Four Trips Around the World

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover


What’s black, white, and chic all over?  That would be my new globe!  Before I go much further, I need to issue a warning to my former geography teacher: if you happen to stumble upon this post, please skip it.  Some funny business may be about to happen to an old globe.  No globes were necessarily hurt in the process, just altered… slightly…

But let me start at the beginning.

Now that we’re slowing down on full-on room makeovers, I’ve been more focused on accessorizing.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by finding things that both fit our decor, fill the space needed, but also don’t just look like I raided all the shelves of Home Goods for a generic look.  Don’t get me wrong- I love me some Home Goods but it’s hard to find unique, one-of-a-kind pieces in a box store.  That’s why I’ve been trying to outfit our home with both the new and old to give it that truly lived-in, home-y feel.

To help fill the “old” criteria, I’ve been loving the non-traditional look of black and white globes lately.  It transforms a classic school room item into chic looking decor.

I especially loved the idea of a chalkboard globe, especially with chalkboard’s newfound popularity.

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Source: Pinterest

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Source: Domayne 

I found these two retail options- one from Z Gallerie (non-chalkboard) and the other from Anthropologie (made of soapstone for a chalk option).

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Source: Z Gallerie, $79.95

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Source: Anthropologie, $368 

Hmm… a little pricey for a non-functional globe who’s only purpose is making a corner of my room prettier (former geography teacher- are you still reading? Seriously, skip this post).

I figured this would be the perfect candidate for our next DIY.

I know some people have refinished globes and used them as a message board instead, but I actually like the look of all the continents on there so I decided to stay that route (see geography teach, I’m a half truest so not all is lost!).

I was pretty on-board with a chalkboard option… until our 3 year-old nephew was scheduled for a visit and we dashed around the house child-proofing as best we could.  In the midst of our impromptu safety check, I came to the realization that a chalkboard globe was doomed for being erased if ever in reach of anyone under the age of 13 (or with my luck, the cat would think it was her new friend and lick it clean) and the thought of redrawing all seven continents again sounded like a nightmare.  No thanks.  The more permanent, the better.


I’m not much of a geography expert. In fact, unless they make a car or beer I like, I probably can’t find it on a map… which basically means I can only find Germany and Ireland. So when Julie announced she wanted a globe, I figured it would at least be a learning opportunity, so the search began.

Around the same time, my mom knew we were always on the lookout for cool antiques and was offering a few items she had picked up from my grandparents’ house, one of which was, rather conveniently, a globe. Apparently my great-grandfather was a teacher, and she had picked up the globe he had in his classroom. It was about at simple as you could get- it was round, resembled the planet earth, and had a stand that did little more than hold its axis on a tilt and allow it to spin… sort of- but it was all we were really looking for. I got my mom’s blessing to paint it, and now we had a project.

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

First of all, since we were going to paint it, we needed a way to redraw the continents after we painted over them. Granted, this thing was so old it still listed Prussia and the USSR as countries, but the continents have only moved a negligible distance since the 50s and Julie only wanted to trace the continents, so it was good enough. I’m so bad at drawing that I can’t even trace, so that part was left to Julie. I just had to spray it.

Since we were going to paint the stand differently than the globe, I had to find a way to hold it up to paint it. My solution? Cut apart and bend up a coat hangar and hang it from a tree in the backyard:

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Pretty cool, huh? I wanted to do a scaled-down version of the solar system, but a) our entire neighborhood isn’t big enough and b) I have yet to find globes for the other seven planets. Bummer.

Anyway, once I got it strung up, I sprayed it with a coat of primer:

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Now that I turned the Earth into the Moon, it was time for a few coats of black paint. We went with a basic flat black and since we weren’t convinced this would work out in the first place, we just used the cheap stuff from Wal-Mart.

Julie wasn’t particularly fond of me using her curtain rod to dry my globe:

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Once it was dry, we just had to paint the continents back on! As I stated before, I can’t even trace, so that task fell to Julie as well.


You know what’s more fun than tracing a full globe once?  Doing it twice.

Okay, so this was the more cumbersome point of the project but I just turned on Brother vs Brother on HGTV to distract me from the mundane task (anyone else watching that show and wishing they just filmed another series of Design Star instead?).

While you may already know they sell carbon transfer paper, did you know they sell white transfer paper?  This really saved the day on this project.  The regular carbon paper transfer would’ve gotten lost on the black paint so this did just the trick.

