map chairs

Vintage maps have been a theme of mine this year. I’ve made coasters, necklaces, and a decorated storage box. I’ve also been on a downsizing kick. Isn’t it perfect timing that about the time we start thinking about downsizing, our kids start needing to upsize? That’s the case with these do it yourself map dining chairs. Our oldest son is in college and moving into a place that has space for a dining table and chairs. We had the survivors from our first set of dining chairs scattered all over our house and garage. They have been painted, broken, fixed, glued, you name it. These chairs have been operating as individuals for the last decade or so, not as a set. Until now. I decided I’d try to clean them up and continue with the map theme, because our son is a huge fan of vintage maps. We have an old table from Ikea we are giving him, too, to go along with these salvaged Ikea chairs.

I am not an experienced furniture refinisher, so this project took me over 40 hours over the course of a week and a half. I spent a lot of time working in the garage, listening to Pandora. Is it a coincidence that lots of the songs reminded me of Andy? I think not. I heard everything from animated Disney of the nineties to Coldplay to Neil Diamond. I’m pretty sure I covered his musical lifetime during my time in the garage. I already had him on my mind while I was working on the project, but it felt like I kept getting these extra reminders with each song.

Here are the chairs I started with. Some had been painted, some had broken spots, and all had paint splatters on them.

surviving dining chairs

This post is about how I did this project. I’m not a pro. This is just what worked for me. If you try it, be sure to follow any directions on the products you use. My first step was to disassemble, sand and glue the chairs back together. I decided to glue them even though they are the kind of chairs that aren’t supposed to need glue because they have been through a lot. We will not be taking these apart again. The wood glue added extra stability that I wanted them to have. I left the seats off for the entire process because I wanted to be able to work with them separately from the chairs. Here’s our garage as a chair hospital:

dining chair hospital

Once prepped, it was time to paint. I wanted to try chalk paint. I used this recipe for the chalk paint: 1 cup latex paint, 2 tablespoons unsanded grout, and water as needed. I had to keep adding water every now and then because it would get too thick to work well. I painted three coats of paint on the chairs.

dining chair supplies

After the paint had dried, I distressed the chairs. I had heard that one of the benefits of chalk paint was that it’s easy to distress. It was. Because these chairs were rough to start with, I knew I wanted a distressed look because they were going to look distressed even if I didn’t rough them up more. Once distressed, I gave the chairs a coat of wax and buffed it with an orbital sander.

Next came the map phase. I started with the vintage atlas and looked at the different styles and sizes of maps. I wanted just one sheet of paper for the seats, with no seams. My atlas pages were too small for this, so to make it work, I scanned the pages I wanted to use, then had my incredibly kind and talented husband do a little photo shop work to combine them in the places where the continents were split to two pages. So, I ended up turning eight pages into four pages. When it came time to see how the maps I chose would look on the chairs, we scanned the chair seat and made a template to test different looks on the computer. It ended up that I liked having a lot of ocean showing, so I used only two of the four images we created. I didn’t split them exactly in half, so it was nice to have the photoshop work done so I could choose whatever size I liked best for the images. I had the images printed from a wide format inkjet printer. It was really nice because Brian had sized them so they were a perfect fit for the chair seats. I cut them out with an xacto knife.

map chairs

To attach the maps to the seats of the chairs, I used Mod Podge. I painted a coat on the seat and then pressed the map down on top. I used a roller to smooth out any bubbles.

map chairs

Once the maps were stuck on the chairs, I used Mod Podge to coat the tops of the maps. I did four coats, in alternating directions, with each coat drying before the next coat was applied. After the first coat there were a couple of ripples on one of the chairs, so I used my fingers to push them down. It worked perfectly.

map chairs

Mod Podge leaves ridges, and this project was no different. I like the texture. You can sort of see it in this photo.

map chairs

After the Mod Podge had dried, I used polyurethane to seal the maps even more. I wanted to be sure these chairs could be used around food and drink and still survive. I did four coats, letting each coat dry for several hours before applying the next coat. I alternated between side to side and front to back.

map chairs

When the seats were completely dry, I used the orbital sander with the buffing pad to dull the finish a little on the polyurethane, since it looks different than the flat finish I was going for with the rest of the chairs. You can tell that the finishes are different, but I think it still looks good and I’m confident that if someone spills a drink on the chair seat, the map won’t peel off. The last step was to screw the seats back on to the chair frames.

