Cane Side Chair, Hers and Mine

By Kate Riley September 29, 2010

Continuing the Fantastic Feature series, today I’m here to show off a fabulous before and after starring the inventive Brooke of Oh Brooke blog.  You savvy readers have seen your share of these kinds of chair makeovers, but Brooke’s is exceptionally good due to her fabric and finish choice, and excellent tutorial!

Here’s Brooke’s Before:


And After:

  brooke after


And she reupholstered not one, but two of them!  You can see them both here.

I love the traditional style of a cane back or cane side chair ~ I even revamped this pretty one last year.  I have a soft spot for thrift store chairs with great lines, so I picked up this little number eons ago, and I’ve been meaning to reupholster it for months.

Here is mine.

chair before duo

It’s been collecting dust in my garage, but thanks to Brooke’s inspiration, I spent yesterday pulling out the worn fabric and upholstery staples, and taking it down to its bare frame.

chair bare

Now the real question is, what should I do with it ?

The chair is going to sit in a neutral corner outside our master bedroom.  The hub has requested a place to sit and remove shoes at day’s end, so it will just be a catchall chair destined for a corner niche, but I’d love to give it some style.  Anything’s possible with this makeover.


Should I leave the dark wood intact, and recover it in a cream velvet or natural linen?

Perhaps I should paint it a pale gray or soft green or antique white, maybe give it a little distressing?

gray or white cane


Should I go for glam, and give it some gilt or silver leaf, like these beauties?

gilt or silver leaf nottooshabby


Decisions decisions.

What do you think?  Any finish you’d like me to tackle just for fun?  What sort of fabric do you see ?   I welcome your input!

Whatever I choose, I’ll surely be guided by Brooke’s great tutorial ~ pop on over to see her step by step and congratulate her on a job well done.  Bravo Brooke!

swirl snip

Do you have a super fab rehab you’d like to showcase?   Send your submission to [email protected] !

Bottom Images: Laurel Crown; Apartment Therapy; Not Too Shabby x 2




  1. Ooooh, I love the idea of the linen and dark wood. Or linen and painted wood that has a beautiful glaze on it. Whatever you do, I know that it will be gorgeous! Thanks for all the inspiration you give me through your blog.

  2. Thanks for sharing the tutorial! I scored a set of cane side chairs at a rummage sale ($10 each!) and have considered painting them. The fabric is origional, and is not a completely unfortunate color like the ones you’ve pictured. It’s nice to know what my options are though!


  3. I like the idea of gray, but you could pick up on a color in the fabric…I’d pick the fabric first and then decide the frame. What a fun project! I have a chair that has been waiting in the garage forever, but at least I’ve already removed all the staples. Isn’t that part amazing…like, why is there the need for a zillion staples on ONE chair!?! Janell

  4. Ok, this is TOO weird. I was just about to post a picture on my blog TODAY of an orange and cane chair that is the same exact colors as the top chair, but more of the shape of your chair. I was hoping to work on mine this weekend- we can have a reupholster-a-chair-a-long!

  5. I’m always a fan of natural wood but that chair seems to be sreaming for maybe some white or greyish tones. It has a beautiful frame :-)

  6. I love the chair – it’s got great shape and great detail! I think it’d be nice in an antique white with a neutral fabric or a natural linen.

  7. I say paint it gray, using a velvet, burlap instead of linen or even a raw or dupioni silk. I’m sure whatever you do it will be fabulous

  8. My 2 cents: since it will be for hubby and it’s likely to get daily use, go with a darker, durable material like a rich gray velvet and white paint for contrast. Toss a fab pillow on it and call it a day! BTW did anyone see the latest Country Living “Living Large” article? Deep gray walls, antique french furniture and pops of pink…to die for! Can’t wait to see your After pic on this one!

  9. I LOVVVVVE that silver! I think that would be beautiful. I see these chairs all over the place in the thrift stores, my husband is just going to LOVE me packing those home now!

  10. Love the chair! I definitely would not go for the glam look. I like the idea of the gray, depending on the fabric you pick. The natural is also nice with a soft color fabric. What a fun project.

  11. I think the dark wood is beautiful and you shouldn’t ruin it with paint if it’s in good condition – you can always paint later if you don’t like it. The white linen might be soiled easily, though, if your husband is using the chair to take off his shoes. Can’t wait to see the revamped chair!

