A Map Chair DIY

So I finally had a chance (and the motivation) to work on this little side project I had in mind for awhile. I inherited these imitation Arne Jacobson Ant Chairs awhile back and wanted to do something fun with them. They were a little scratched up so I thought of painting patterns, doing a collage, or something else altogether. Then I thought it would be really fun to apply an antique map across the entire surface!

So I started shopping around and saw this nice old world map in blue on It was something a little different looking and I loved the colors together. It almost looks like a wood texture underneath the print which was a nice effect.

My motivation was to complete this chair in time for the Habitat Green Event held last month. I thought it would be a fun addition to my booth as a little before & after project and I only had 3 days to work on it!

So when the poster arrived I laid it out on the table to relax the curl from shipping.

Then I gathered my first round of supplies including: a brayer, Mod Podge, and brush

Now to be honest, I'd never used Mod Podge before, but it seemed like a simple yet strong adhesive to use. I watched a few YouTube videos on how to use it, then I felt ready to give it a try. First I began to gob it all over the surface of the chair and spread it around with a paint brush. Then I very carefully laid the map across the surface and rolled the brayer across the surface to get out any air bubbles.

As it turns out, while I was in the middle of this time sensitive part a very large UPS delivery came to our house and due to the sheer size and weight of it, the UPS delivery man came to the side door, knocked, and offered to bring it in. I was very appreciate of his kindness, and my guard-dog Lab absolutely loves the UPS man so he was going nuts, got a few treats, and wanted to go for a ride.

So... by the time I got back to the chair the Mod Podge was starting to adhere and I couldn't really adjust the map or roll out any other bubbles. In general I'm very happy with how it came out, but there is one section in the back where there is a complex curve and it didn't adhere perfectly.

So now that the map has been applied to the chair it was time to very carefully cut the map to the shape of the chair. I just used a simple xacto knife with a fresh blade and followed along the edge.

Then to clean up the cut edges a bit I carefully ran some sand paper across the seam which worked out really well. 

Now it was time to finish the surface. Many people use Mod Podge as a finished surface for decorative boxes etc. Since this was furniture and was going to get some wear I decided to go with a regular furniture finish of acrylic polyurethane. Below is some more information about the supplies:

  • Firstly, this Picasso brush is amazing! It really does a great job edging around trim and making clean lines. It was recommended to me by a local painter and now I recommend it to you!
  • As for the paint itself, just a pure white paint to touch up the back of the chair from scratches. It's a Behr product, low odor and zero VOC which I try to keep in mind when buying paints. I originally bought it for another project that needed some serious priming, so the self-priming was helpful for that.
  • The clear finish is Benjamin Moore Benwood, acrylic polyurethane. I chose a low lustre finish, and this too has low VOC which is great to work with. I find this finish brushes on nicely and hasn't yellowed on any of my other projects yet!

So I applied a few coats of the finish and waited for it to dry between coats. And here is the finished product, tada!

So what do you think? I got got a lot of great feedback from people and teachers at the Habitat Event saying it would be a great piece for a classroom. Does that spark an idea for you? Have you ever used Mod Podge before or do you like another type of glue? 


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