The 19th century was an exciting time in the classrooms of Europe. Suddenly, children who had never seen a pineapple or other foreign crops could gaze at illustrations of them on wall charts. Before long, these educational aids encompassed all manner of subjects; the teacher, pointer in hand, would tap the charts and explain how a cocoa bean became chocolate, the life cycle of an insect or the anatomy of homo sapiens.
Today, educational wall charts are prized by collectors and interior designers. Rendered obsolete in a digital age, these leftovers from bygone classrooms are highly coveted yet still relatively affordable. They are also a key part of the industrial, old schoolroom interiors look that sees institutional pieces such as blackboards, desks, laboratory apparatus and gym lockers making statements in our homes.
Invite the colours of autumn into your home using dark graphic wall charts that inspire the rest of your room.
Blend botanical charts together in a formal arrangement and use ornate gilt lighting for a more grown-up look.
Contrast scale and eras – place a modern mural next to a vintage wall chart. Retain space between them to keep the scheme contemporary and chic.
Gather together charts on a similar theme: fruit and vegetables, for example, are an ideal composition for the kitchen or dining room.
Using a vintage iron hook to attach a chart to the wall creates a more curated finish than merely hanging from a nail.
A collection of anatomical charts arranged on and against the walls looks sophisticated in black frames.
Enliven bare brick walls with a chalk paper chart that allows you to scribe thoughts and notes, as well as being an intriguing and decorative piece.
The full feature on decorating with vintage wall charts appeared in the October 2017 issue of Homes & Antiques. Back issues are still available. To purchase a copy click here.