Cane furniture, a design trend that dates to ancient Egypt, is having a 21st-century moment. Here's how to bring it home in ways big and small.

By Lacey Howard Jessica Bennett and Jeni Wright
August 05, 2020
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Although it has historical roots, caning is one of our favorite home trends of the moment. Created using thin rattan strips, the multi-directional woven pattern brings natural texture and timeless style to all types of furnishings. To try this weaving technique yourself, you'll need to purchase strands of rattan called binding cane ($14, Amazon). For a shortcut, you can also find rolls of pre-woven cane webbing ($9, Micheals) online and at fabric stores. Once you have your supplies, check out these clever DIY caning projects to create your own furniture and decor using the woven treatment.

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DIY Cane Headboard

Three panels team up to create a cane headboard for a full-size bed (you can scale up the size of each panel for a larger bed). When you weave your own panels, you have total artistic control over the pattern and size of the weave. For instant gratification, shop for pre-woven caning material. To complete the look, we added a floating shelf above the headboard and outfitted it with plants.

To make this DIY headboard, build three open frames from poplar boards to span the width of a full-size bed. Staple one end of a binder cane strand to the short side of one frame on the back. Begin wrapping the cane around the frame, keeping wrapped strands close together. At the end of the first strand, staple it to the frame and start the next length. Continue wrapping until there are 100 strands wrapped and stapled to the back of the frame.

Turn the frame 90 degrees and, starting in one corner, staple a strand in place on the back of the long side of the frame. Staple nine more strands next to each other until you have 10 secured to the frame. Weave the group of 10 over and under every 10 perpendicular strands until you get to the other end of the frame; staple. Secure the next 10 strands and weave them opposite the first group. Continue weaving in this fashion until you have woven the entire frame. Repeat these steps for the remaining frames. Secure the three frames together by bracing them with two boards in the back, then hang the headboard on the wall behind the bed.

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Cane Wall Panels

Cane webbing comes in all kinds of weaves and designs with round or square openings up to an inch across. Choose a few of your favorite designs to put on display in a paneled wall treatment. We used 1×4 boards to create a grid pattern on a wall. Cut 1/4-inch-thick sheet stock, such as plywood, to fit inside the rectangles (ours are 15×16 inches). Paint the sheet stock to match the wall (or, for drama, paint a contrasting hue). Using scissors or a straightedge and a carpet knife, cut the caning material to the size of each rectangle. Use contact cement ($7, The Home Depot) to adhere caning to the wood panel. Insert each in the grid in the desired location. We used both open and closed webbing to create a visual ode to the beauty of woven natural materials.

Editor's Tip: If your cane-covered panels don't fit snugly in their assigned opening, use 3M command hanging strips ($6, The Home Depot) to secure the panels. They allow you to change up the placement without marring the wall.

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Cane Side Table

A touch of caning never looked so good on this pretty little side table. Purchase a side table with open sides or build one yourself. We kept it simple, building a frame and stapling the caning material onto the frame once built.

Before assembling the table base, cut caning material slightly smaller than the frames' outer measurements. Staple caning material to the frame. Line up the caned frame with one attached to the tabletop, sandwiching the caning material between the frames. When lined up, pin nail the two frames together. Repeat for the other pair of frames.

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Cane Wall Art

Display cane material scraps as DIY wall art. To create a similar installation, cut Baltic birch into 12-inch squares and sand. Tape the edges and spray-paint (or brush on primer and latex paint) the front of the board in your desired background color. Let dry, then remove tape. Spray-paint steel spacers to match washers and screws (ours are a gold tone). Cut .093-inch plexiglass ($16, The Home Depot) to 12-inch squares and drill a hole in each corner about 1/2 inch from the edges. Lay the plexiglass squares over the wood squares and mark the hole locations on the wood. Drill a pilot hole at each location.

Secure art to wood with E6000 ($3, Amazon) or a similar glue at the corners (the material will have some movement; don't expect it to lay flat). Set a spacer on the wood at each hole, lay the plexiglass over the spacers, set finishing washers on the plexiglass holes, and feed a screw through the plexiglass, spacer, and into the pilot hole, and tighten. Attach a sawtooth picture hanger centered on the back of the wood square at least 1/2 inch from the top edge; hang.

Editor's Tip: Keep your cane designs 11 inches square or smaller to leave room for the hardware. Use various caning remnants, leather scraps, wood beads, embroidery floss, and more to create your designs.

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Cane Love Seat

Construct a simple wood love seat, then fill the back and side frames with cane webbing. To cover frames with caning material, cut material about 6 inches longer and 6 inches wider than each frame using scissors or a straightedge and utility knife. Working from the center out, staple the caning material around the outside of frames so the staples will be hidden when they are inserted in the openings on the love seat. Trim excess material. Once caning is secured on frames, insert each frame into its matching opening in the love seat with caning facing the inside of the love seat. Pin nail each frame in place, keeping them flush with the inside edges.

Editor's Tip: Soak the caning material in water and staple in place while wet. It will shrink as it dries for a tight fit. When stapling, work from the center out and alternate sides. Be sure the material is straight before you staple; you will be tugging to keep it taut.

After you build the love seat, raise its comfort quotient by sewing a cushion. Cut 3-inch-thick upholstery foam to 49×30-3/4 inches. Sew a simple cover with your desired fabric, leaving an opening to feed the foam inside. Whipstitch the opening closed. Add throw pillows for support, comfort, and style.

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Caned Glass Bottles

Vintage and modern glass bottles of all shapes and sizes are united as a collection when wrapped with lengths of cane webbing and strands. Utilize leftovers from larger projects to wrap a variety of bottles with natural texture. Create a sleeve by gluing caning material to itself on the back of the bottle.

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Decorative Wrapped Rocks

Use leftover caning scraps and strands to wrap rocks; this is a perfect project to do with young DIYers. Hot-glue ends on the back of the rock and glue on a circle of felt to cover. A circle of felt glued to the back of the rock protects the surface where the rock sits.

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