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Hector Project-er: So Shelfish

Just a quick post today, because I’m super busy putting the finishing touches on our porch project, but I seriously can’t believe how well my wicker shelves came out & I must show y’all!!!!

Here they are “before”:

Meh. Nothing great about them visually, although I do admit that I adore the way the shelves come out & the frame can then be folded down, all compact-like.

However, they were in need of some sprucing up if I was going to keep them on the porch & I definitely want to do that. The wicker ties in with our patio set. Besides, we need a place to store stuff like the small gardening/DIY tools we use for maintenance; books & mags, shoes… you know, porch stuff.

So I decided to use ingenuity & some leftover stain I had from another project (color = dark walnut) to breathe some new life into these sad looking shelves.

First, I trimmed off all the ratty old rattan wrapping. You might be surprised to know that rattan wrapping is almost always decorative & can be removed without altering the structural integrity of the piece. Just cut through it with a box cutter. Once you do that, peeling it off is easy, but keep the box cutter close so you can just close-trim problem areas & needle nose pliers nearby to help you reach/get a grip on stubborn strands.

Once I’d stripped off all the rattan wrapping — I won’t lie, it was labor-intensive & kind of a pain, but well, well worth the difference it made in the overall appearance of the piece — I laid out the pieces of the shelf on a big ole piece of cardboard on the lawn & just went to town with the stain.

That’s it. I just brushed it on & let it sink in. I did not wipe it off, as per manufacturer’s recommendations, because they’re not the boss of me! (Actually it just seemed like a pain with all the criss-crossy-ness going on. Plus, the the wood soaked up the stain before I even had a chance.)

No matter, because even as it was drying I could tell how great it was going to look…

I let the stain dry for 24 hours, then went back over it to touch up any patchy areas & retrieve any stray bits of rattan still hanging on there. I also used my trusty needle nose pliers/wire cutters to snip the heads off of a few finishing nails that had been holding the rattan in place. (In other words, now-non-essential nails.)

Tip: Stain splatters. And stain stains. Dress accordingly, wear rubber gloves, be gentle & don’t do it near anything you don’t want to ruin.

Anyhoo – the un-wiped stain sunk into the wicker more in some places than in others, especially settling in the cracks & crevices of the piece. This gave it a waaaay more sophisticated, finished look.

In other words, it went from looking like something I got at a yard sale to looking like something I got at Crate & Barrel. For the price of one can of stain… about $7.


Here’s how our porch storage area looks now:

We’ve got room for the big, red planter which houses gardening stuff & some small DIY hand-tool storage; books & other reading/writing/blogging materials; an on-deck supply area (currently holding some flowerpots I’m fixin’ ta paint) and even a little area for candles, flowers and other pretty stuff that keeps the shelves from looking too function-tastic.

So, there you have it! A quick, easy & cheap way to make your old wicker furniture look better than you ever thought it could.

Just don’t try this with painted wicker furniture. That would not work.

But fear not, I’ll be back oh-so-very-soon with a cheap, clever way to rejuvenate cruddy old painted wicker furniture, too! 🙂

Hope you like our new shelves as much as we do — Dan calls them our “Baracas” shelves. ‘Cause they’re B.A.



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