Recently it was my sister’s birthday and I was at a loss to know what to buy. More smellies for the bathroom? Another utensil for the kitchen? More things that she really didn’t need or want? Luckily she came up with the perfect solution – my time! My sister presented me with some very tired old rattan furniture, a pile of fabric pieces she had been hoarding for years, and some old cushions and pillows. She then challenged me to do something with them.
The rattan furniture, similar to the one in this picture, was in desperate need of a little love and care. It was basically sound, but had been kept in the garden and was now sad and discoloured and very sorry for itself.
I started the refurbishing process by washing it down thoroughly with warm soapy water – using a toothbrush to get right into those difficult places. Not only did this instantly have the effect of improving the colour, but it also had an added bonus of helping to re-tighten the rattan seats that had become a little loose over time. Cane chairs have an irritating tendency for the cane to stretch when used a lot; this can result in a sagging seat. When you wet the canes they seem to stretch even more, but don’t panic because as they dry they shrink and tighten up again and the seats look as good as new.
I then gave the furniture a quick sanding with a fine grade sand paper and then applied a coat of exterior varnish to bring out the colour of the cane. You can just use a clear varnish, but I chose a pine tint to add a little more warmth.
Finally I used the remnants of fabric to make simple cushions. I found a plain fabric in a coordinating colour to back all the cushions, which made the material go further and brought out the colours of the main fabric.
Result – my sister ended up with a present that she really wanted and will use and it didn’t cost me a penny, just my time.
Instructions for Renovating Rattan Furniture
You will need
- A Bucket of warm soapy water
- Toothbrush for getting into those awkward places
- Fine grade sandpaper
- Exterior varnish – tinted or clear
- Wash the item of furniture down. Be careful with rattan that you get right into those awkward spots or otherwise you could be left with a two tone chair.
- Allow to dry
- Go over the entire piece with a fine grade sandpaper
- Apply a coat of varnish to bring out the natural colour of the cane. A tinted varnish will give it extra warmth.
- Leave to dry thoroughly before using.