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