Ryan and I always take an anniversary trip together, even if it’s just a quick overnight. On our trip last year to Santa Cruz, we were about to drive out of town and return home when I yelled, “Pull over!!!” Because on the sidewalk, somebody had tossed out these two rattan ottomans. They were beat up but had a ton of potential so I decided I’d learn how to fix broken rattan, and how to make DIY rattan ottoman pillows. And here we are!
The ottomans weren’t in horrible shape, but there was one section of the rattan that had snapped and bent out of shape, and a bunch of cane that was unraveling. So I started to research a bit.
How to Fix Broken Rattan
There are lots of schools of thought on how to fix broken rattan. There’s everything from stripping it, to steam, to actual fire! I knew right away I didn’t want to try to strip the lacquer — that’s a huge mess. Because they were junk finds, I didn’t want to invest too much time or money (or effort).
First I needed to bend the rattan that had snapped back into shape so that I could affix it together somehow. Turns out, just a little steam will do it. I used this steamer for about a minute on the sections that needed to be shaped back into place; I didn’t want to overdo it because steam will make the lacquer cloudy or gummy if you leave it on for too long.
But a minute was plenty. So just applying that wet heat made the rattan pliable enough to shape it the way I wanted it. Then once I had gently bent it, I used a clamp to clamp the pieces together. Then I left it to sit overnight to completely dry and cool in place.
The next day, it had reshaped perfectly. After a few tries at repairing the snap, we found that a simple staple on either side of the rattan held super well. We stapled it and I painted the staples to match the color of the finish. Note: the stapling method worked because this particular piece was not weight-bearing, but completely decorative in purpose. If your piece is weight-bearing, you’ll probably need to use a different fix.
To fix the unraveling cane, I used more steam. I applied a bit of steam, wound the cane back in place, clamped it, and left it overnight to cool.
The next day, I just used E-6000 to glue the cane in place, and re-clamped until it was dry.
How to Make DIY Velvet Pillows for a rattan ottoman
Initially I was planning on making round velvet cushions with piping but in the end I didn’t have enough fabric to make the piping so I had to pivot. I found this tutorial from A Beautiful Mess on creating round velvet pillows and it ended up working perfectly! I’ll let you head over there for the full tutorial; the only thing I did differently was that I added detail stitching on both the front and back of each pillow.
DIY Rattan ottomans
At the end of the day, I totally love how they turned out! And for a junk find, it was a really low-budget project. The only money spent was on fabric, and I ended up finding the velvet I needed on Etsy, for a total of about $18. Can’t beat that for two new furniture pieces! So what do you think — do you prefer the green velvet or the pink velvet? xoxo
- Start by cleaning your rattan to be free of any debris or dirt. Then, locate the areas that need fixing or reshaping. To start reshaping, apply steam to the rattan or cane in short doses, starting with 30 seconds to find out when it will start to bend and reshape.
- After applying steam, gently bend and reshape the rattan, being careful not to snap it. You may need to bend a little past the point where you'd like it to settle to shape it properly.
- Once the rattan is shaped to your liking, apply a clamp and allow the piece to fully dry, cool, and cure. I recommend leaving it overnight.
- To fix unraveling cane, use the same method of steaming and clamping.
- After the pieces are cool, unwrap the cane, apply a little adhesive, and reclamp. This may be enough to hold it. If not, add a hidden staple at the end of the cane.
- Add a staple to any snapped pieces as well.
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