DIY: Vintage Classroom Posters

June 11, 2014

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Remember the boys’ bedroom? To encourage Oscar’s love of marine biology, I hung posters of shark diagrams and catalogues. But instead of framing them, I turned them into old-school classroom-style, pull-down posters. I was so pleased with how they turned out, I promised to whip up a tutorial, and (hooray!) it’s ready to go.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

There are a few reasons why I’m so pleased with this solution. 1) It’s inexpensive — far cheaper than framing a poster. 2) It’s easy to do and not-intimidating. 3) It looks great — and adds some fun texture to a wall. 4) It’s an appropriate solution for an inexpensive poster or a temporary hobby/interest.

With kids, sometimes their interests change from month to month. In June they love the Olympics, and in July they love antique cars. As parents, you want to encourage their interests, and hang up the latest poster they bring home, but it can be hard to invest in expensive artwork or frames, knowing that their interests will likely change sooner than later.

So for me, this is an ideal solution. It makes the poster look great on the wall, but isn’t a big investment of time or money. If Oscar’s passion for marine biology continues, the posters will continue to look good, but if he decides he’s into something else, it won’t feel like a big sacrifice to say goodbye to the shark posters. Does that make sense? : )

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

I think vintage-style posters work best for this project, because we’re going for a look that is similar to the old pull-down posters used in classrooms. Those posters are what inspired this project in the first place. Anything that has diagrams or notes, or looks like it could appear in a textbook, would work for this. Botanical prints. Biology drawings. Old maps. Stuff like that.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

And the how-to process is as simple as can be. Once it is put together, it can go on the wall immediately. No waiting.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

Ready to get started?

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom


- vintage-style poster
- roll of craft paper — I used a blue wrapping paper that was craft on the backside.
- dowel, 5/8″ diameter, cut down to the width of the poster plus 4 to 6″
- paper tape or cloth tape
- tiny brass eye screws
- twine

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

Using the paper/cloth tape, attach the craft paper to the top of the poster. Use a strip of tape all the way across on both the front and back side. If you use paper tape, you have to wet the backside for the stickiness to become activated. You’ll want a wet sponge nearby to wipe across the tape. Get it nice and wet. Trim off the extra tape so that it’s the exact same width as the poster.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

Next, cut another piece of tape, again, the same width as the poster. Use this piece of tape to attach the dowel to the craft paper. Put about half the tape on the poster and wrap the remaining half around the dowel — the tape won’t make it all the way around the dowel. The dowel is wider than the poster, so center is on the poster and let a few inches remain on each side.

Now, use the taped dowel to start rolling up the craft paper tightly around it. Roll toward the back of the poster. Stop rolling when you have 6 or 8″ of craft paper still showing.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

Attach the second dowel using another strip of paper tape. Cut a strip of tape the same width as the poster. Lay half the thickness of the tape across the bottom of the poster and wrap the remaining overhanging portion around the dowel, again centering the dowel, with 2 or 3″ on each side.

To complete, screw a small brass eye screw on each side of the top dowel. I poked the dowel with a pushpin where I wanted each screw, then used my fingers to get the screw started, and  pliers to finish screwing it in.

Last, take a length of twine and knot the ends on each screw.

Like I said: so easy! Much less cost than a frame and looks great hanging on the wall. If you transform some posters at your house, be sure to let me know how it goes!

P.S. — Like to make things? Here are some fantastic projects.

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{ 2 trackbacks }

Vintage Posters with Design Mom - this heart of mine
June 28, 2014 at 6:00 am
5 Cool DiY for Kids’ Rooms | Petit&Small
July 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nina June 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Great idea! My son is currently into butterflies, but last month it was rockets. It’s always changing! What a smart way to encourage their interests and continuously allow their room to look nice and neat.


2 Ann June 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm

I always love these when I see them! What a great way to hang them. I love your ideas! Did you post where you found your army issue beds for the boys? I meant to ask you!


3 Alisha June 11, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Bed link here.


4 Design Mom June 12, 2014 at 10:41 am

Thanks for the help, Alisha! So good of you.


5 Erin June 11, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Where did you purchase the adorable posters?


6 Design Mom June 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

The marine posters in the boys’ bedroom and the botanical posters in this post are all from


7 Andrea June 16, 2014 at 12:17 am

I have been searching on the site and cannot seem to find these prints. They would be perfect for my Montessori classroom. Could you please share a link? Thank you so much, this tutorial is wonderful!


8 Katie Harding June 12, 2014 at 7:24 am

I haven’t seen these before but I LOVE them! I am just getting started on a nursery for my third boy and am looking for some original wall hangings and these are perfect! Thanks for sharing!


9 Rachel June 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Thanks for the tutorial! I was waiting for it so that I could hang up some maps in my son’s travel-themed nursery. I found other tutorials online, but none of them worked because there isn’t a big enough border around the maps. This solves my problem by essentially extending the border.

P.S. For anyone wondering about sources for vintage posters, Paper-Source has cheap maps (sold as wrapping paper). Also, Ernst Haeckel’s drawings of marine life, botanicals, etc. would be great for this. There are scans from Kunstformen der Natur (a beautiful book–I recommend seeing it in person if you ever have the opportunity) available on Wikipedia, which you could send out to print:


10 gloria rickman July 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Oh my…..I was just trying to figure out how to do something similar….ran into this on pinterest and it is better than what I thought I could do! Thank you so much.


11 Marlene @ Jade and Fern July 6, 2014 at 7:22 am

These are fantastic! I scribbled a note in my idea book a few weeks ago for a “mini school chart” — this is infinitely better than anything I could have come up with. Love it!


12 Cass October 21, 2014 at 12:31 pm

This is exactly what I needed- great idea! I just bought some posters for my kids to play school with but I wasn’t sure how to have them hanging. Voila!


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