Cane Back Chair Makeover

Thrift stores are so hit and miss. Most are overpriced, but I still have the hardest time driving by without stopping. This time I stopped by and snagged these french chairs. So without further ado, here’s my cane back chairs makeover.

Get more furniture makeover ideas here! 

french cane back chairs before makeover
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Supplies Used for cane back chairs makeover

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Removing Old Fabric From Chairs

The worst part of all is the first step; removing all of the fabric and trim with pliers and a flathead screwdriver. Man, that stuff is always stuck on so hard!

removing fabric from the french chairs

Prep and Paint Wood and Cane

Then I prepped the wood for a new paint job by lightly sanding and wiping everything clean. Learn all about how to prepare furniture for painting here and how to clean furniture before painting here.

I gave both chairs a new crisp white finish with heavy distressing and a few coats of poly for extra durability. Check out this post for more info on painting furniture white.

Reupholstering Chairs with Blue Fabric

I used the old fabric (adding a couple of inches to the edge of each piece) to figure out how many yards of fabric I needed for the chairs. I decided on some navy linen fabric from Joann and grabbed a roll of batting.

This time around I finally got smart and purchased this pneumatic staple gun instead of using my old manual staple gun. So. Much. Better!

This one takes regular old T50 staples, just like my old manual staple gun. If you’re thinking about reupholstering, you NEED to get a pneumatic staple gun. This one was cheap and it works great!

I just plugged it into our small air compressor and went to work! I used the old fabric as a template to cut out my new fabric and batting.

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For the seat, I started by stapling on the batting in a few spots and then cut off the excess with sharp scissors. Then I stapled on the new pretty fabric, making sure everything was tight and in line. 

Covering Cane with Blue Fabric

But since the cane didn’t have fabric over it before, I just measured the size of the cane, added 4 inches, and cut out a rectangle for each side of the cane.

For the cane back I kept the cane for the extra support it gives and followed the same process for both the back side and the front.

If you like the cane webbing look, check out how to install cane webbing to a door for your furniture here.

First batting, then the fabric. I stapled them on just outside of the border of the cane so it would have wood to attach to, but I stayed as close to the cane as possible.

I didn’t want to cover the whole back of the chair. Once all the fabric was stapled on I used sharp scissors to cut the excess away, making sure to cut as close to the staples as possible.

For the trim I used 3/16″ cable cord and 2.5″ strips of fabric to make double welting. Vidya at What’s Ur Home Story has a great tutorial explaining how to make a double welting.

Then I just used glue to attach the trim onto the edges of the fabric to cover up the staples and ugly edges.

white painted chairs with blue upholstery
white painted french chairs with navy blue linen upholstery

More Before And After Makeovers

Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.

closeup of cane back chair covered with navy blue fabric and double welting

I couldn’t be happier with how these chairs turned out! They look super expensive and are just what I wanted in the space! Wahoo!!

Check out more Shabby Chic Painted Furniture ideas for your next project here.

Cane Back Chair Makeover

white painted french wood chair makeover

Check out this cane back chairs makeover for the perfect way to update and repair your furniture.


  1. Remove the old fabric from the chairs and trim with pliers and a flat head screwdriver.
  2. Prep the wood for paint by lightly scuff sanding and cleaning.
  3. Apply a few coats of paint onto the chairs, distress, and seal with some poly.
  4. Use the old fabric to measure how much new fabric you need.
  5. Start stapling the batting and then the fabric to the seat making sure everything was tight and in line.
  6. To cover the cane with fabric as well, measure out fabric for both sides of the cane back, add 4 inches, and cut out a rectangle for each side of the cane.
  7. Staple the batting, then the fabric to the wood staying as close to the cane as possible. Once all the fabric is stapled on use sharp scissors to cut the excess away, making sure to cut as close to the staples as possible.
  8. Make double welting for the trim then glue it onto the edges of the fabric to cover up the staples and ugly edges.

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  1. So beautiful!!! I'm glad I'm your help line! You are amazing….great job!

  2. Oh thanks! You also taught me how to reupholster, soo you're more than just a help line. Haha

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