An Educational Guide to Vintage Chart Hacks

Guys, I have another completed furniture flip bucket list item to share!  Believe me, I am as surprised as you are - this is the first time I have ever been this intentional with my New Year's resolutions and I have you all to thank for it!  Seriously, without the accountability of sharing my intentions with you, I would still be piddling around the thrift store.  This new level of productivity is madness, I tell you, madness!  

Not only does this post mark the second completed item, but I actually have 2 more on deck.  Can you guess which ones will be crossed off next?  

Ok before we begin, let's take a look out our muse: the vintage pull-down chart

Source: Mighty Vintage

Source: Mighty Vintage

Oh $400 Rose Cherry Botanical Chart  - why must you elude me so?  In all fairness, this is a particularly rare print which is why it's up-there in price.  But still, I can't be shelling out $200 a pop to feed my pull-down chart obsession!  So as I like to say: if you can't join 'em...

HACK em'

Keeping with the schoolhouse theme of the vintage educational charts,  I thought we could grade my findings on the following scale: printing, color quality, size options, and of course...cost.  First up: inverse engineer prints.

Printing: on paper at Staples

Color Quality: none


18"x 24"
24" x 36"
36" x 48"

Cost: $2-$8 engineer print + framing supplies


Since engineer prints are stuck being black and white, why not mix it up a little by printing one that's got a black background with a white design?

Teacher's Notes: This hack does not fulfill the "In Color" portion of the assignment.  But at least has some cool factor and the dark background is very on-trend with vintage charts.  Overall Rating: C+

Nothing to really take home and put on the fridge (based on this assignment) so moving on.


Printing: On poster paper at Staples     

Color Quality: High         


11.3” X 17.3”
18” x 24”
24” x 36” 

Cost: $20-$36 for printing + shipping + framing supplies 

I uploaded this Free Lavender Botanical Printable from the Graphics Fairy to Staples online print site and found that ordering a poster takes you through this fun little preview tool.

Teacher's Notes: You’ll want to find a high-quality graphic that works with the limited dimension options because (as I've found) cutting the poster paper curls the edges.  Overall Rating:  B

Chartify 2.png

Printing: None required 

Color Quality: High

Sizes: Various     

Cost: Varies with poster size + shipping +  framing supplies


Buy a poster to chartify like Chris Loves Julia did in their Greta's Butterflies Post.  They get extra credit for the added card catalog label!  Nice touch you two.  Like their look? You can buy this Butterfly Specimen Chart for $24 at Urban Outfitters. They have a wide selection of posters that range from botanicals and quirky quotes to moon phases and maps.  You can easily stick to the vintage educational chart look or veer into more modern wall art piece. 

Teacher's Notes: Yes, there are endless poster possibilities for sale, but you're missing the image-customization factor because you're stuck with what you can get for market value.  Overall Rating:  B+

Printing: On paper at Staples

Color Quality: None


18” x 24”
24” x  36”
36” x 48”

Cost: $2-$8 engineer print + coloring supplies + framing supplies 

Source: Scout and Whistle

Source: Scout and Whistle

So I've been drooling over this Gem and Crystal Print from Scout and Whistle for a while now.  I just wish it was a better price for it's petite size.  So this got me thinking... couldn't you just make like 2nd grader and color in the lines or your own black-and-white engineer print?

I rendered my own mineral coloring page to show you. The facets make it so easy to color block your way to a kick a** chart.

Teacher's Notes: Although it's not a glamorous a solution, it could have really fun results!  Give it to the kids as a giant coloring page and get a one-of-a-kind art project!  Overall Rating: A- 

Printing: On vinyl at Staples

Color Quality: High


19.2” x 36”
30” x 48”
30” x 72”
30” x 96” 

Cost: $20-$67 printing + shipping + framing supplies 

Vintage charts are printed on more of a fabric material than paper anyways.  So the suppleness of vinyl is a natural step in the right direction.  In fact, the pull-down charts in my elementary school were made of vinyl so why not adapt a banner to our needs? 

Thank you Staples preview image, but we're not going for the display-table-at-an-expo look.  But retro-fitting the banner with the wooden framing strips looks lovely!


Teacher's Notes: Decent price for such large results.  Plus the material makes it actually feel like a pull down chart!  Overall Rating: A+

There you have it!  My personal winner is the vinyl banner route.  I actually scored a Staples printing sale and ordered my 19.2" x 30" for only $15.  Adding in the wood for my frame brought that total to about $24 - and it's so much more durable than the paper!  

If course after I handed in my findings I stumbled up on this on the Staples printing website:

Labeled 2.png

I haven't tried it yet, but I'll report back to you if I do.  And if you've done your own research for a colored pull-down hack and have a different take on these findings, please share with the class!