Cane Furniture: BUY or DIY?

For the last couple of years, as the trend for all things 1970s takes hold, there has been masses of cane and rattan furniture in the shops. By which I mean that slightly chunky woven stuff that, after a while, comes unwoven and leaves bits of stick hanging out that snags your clothing. It’s a very garden furniture, conservatory kind of look and while I like it in both those places it doesn’t really go in my house so I don’t have any. I think it can look out of place in a dark room in winter so it was a trend that I steered clear of. However…

red edition cane sofa 210
red edition cane sofa 210 try houseology for a selection of their range

The trend has now moved on a little (as all trends must do) and this season that classic woven cane, or rattan, has come to the fore. Now this is much easier. It’s a little more grown up, a little more elegant and, as you can see in these examples, when used within a wooden frame is much easier to use in all decor styles all year round. A cane for all seasons….? I’ll stop there, puns never were my strong point.

The point I will make though is that for every piece of cane furniture you buy, someone somewhere has hacked their own. So this post is a mix of buy or diy for those of you who like to get the tools out as opposed to the credit card.

Above, then, BUY, this sofa from French Company Redition or DIY this version designed by Nicki Bamford Bowes (latterly of Interior Design Masters) and made, to her specification, by TV builder Wayne Perry.

cane sofa by nicki bamford bowes built by Wayne Perry
cane sofa by nicki bamford bowes (@andthentheywentwild) built by Wayne Perrey

Now I’m not one for DIY myself but all of these clever people who have done it have included instructions either on their blog or instagram accounts so it this appeals you can have a go by following the links on the ones you like. Same goes for the ready made versions of course.

Below is a headboard you can BUY from La Redoute, which I styled for them at a recent press dinner.

cane headboard from la redoute styled by
cane headboard from la redoute styled by

Or, the very clever Chelsea, from the house that black built, added a cane headboard to the four poster in her spare bedroom if you fancy a DIY version.

cane headboard hack by thehousethatblackbuilt
cane headboard hack by @thehousethatblackbuilt

This post below was about the wallpaper rather than the bed but it was so pretty I had to include. It was also a custom made DIY bed. There’s one you can BUY with just a headboard from or this, which is rather lovely, from ebay (bear in mind this link may have expired by the time you get to it given the nature of this site) or another from La Redoute.

cane bed head via katrin mood
custom made cane bed head via @katrin_mood

And back to the DIY with the following three comprising a vanity unit, a chest of drawers and a cupboard from ikea. And here perhaps is the moment to explain difference between wicker, rattan and cane as all three seem to be used fairly indiscriminately and even if you know the correct terminology, you can be sure than many shops and sites don’t so you probably need to search under all three if you have set your heart on a particular item.

cane vanity unit by the house that black built
cane vanity unit by @thehousethatblackbuilt

So wicker is the method used to create the material. Cane and rattan are both the material used but cane is the thinner material that comes from peeling the skin off the rattan tree which also starts out as a tree and then bends over like a vine. Clear? So wicker is stuff that is woven but it doesn’t have to be rattan – it can be rush, straw, palm etc. As a general rule of thumb cane is most often used for the more delicate thinner pieces whereas rattan is often used for the woven pieces that are more reed like in their patterns.

ikea drawers cane hack by design at nineteen
ikea drawers cane hack by design at nineteen

Justin made this DIY cane chest of drawers from an ikea piece that he painted and swapped the drawer fronts for cane ones. If you go to his instagram account and look for ikea hack in the highlights you can see how he did it.

Below, Katy Orme, from Apartment Apothecary, also hacked an ikea cupboard to create her own DIY piece below. You can follow her method here. She chose the Aerial or Radio cane pattern of webbing rather than the more classic six weave. You can see all the types and buy your own here.

cane cupboard ikea diy hack by apartment apothecary
cane cupboard ikea diy hack by apartment apothecary

And, once again, for those who don’t DIY here is one you can BUY from Maisons du Monde,  although at £563 plus delivery you may decide it’s time to get handy. Or start looking round the vintage sites.

mango wood and cane chest of drawers from maison du monde
mango wood and cane chest of drawers from maison du monde

I found lots of lovely pieces when I stuck vintage cane furniture into google so have a browse of local charity furniture stores and antique and vintage sites and you might just find the readymade piece of your dreams with a bit of history as well. Lindsay Holland (@ropesofholland) found this chair and a matching sofa in her local British Heart Foundation shop in Colchester for £150. She had them both recovered in a cream linen fabric for £500 and now look at it. She told me yesterday that she saw a similar one in a shop in Ipswich for £30 so keep your eyes peeled people.

vintage chair found by lindsey holland of ropes of holland
vintage chair found by lindsey holland of @ropesofholland

So how do we feel about cane and rattan? Are we buy or diy? Let us know in the comments.


Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Deffo DIY on this one. About to transform my wardrobe doors, so keep your eyes peeled @neverordinaryhouse 🙂

  2. Oh I love that red edition one Kate. So sleek n sophisticated. Ditto Nicky Bamford Bowes Design. And I love the curvy lines of that Katrin Mood bed … softens the design.
    Nice to see modern looking designs in Cane furniture.

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