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How to Refinish a Cane Armchair

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Antique cane chairs are making a comeback! The craftsmanship and detail are typically stunning features of this furniture that is hard to find in new pieces. Today I’m taking my caned chair that I’ve had for years and giving it a facelift for less than $10! Learn how to refinish a cane armchair in one afternoon with this easy tutorial.

Cane armchair before refinishing.

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Antique Cane Chairs

How to Refinish a Cane Armchair

Cane chairs have a special place in my heart. My grandpa used to cane his own chairs and did such beautiful work. I have a few of his pieces and love seeing that cane chairs are making a comeback in the design world!

Antique cane chair

I’ve had this antique cane chair for years. My grandpa didn’t cane this one, but I found it at a yard sale for less than $10 almost a decade ago.

I did very little work to it, and it has sat in my office forever half done with a partially painted cushion.

Cane armchair backing.

It has the most beautiful craftsmanship in both the wood frame and the caning. So I figured it was high time to bring this beauty into the 21st century with a quick update!

How to Refinish a Cane Armchair

My intentions with this project were to:

  • Turn it around in less than a day.
  • Retain the original caning.
  • Update the frame for a modern style.
  • Refinish the original cushion.

To start, I decided I wanted the frame to be contrasting to the caning. I painted it Blackboard by Magnolia Home. It is a great black that is slightly softer than jet black.

Supply List

Prepare The Chair

The first step is to wipe down the wood frame with a deglosser. I chose to use this product rather than sandpaper to ensure that I didn’t damage the cane.

Taped armchair.

Deglosser has quickly become my favorite tool for furniture DIYs! It is faster, less messy and just as effective as sand paper.

The second step is to tape off the caning to protect it. I’m pretty good at free-hand painting, so I only taped off the areas I thought the paint might drip or be difficult to get a brush into. You might feel more comfortable taping the entire caned area!

Paint the Chair

Next, it’s time to paint! I used this awesome square angled paint brush. It is small enough to get into all the tight spaces while being sturdy to brush on the paint thoroughly.

Painted antique armchair.

Can you see what a difference it will make to compare and contrast the wood v. black? It modernized this vintage cane chair so fast! Plus, I love that the details of the chair frame will pop since they will now contrast the cane.

I painted two coats onto the frame. You may need more or less depending on your coverage and the type of paint you use.

Tackle that Cushion

While my paint was drying, I tackled that ugly cushion! Years ago I used a fabric medium and latex paint to cover the stained beige velvet. Nowadays they make fabric paint that would be an awesome choice as well!

Since my original cushion was pretty far gone, I decided to simply recover it using affordable linen fabric and safety pins.

Newly refinished caned chair.

It is a simple way to update cushions for those of us who have zero sewing skills! If you’re more talented than I, a cleaner look would be to properly reupholster the cushion. However, I make do and still love the clean updated look using this method!

Refinished Vintage Cane Chair

Ta-da! Here she is in all her beauty! (Also, you can see more details about my home office here!)

Office space with a desk and armchair.

It looks so sophisticated now! I love how easy this caned armchair repair project was and it makes me regret not doing it sooner!

Cane chair details.

The details on the wood frame stand out so much more now that the frame contrasts the cane. The craftsmanship of this vintage chair is so beautiful!

New office chair.

I decided that I wanted to use it as my new office chair. However, my desk is an antique workbench and stood at 36″ tall. Since that is too tall to use this chair with, I cut 6″ off the legs of the desk and now they work so well together!

Office furniture.
Back of a vintage chair.

The combination of rich wood tones on the desk pairs so nicely with the more modernized armchair.

Completed chair refinishing.

Cane & Rattan Chairs

I love that rattan and cane armchairs are coming back into style now. Rather than going out and buying new, try your hand at refinishing a vintage or antique chair!

It is really very simple as long as the cane is in good shape!

Cane chair in a modern office.

You can find them on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Etsy or at flea markets and rummage sales!

Home office decor.

Or, if you love the look but aren’t a fan of DIY, here are some new cane armchairs you can purchase right now! Just be prepared, they won’t be under $10. 😉

Simply click the affiliate image to shop directly.


These are my top three finds for affordable cane chairs you can buy online!

Stay Connected

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today! I hope this post inspires you to look beyond a run down piece of furniture and gives you the push to breathe new life into it!

New office desk.
Wall of windows in an office.
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How to Refinish a Cane Armchair

11 Comments

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  2. Love this! I have a couple of canes chairs that someone spray painted & now the paint is coming off – do you have any recommendations for getting the paint totally off the cane without ruining it? I would prefer that part not painted, but don’t want to ruin them. Thanks!

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