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French Cane Chairs


I’ve had my eye on a certain style of chair for a while.  Oval backed, caned French chairs.  If they’re affordable, they’re rickety or the cane is punched through.  If they’re perfect, they’re too expensive.  So, I decided to save up and sell my dining set in order to be able to buy four of these chairs from Restoration Hardware

I loved the bed I bought there, so I felt like it was worth the splurge.  I’ve been watching those chairs for weeks, hoping they would go on deep discount.  Well, it hasn’t happened yet.  I was ready to pull the trigger one day despite that, but I just couldn’t do it.  So, I did what any thrifty girl would do…I hit Craigslist.  I’ve been looking on Craigslist for months…maybe even years and never found the right ones.  Well, that day was my day!  I found four oval back, caned back, vintage French chairs  that were sturdy, had intact caning and at a price I could stomach.  $300 for four with delivery!  And I actually like these chairs better than the RH ones.  I wasn’t sure I liked their style of caning.

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The seats are actually caned as well, but an upholstered seat was added.

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Here’s the problem, they are painted maroon.  And I’m not about to take on stripping the paint off of four caned chairs.  I’m not quite that crazy.  So, I called around to get some quotes on having them professionally stripped and it’s a lot less than I expected.  I’m going to give up the DIY joy of stripping the paint from all of those nooks and crannies and let the pros handle this one.

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My plan is to see what the wood looks like when it’s stripped and either leave it as is or give it a whitewash.  I’m also going to recover the white leather seats in grain sack.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the end chairs, yet.  I have a few options, so I’ll make that decision once the four side chairs are done.

The saga of my ever-changing dining room continues…

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  1. You hit the jackpot! Your chairs are beautiful, even as is. Cane back chairs ae such a classic look.

  2. I never thought I was a big fan of cane back chairs but these are lovely, I like them better than RH also. What a find.

  3. Those are lovely! I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

  4. Those will be lovely! and I’m sure the price for stripping wasn’t terrible – I have an uncle who does that – dips them to get it all and it isn’t near as pricey as you would think!

  5. The chairs are going to be beautiful, and I’m glad you found some! But don’t let broken caning scare you–it’s not that hard to replace, and with your mad skills, you could do it easily!

  6. I love cane chairs, but I had to wait till my kids were grown because I knew the chairs would never survive. You are very brave!

    I know a lot of DIYers do their own caning. I did it once and I hated every minute of it.

    I cannot wait to see them with your choice of finish.

  7. Melissa Linnenburger says:

    I don’t care for the RH caning either. The ones you found are great! You have great furniture karma! Looking forward to seeing them Mustardized. :)

  8. Oh my goodness gracious..I love love LOVE this post!! You see, my husband inherited a dining room suit from his grandparents. Gorgeous table. The chairs: cane back. Original cane and still in perfect condition. I didn’t know that cane was considered GOOD!!! I have never liked the chairs until now :) I am looking at them with a new perspective, my lovely little chairs!
    I can’t wait to see how you finish yours, I am waaaaiting.

  9. When they are stripped, remember to dampen the cane every year so it doesn’t dry out. The water also helps to tighten the weaving. You can also wet down your baskets. Ann

  10. debbie says:

    Great score!!!!! I love cane back chairs and just about anything else with cane. Great decision to have them done professionally.

  11. So jealous. Always wanted some of those too. You got a great deal! I can’t wait to see them when you are finished with them.

  12. I noticed those earlier this week in your Lucketts photos! Craigslist rocks, as long as you are willing to be patient and stick with it. I’ve had the same problems you are, but now I can have a little more faith that perhaps someday, the dream that I wish….will. come. truuuuuue.

    I can’t wait to see what you do with them – I’m sure it will be gorgeous.

    PS – Marian I was checking the blog the other night when my 8 year old son walked by. He said that old stuff looked pretty cool and kind of like the stuff I’ve been working on. He gave me a funny look, so I explained to him how you’ve been my inspiration and unwitting mentor in the crazy-paint-lady-mommy phase I’ve been in. Then I showed him the shots of your house. He’s a convert! And get this. He wants to learn how to paint his own bed and bookcase, and redo his room in a vintage pop-arty Star Wars theme (which this geek just big puffy-heart loves). Can I get a happy dance?! LOL
    Thanks for being you.

  13. Love the chairs and stripping the chairs would definitely be a big job. I can’t wait to see how great they look when you put your finishing touches on them. I too have been looking for a set of these chairs for awhile now after seeing some shabby chic ones slipcovered. I finally found mine on, after looking at all of the other sites and craigslist. I did paint my new chairs and I am going to slipcover them, but they are sturdy, well built and have the style I was looking for. Have fun with your new projects. Now that your Luckett’s flea market is over, I look forward to seeing what new projects you have been doing and have yet to do. You are an inspiration to us all, yes we can do it!

  14. alice R. says:

    Those will be amazing! I’d love them, too. I really like the Restoration Hardware stuff as well, but it’s way too expensive and seems to never go on a good enough sale to be worth it. Your solution was perfect!

  15. Love those chairs Marian, I don’t blame you for not stripping them yourself. The idea of it makes me twitch LOL.

  16. teresa says:

    Beautiful chairs. I just hope the caning doesn’t come out during the stripping proces depending how they do it. If it’s the kind that’s glued in, it’s usually done with a water-based glue so if that’s the case make sure they’re careful. Great score! ctd

  17. Sheila says:

    These are the days of Annie Sloan-why bother with stripping? or at least paint one to see how it looks.

