Friday, March 26, 2010

Cane, Wicker, Rattan and Bamboo…

 Give your weathered wicker, cane and rattan furniture an instant update with a quick lick of paint to create a relaxed outdoor setting that evokes the style of steamy colonial plantations.

Cane and rattan furniture is much easier to source second-hand thanks to its popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It is also generally inexpensive, reassuringly sturdy and crying out for a makeover.

Colour is the quickest, and prettiest, way to gussy up furniture, and spray-paint is the best way to achieve a smooth, even finish on bamboo, cane and rattan. Soft tones can be difficult to find – most manufacturers seem to lean towards a garish palette – but there are some lovely shades available. White is always a winner, especially for outdoor pieces, and soft, muted greys, blues and greens are perfect for updating bent cane and bamboo.

Add some fat cushions in muted shades, opting for classic stripes for a ‘summer in the Hamptons’ look, or botanical prints to carry though a plantation theme. Black, charcoal grey and deep reds are modern and dramatic and bright shades of lilac, orange and green give a fresh air to modern wicker.

What you will need
  • Cleaning product such as a sugar-soap solution and sponge;
  • Soft brush;
  • Vacuum;
  • Acrylic / undercoat primer;
  • Spray-paint;
  • Drop-sheet
How to paint wicker, cane, rattan and bamboo
  1. Before you start, clean the piece thoroughly, second-hand buys especially. Brush briskly all over with a soft brush – one from a dustpan set works well – then vacuum (using the brush attachment) to remove loose dirt and grime from hard-to-reach places. Wipe the whole piece down with a sugar-soap solution and then leave to dry completely.
  2. Apply a layer of undercoat or acrylic primer. This helps create an even surface and reduces the amount of spray-paint required for each piece. You can buy spray-on primers, but a standard acrylic primer applied with a soft brush will work just as well.
  3. Once the primer is completely dry, begin to apply the spray-paint. You will need to work in a very well-ventilated space or, preferably, outside in a protected area that’s not too windy. Spread drop sheets over the whole area and place the piece in the centre of the sheets. Apply the first coat of spray-paint in a gentle, sweeping motion. To achieve an even finish, it’s best to apply several light coats to prevent drips forming. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the length of time to leave between coats as it differs by brand. 
  4. Once you’ve achieved an even finish over the whole piece, leave to dry overnight and then check the entire surface for any missed areas or uneven patches.
White easychair
Reminiscent of long, lazy afternoons, the laid-back easy chair (main image) was an absolute bargain, snapped up at a household auction for $30. Slightly battered, with a couple of discoloured patches, its dusty appearance disguised a classic chair in sturdy condition. All it took to restore the chair was a good clean and a coat of primer, followed by two coats of white satin enamel spray-paint. Accessorise with a couple of pretty cushions in neutral tones for an ideal outdoor armchair.

Tip. If you’d like to experiment with finishes and surfaces, interchangeable aerosol nozzles are available, which allow you produce thin, fine lines or cover large surfaces quickly.

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