This is the story of 2 rush cane chairs that needed a little makeover.

Not an overhaul and nothing to destroy the original cane seats.  Just a little cut and color.

I have these rush cane chairs that have been sitting around taking up space – useful chairs but not being used (also pretty with interesting historical design significance).  I got a great deal on 6 of them thinking I’d be able to use them for some project at some point.  I do that sometimes because I have a severe case of can’t-pass-up-a-great-deal-itis.  And even though I do not carry inventory, some things just can’t stay in the store (or resale shop or consignment shop or flea market or estate sale or….).  These were one of those many items.

Anyway, they were sitting in random places around my home waiting for a good use until I decided to take 2 for my kitchen table.  Now if you’ve read anything on this blog you know that my first rule of decorating is to not use full sets of anything.  So you should know that my 6 seater kitchen table has 4 chairs that match each other (but not the table itself) and now 2 of these cane chairs on the ends.  But to get them to coordinate and look like they were actually invited to the party, they needed a little makeover.  Nothing major, just a little cut and color (clearly I had a little trouble deciding on color – I had 4 different options laid out and finally let someone else decide)!

 How to Makeover a Rush Cane Chair – The Process in Pictures:

I will spare you the tutorial since there’s so many of those to be found.  But I will tell you a few things that I personally have learned over the years, some the hard way, that may be different from some of the tutorials you’ve seen before.

  1. Removing the seat is much easier than trying to tape it off.  Plus it’s a chance to use the drill.  Overkill? Yah well a screwdriver works fine too.
  2. Sanding – while it is true that you MUST do it, it does NOT have to be as labor intensive as you may think.  I do a 3 step sanding process that takes about 5 minutes of “active” work, 20 minutes passive.  My success trick – use a lint free microfiber cloth.
    1. use a liquid sander/deglosser to wipe down the entire piece, wait 10 minutes per manufacturer recommendation
    2. use my mouse – cutesy powerful little sander – to sand very lightly (just enough to dull the finish, not get down to bare wood)
    3. use the  liquid sander/deglosser to wipe down the entire piece again and clean all the sanding particles in the process – this is just so I don’t have to keep doing that whole tack cloth thing that makes projects like this SO not fun.
  3. Painting – not to offend, but honestly I wouldn’t even attempt to use a brush (foam or bristle) on a project like this. Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2X gets into the crevices so much easier without all the drips and without all that extra sanding in between coats from using a brush.  The success trick here is the same as you always hear/read – 2-3 light coats in long even strokes.  Kinda like a mani – don’t try to get full color and coverage in 1 coat.

A project like this is certainly not specific to cane chairs; it can be applied to any basic dining chair that would only have an upholstered seat.  The difference is that the cane seat will require a little more tlc, mainly when stapling the fabric – be sure to staple only along the wooden frame of the seat.  Upholstering the seat in this way give you loads of decorating options.

Secret confession –  since the person choosing the fabric wanted no pattern or color, I actually used my trusty Home Depot canvas drop cloth and a random linen napkin I had stashed away to cover the seats on these 2.  And since mine are going in the kitchen, these durable linens work wonderfully!  I mean who but Mommy Dearest herself would cover kitchen chairs with expensive textiles and expect them to stay pristine with 4 kids around?

One last advantage – doing this can also help preserve the original seating material and prevent all sorts of nastiness (i.e. dust, food, liquid that can lead to mildew) from being embedded into the weave (unless you’re crazy anal like me and vacuum every single thing seen and unseen on the regular) .  Win, win, and WIN!



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