    • I want to be able to distress the pieces without the maroon showing through. Also the paint is chipping a lot (not in an attractive way), so I want it off in order to start with a clean slate.

  18. Great looking chairs!

    How funny that my “old new” dining set just got delivered the other day, and I will be tackling painting and staining (then seat upholstery) next week. I got mine at a local antique store. They are not as pretty as yours, but they would fit our little dining room perfectly, plus they cost me only $435 for a round table (with 2 leaves) and 6 chairs, delivery included. I’ll be using a lot of Miss Mustard Seed Linen paint on those chairs. 😉

  19. Angie says:

    I love your “new” chairs. I stalk Craigslist almost every day. The bad thing is I see things that I don’t need and want to buy anyways. My husband is on to me! I saw a Bernhardt sofa and chair that was leather except for the cushions. The cushions were down filled. $250! I don’t need a sofa and chair but wanted to buy them. (So sad!)
    PS-WHERE IS FURNITURE FEATURE FRIDAY??? My favorite Friday thing to look at!

  20. What a lovely shape they are. Can’t wait to see what they look like once you (and the pros) work their magic on them!

  21. Oh these chairs are wonderful! Cannot wait to see how they turn out :)

    xo, Tanya

  22. How about a good sanding & a rub ~ see what they look like then. You can always have them done professionally after that if not right Might look good super sanded…just a thought..

  23. They are going to look so beautiful when you give them your special touch! What a great find! Happy Memorial Day Weekend to you and your family! Hugs!

  24. Um. You know that to most of us, YOU are “the pros,” right?! haha

  25. now I love me some grainsack but I have to say, white leather is AMAZING and so easy to clean…maybe paint them your lovely new lavendar shade and leave the leather? just a thought! LOVE YOUR STUFF!

    • I agree! I also think the white leather would be a nice textural contrast to the grain sack that you already have in your house. :)

      As well, I agree with another poster to beware that dip-stripping often loosens glue joints. It’ll also lift the grain of the wood more than manual stripping, requiring at least a little sanding afterwards. You might want to have just one chair stripped first to see how it goes.

      Good luck! They’re gorgeous chairs!

  26. Wow! very nice! Lucky Find! Love them!
    Happy Friday!

  27. Linda says:

    Beautiful chairs! I have several items that will be very hard to strip but have always been afraid to have them dipped. Someone told me that it loosens all the joints and they will never be the same even after re-gluing. Do you have any worry about that?

  28. Carolyn Miller says:

    You find the best things!!! Really like them a lot! My sister in law had a chair very similar and the cane back was ripped. I got on line, watched “how to” video and ordered my supplies. Turned out very nice. Not as difficult as I thought it would be.

  29. Beautiful chairs Marian! I don’t blame you that would be allot of work to strip those!Can’t wait to see them refinished!

  30. Sally B says:

    I LOVE these. Most dining chairs really aren’t attractive, but these are beautiful-the shape of the back is so pretty and the legs are so cute! I’ve had the same dining set for about 20 years. My husband never wants to change anything and I am just the opposite. I am pretty sick of it now, and it turned out what I thought was a sturdy set wasn’t so much. I only have two of the original chairs. It’s one of the round oak tables with no leaves, so we can seat 6 at a very tight pinch. I want to go to a rectangular table and pretty chairs..sigh…you are so inspiring. I saw your bed and decided my many years with no headboard or frame were at an end and got a second hand store Collette bed (Crate and Barrel) with a similar soft look but no wood exposed frame for a fourth the original price and just love it;)

  31. kathy bailey says:

    Marian, these will be gorgeous.

  32. Laurie says:

    Nice pick! I’ve been there before. I had one caned chair stripped down and the other….off to the strippers. Had enough of that! I also like them better than RH.

    How do you find such great things on CL? My area must be lacking! I wonder how far my husband would travel for a CL item..hmmmm? Since we just picked up a CL item tonight that was 13.2 miles down the road my hunch is that was it!

    Can’t wait to see the end result!

  33. Marian, great fine and a Blessing from the Lord. What you saved will go towards fixing them up the way you would like them! As far as the Captain chairs on the end. You have turquoise on the legs of the table and the buffet; I would consider leaving them that color.

    Have fun, I will be looking for the pictures of the finished project. Thanks

  34. I gotta say…those chairs are so pretty! I love the RH ones too, but you’ll work wonders with these. :) They look great in your dining room! If you decide you don’t want to that table too, wanna send it my way? 😉 It’s lovely.


  35. How would you even begin to strip these??? I just cannot imagine the hours. Do you have a method yet for the RH finish?? I have read and searched and tried samples and never been able to recreate it…..

  36. so great when you finally find something you’ve been looking for! especially at a great price!

  37. Marian, what a score! Meant to be!

  38. Kathy says:

    Love the chairs! Can’t wait to see how they turn out. Isn’t that a new table? Did i miss a post? Impossible!

  39. Rhonda Lombas says:

    Love the chairs and can’t wait to see them finished. Also love the farmhouse table. If I would have gone to Lucketts you wouldn’t have had to drag it home :-). I see a new book in the works when you’re all done !!!

  40. Shannon Logan says:

    Your dining room is awesome, as well as the rest of your house. Where do you buy most of your grain sacks?

  41. Barbara Gantt says:

    I love the chairs… You are such a inspiration to anyone who follows you! I Simply must know the story of the cow picture in your dining room ..iT IS DiIVINE!!!!

  42. Where did you find the cow picture/painting?

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