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

I taped the tracing paper I had originally traced the continents onto on top of the white transfer paper then taped that to the globe.  Be sure you have it taped in a few places so it doesn’t slip while you’re tracing it.  I found it helpful to trace each continent on its own tracing paper sheet then trace them on the globe one by one.  I also left myself guides when I ran out of sheet (i.e. Turkey goes here, or match up Spain here, etc).

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Use a ball-point pen (color doesn’t matter) to trace the image.  Push hard on the pen so as you need to go through two layers- the tracing paper and the white transfer paper- but don’t push so hard that it tears the sheet.

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Getting up close and personal with the world even taught me a few things in the process:

  • I forgot how close Russia and Alaska were to each other.  I mean, I know Palin can supposedly see Russia from her house but, really, she probably can!
  • Greenland is massive.  I mean seriously, that country practically took up it’s own transfer sheet.

Here’s an example of what the transfer looks like on the globe after tracing it.

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Now to make it more permanent.  The best tool for tracing these thin continent lines was a white Sharpie paint pen.  I used the oil-based paint version with a fine point, found at art supply stores.

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

Yay for tracing the world for a third time!  Seriously, time to enter me into a geography bee (hopefully they use a 1950s map).  Be sure to shake the paint pen and press the tip down a few times to test it before going to town on the globe.

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

The paint was showing up a little thin on the first coat so I went over it a second time.  Yup, you counted right… I ended up drawing the world a total of four times.  Good thing a Brother vs Brother marathon was on… although, I’m seriously annoyed by that show.  For anyone else who watched it, was I the only one annoyed that the girl who worked her butt off despite having the flu didn’t even make it to the final two?  Also, how ridiculous was it that they wasted air time having the teams compete to see which house they would work on each week?  No one cares- just give them their assignment and let them start working.  Sorry, rant over.

With the fourth coat, we were done!  Finally!

For those of you wanting to recreate this project, here’s our list of materials:

  • Flat black spray paint (the cheap kind from Walmart will do): $1
  • Tracing paper (found at any art supply store): $3
  • White transfer paper (found at any art supply store): $3 (with 40% coupon at JoAnn’s)
  • White Sharpie pen, fine point (found at any art supply store): $3
  • Old globe: ours was free
  • Total cost: $10

Not too bad for $10 huh?  You can find cheap globes at flea markets and thrift stores so even if your awesome in-laws don’t have a spare one on-hand to let you experiment with, you can still do this project on the cheap.


DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover

DO or DIY | Globe Makeover



Filed under Easy DIY Projects

19 responses to “Four Trips Around the World

  1. John O'Shea

    What a “worldly” couple!

  2. Charlene O'Shea

    So clever!!

  3. So cute! (And I love reading you guys!)

  4. This looks amazing!

    And I completely agree with B vs B. Perhaps it has potential, but they definitely have some kinks to work out before it’s a must-see.

    • DO or DIY

      Glad I’m not alone, Meghan. I think we had too high of hopes for the first season but I’ll still hold out hope they get the second season right! I love a good DIY competition show!


  5. mary w.

    Your result looks amazing, but I just have to mention a pet peeve…the Mercator projection, which is what you see almost everywhere, is pretty inaccurate. Greenland is not massive. AFRICA is massive. And Greenland is about 1/14 the size of Africa. Check out the Pedersen projection some time. Still, I love how yours came out!

    • DO or DIY

      I knew that couldn’t be correct! I was thinking I was crazy and had a really misconstrued idea of how the world was laid out and I just missed the fact that Greenland was large enough to be a continent. Thanks for clearing that up! I’ll have to check that out!


  6. mary w.

    Gah! Got the name wrong. Been a while since I was in the classroom teaching 6th grade. Its called the Gall-Peters projection. Wikipedia has a great page on it.

  7. I love your disclaimer. AS a geography nut and once whom intended to pursue a Geography Education degree, a little part of me dies inside when I see a good globe painted. Still, it looks great!

  8. Audrey Harrelson

    Really enjoying your posts, as well as the alternating views which make your blog unique. I DO have to ask about the stand – what was it repurposed from, because it’s a key part of the look?

    • DO or DIY

      Great question, Audrey. The stand started out as an oak wood finish (circa mid-80’s) and wasn’t pretty. I actually received it as a custom paint job for someone and refinished it in the distressed black for the classic Pottery Barn look then borrowed it for these pictures. I’m on the hunt to find my own now because it was the perfect size for that space. I’m hoping I can find a comparable one at a flea market or secondhand shop for a good price!


  9. Jaclyn

    Can I pay you to decorate my house (when I have one)?

    • DO or DIY

      You know it. Now hurry up and buy one because I’m running out of rooms in my house! 🙂 Oh, and make Chicago a lot closer while you’re at it!


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