Here are the four chairs now:

map chairs

And here they are with the hand-me-down table, too. I know there is a lot going on in these photos, but it was rainy when I was trying to get the photos so I set them up in the middle of our living room for the photo shoot.

map chairs

map chairs

map chairs

map chairs

map chairs

I love how these turned out. If I hadn’t promised them to our son, I would definitely keep them.

Linking up to some of these fabulous parties:

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36 Responses to Map Dining Chairs DIY

  1. Bethany K says:

    Not pro? Suuure. These look like they’re out of a magazine. I really really like them. But I have no equipment or space for such projects. I’ll just enjoy yours for now. :)

  2. Carol jemison says:

    What a great job you did. Just think of all the new events the chairs will be “invited to”!

  3. Jamie says:

    Wow! You did an amazing job! I love these chairs 😉
    Jamie @
    PS: I’m your newest follower

  4. Love these chairs!! Such a great idea!

    • Betsy says:

      Thanks, Stephanie! I’m kind of missing them now that they’re at our son’s place. Maybe I should come up with my own map project?

  5. Brandy says:

    So cute! I’m with the person above. You sure sound like a pro. Up to this point, I’ve avoided any and all chairs with even a little wobble. Maybe I’ll get the confidence to disassemble and re-assemble with some glue the next time I have the opportunity!

    • Betsy says:

      Thanks, Brandy! I didn’t think they’d last long without glue. Once I glued them, though, they were very stable. I’m only a pro because I’ve lived with three kids who periodically rock back in the chair and I’ve experienced the big ker-splat! Any extra support is good. :)

  6. julie says:

    I love a good map project! They turned out great!

  7. […] Map Dining Chairs @ Anna Nimmity […]

  8. […] can’t get over the idea of plastering a map on just about anything?  Then these awesome chairs are for […]

  9. Danielle says:

    I LOVE your chairs. I have a thing for maps. I would love you to share these at my link party – Silver Pennies Sundays – if you get a chance!

  10. Karen says:

    I adore maps, and these chairs are too cute! I would have a hard time giving them up. Thanks for sharing; I also put a link on my blog.
    Karen @ annumography

  11. […] DIY Map Dinning Room Chairs – Anna Nimmity […]

  12. Thanks for linking up to Whimsy Wednesday! Your project has been featured this week!

    Also, you can add your project {or any project} to my website. I feature them on my main slider on the home page…follow this link to submit your project!

    Be sure to stop by and grab a button…

  13. What a fun project! those turned out great!

    • Betsy says:

      Thanks, Gretchen! It was fun at the end when it all started to come together. The prep work was, well, not fun. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. These look fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing it on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, I’ve pinned it. Also, I’d love to invite you to link up your blog to my new OAS & GF Bloggers page, a place to connect with other bloggers who sometimes write about being gluten free or having oral allergy syndrome : )

  15. […] maps have been a theme of mine this year,” says Betsy of The View From In Here.  So, when her oldest son was moving into a place of his own and needed some furniture, Betsy knew […]

  16. Last Minute Lynn says:

    Your chairs are wonderful. You have a very lucky son! Hopefully, your projects will inspire him to be a DYIer in the future.

  17. Abbie says:

    These are wonderful! I’m needing a good map project, and this one is great!

  18. […] AnnaNimmity – I love anything maps. I love using them to decoupage furniture! She did these amazing chairs………they go great with the decoupaged vintage map table I did a while back. […]

  19. THese look fabulous! What a clever idea, and so trendy! They look brand new!!

  20. […] adore maps.  Check out these fabulous map chairs by Betsy at Anna Nimmity.  They are so […]

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