Something Wicker this way comes (or, how to rejuvenate old cane furniture)


Jo is a green loving gal and aware of slowing down personal consumerism, so much so she went a whole year not buying anything new! This has resulted in some kick ass DIY projects, one of which is shared below which originally appeared on her blog



A year or so  ago we built this amazing deck, white washed wood, open smooth spaces that intersect perfectly with the lawn, and looking out to a fishpond… all in all an amazing outdoor space.

Pity about the furniture.

We had some hand me down sofas from my mum out on the deck but they were quite visually heavy and weren’t really outdoor appropriate.  We re homed them to a friend, who loves them and hopefully they’ll see 40 ( they’re already 26 years old!). We then tried some second hand Ikea furniture, but again, not really outdoor furniture and didn’t provide yours truly with the right support to lounge with a book.   Those too have found a ‘forever home’ with a friend ( and the longevity that comes with being inside).

So rather than standing awkwardly on the deck we’d looked at shops, on line, at second hand sales, everywhere really, to find a set we liked, and we ran up against two things. A) outdoor furniture is REALLY expensive or B) it is often poorly made so is both uncomfortable and won’t last long.

So we decided to make and or uprecycle a set.

What we had found for $75 was an old cane furniture set at the tip.  For an extra $50 we had it delivered home.  We’d been looking for a while, but we wanted a completed set, that we really liked and that was in  in fairly good condition so that we would get at least 5 years out of it. It did have to be painted as the original varnish had come off, and repainting would add years of life to it.


We found this set.  Which then sat on the deck for months untouched.  And – using a party as inspiration to get our act together- we finished it in four days.


This is what we did;

Divide and conquer works with DIY projects – The chef was assigned the job of painting the set and I was assigned the job of covering the cushions.

Lets start with painting;


  • A paint spray gun
  • Two liters of outdoor paint  ( we used the left over paint form our deck)
  • Drop sheets (lots)
  • A Wire brush


Brush the cane with a wire brush - this removes any loose varnish/dirt

Brush the cane with a wire brush – this removes any loose varnish/dirt


Buy, rent or borrow a paint spray gun

Buy, rent or borrow a paint spray gun


While the paint gun is empty use it to blow air across the furniture to remove any dust

While the paint gun is empty use it to blow air across the furniture to remove any dust


Once you’ve prepped the surface find a big space with good ventilation and  that you don’t mind if the ground gets painted.   Spread the drop sheets far and wide. Seriously – spray guns send paint everywhere…

Place the furniture upside down on the spread sheet.  Always start on the underneath of the furniture – this means you can figure out what you’re doing where no else can see it and that you get a better finish on the top.

Load up your paint gun using the instructions supplied with it, as they do vary machine to machine, then slowly and methodically spray the furniture.  We weren’t aiming for a super thick layer as our deck is white washed, but two layers looked like this.



Whilst he finished that- I worked away inside at cushions.  Back in the day, like 10 years ago, I was a more then competent sewer, but since then the most I have done is sew a button back on.

I figured square cushions was an easy place to start…. so


  • New outdoor foam for the seats X 4
  • A bundle of second hand thrown cushions (washed in 60 Celsius to make more hygienic)
  • 4-5 meters of matching marine fabric for the covers – We had grey for the sofa, bright blue for one chair and black for the second, plus some random colors for throw cushions)  
  • An overlocker
  • A sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • A measuring tape
  • And an un-picker if you’re as uncoordinated as me


To be honest – I was pretty ad hoc about the whole thing, I used the sewing machine manual to teach me out to install a zip and kind of went from there. I was sewing cubes so as long the seams were straight it seemed to work out ( with some unpicking….)

I could have made it easier for myself by measuring, but I had lost my measuring tape that week so was doing things like “Well that’s one and half tea towel lengths…” not a genius way to do it.

Anyway – with luck and an over-locker it worked out and we now have a great, individual out door furniture set for just under $400 (or $800 if you include the sewing machine and over-locker).

And I have some where to lounge.


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