  12. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been re-inspired to do my cane back dining room chairs now, and what’s really funny is that mine are the same heinous orange velvet as Brooke’s. I love the idea of the dark wood frame with a light fabric. (ps so nice to meet you at the HGTV lunch!)

  13. I love the warm deep color it currently is, and I’d definitely go for some rich creamy fabric! I can’t wait to see what you do!

  14. Paint it antique white with light gray velvet fabric. Simple, beautiful, and elegant…just like you. ~Cheers~

  15. Nice feature!! After you cleaned it up, I really like the wood tones you have. I love the painted look too though. I am no help. I should just stop typing now, but I can’t. I know whatever you do, it will be “centsational.” ;)

  16. Very nice, and the lines of the chair are just gorgeous. Honestly, if it were me and it was a chair that would see a lot of use (sounds like it might), I’d go for the linen. I love the look of the gray and of the gilt. Wonder if you could just use a bit of the gilt in places, like it’s worn? Hah, no matter what it’ll be lovely, I’m sure!

  17. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. There are so many good possibilities. Thanks for this post. It reminded me I have a similar chair that I really should do something with. Perfect timing!


  18. I love the linen ones… especially the last two photos! Normally I’m a fan of the dark wood, but for some reason I’m loving the way those chairs look where the wood and the fabric are nearly the same color. Looking forward to see what you come up with!

  19. Hi there:
    First comment here I think.
    I really like your projects – amazing to see all of the before and afters.
    My thoughts: since hubby requested … make the chairs a tribute to him, a little chair nook with a hint of masculinity. perhaps keep the colours a bit darker and masculine rather than painting white? Fabric colour – dark, rich grey in fabric, velvet to give it a bit of depth?
    I found this picture of a neat one, kind of plain, but very chic, especially with accent pillow or throw ..
    hope you like.
    Good Luck.

  20. Love the structure to the chair – I’d paint it dark grey and cover it in a shabby cream long haired sheep skin (might make it more manly. lol) – might even add a little silver leaf over the edges to tie in with the rest of the bedroom.

    I can’t wait to see what you decide! It will look fantastic whatever you do!

  21. I would try to remove the cane from the sides- just personal preference, don’t like cane chairs. has some great clearance fabrics- several burlap colors for $1.99/yd. I would choose my fabric first, then decide what color to paint the chair.

  22. LOVE that chair on the left – gold, with a linen-y upholstery – YUM. I have a similar-ish chair with honey colored wood and mustard velvet that is waiting to be spruced up :) Still undecided… but thinking glossy white with geometric print!

  23. Since your husband will be using the chair I’d either leave the wood as is or paint it a darker, more masculine color like medium gray with a silver sheen and a pinstriped fabric

  24. In your home, from what I’ve seen, I would bet on white – of some sort….When I saw it completely bare; I immediately fell in love!!!! I saw white wood (or creamy white rather) with a very plush, rich fabric – in other words; NO KIDS ALLOWED fabric. You know the sort; silky or velvety. It deserves an expensive; all be it clearanced; fabric.

  25. I can’t wait to see what you do with the chairs because I have two of the same exact chair!
    I think silver would be pretty.

  26. I also have a cane chair like the ones pictured above gathering dust in my garage. I’m so intimidated by it though (ive never done anything like recovering furniture). Thanks for the inspiration maybe this will get me going.

  27. Her chairs are great and I have no doubt that yours will be fabulous! Can’t wait to see the finished project.

  28. My Craigslist has 2 of those chairs right now and I’ve been debating about them…this may have swayed me!

  29. I think the Glitz and Glam would fun in the Silver Leaf. I have been wanting to try that for awhile but haven’t found the right chair. I like that linen fabric in the photo or even a damask would be pretty. Can’t wait to see what you do!

  30. I have a chair almost identical like yours and it is like pecan wood with almost same color fabric and screaming 1980’s but it’s special to me. A lady that I used to work for gave it to me before she moved to Florida. She has now passed away and it’s even more special to me. She was a lovely lady and such a caring person. I cleaned her house every Friday and sometimes drove her to Dr. appts. or other shopping trips. The more I see the French provencial furniture being painted white/off white makes me think about do that to her chair and get new fabric and seat cushion for it.

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