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Blank Canvas


I shared a few weeks ago that I found the perfect dining room chairs on Craig’s List.  They were vintage oval-back French caned chairs…just what I have been hunting for.  AND they were sturdy, which was important.  You know…so people could actually sit in them.  (I have been known to have chairs in my house that are just to look at and that’s a bad idea.  People do what you do with chairs and sit in them and I cringe, hoping the chair doesn’t flatten under them.)

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Anyway, the only bummer is that these perfect chairs had multiple coats of paint on them, the last one being maroon.  They were pretty gummed up with paint, so another coat of paint was not going to get these chairs where I wanted them to be, so I looked into having them stripped professionally.  I was surprised that it was not as expensive as I thought it would be – $55/chair.  Normally, I’m a DIYer all the way, but I’ve stripped enough furniture to know that it was worth paying someone else $55/chair to get the paint off of these things.

I picked them up yesterday and they look awesome…

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I almost like them as is…just a bit of hemp oil and they’ll be good, but the maroon paint stained the cane a bit, which I don’t like.  So, now they are a blank canvas and I need to decide what to do.  Stain?  Paint?  White wash?  Stain the cane, paint the frame?  Decisions, decisions…

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  1. Janice Careins says:

    I wonder if you set them in the sun for a few days if that would bleach the cane back to a
    natural look. I like them. Great find.

  2. carol jane says:

    I say whitewash would look lovely.

  3. Carol says:

    I think they are beautiful. Maybe stain the cane.

  4. Monica says:

    My heart gave a leap of excitement when I saw the intro to this post… I just picked up 3 caned dining chairs, and have been mulling over what to do with them. I was sure your post would tell me haha! I love how your chairs came out; I bet it’ll be easier for you to decide what to do now they have been de-gunked.

  5. Debbie says:

    I think white wash with stained caning would look FABULOUS! Good luck and cannot wait to see what you end up doing with them!

  6. Mary J says:

    I’m working on 6 dining chairs with cane panels. I couldn’t figure out how to have the wood one color and the can another when all four edges of the cane are backed by wood.(Look at the edges of the cane in your seat photo). How do you paint the wood one color and the cane another where the two materials overlap?
    It’s too late for my current chairs but might come in handy in the future. Thanks for any tips you might have.

  7. maggie says:

    I like the whitewash idea but I’m not sure about staining the cane when people will be sitting on it. ? I’m sure whatever you do with it will be beautiful.

  8. Teddee Grace says:

    What effect would your dark wax have on that cane?

  9. debbie says:

    I always love whitewash; however, the wood on these is so beautiful I could not paint them. I assume you asked the refinisher if he had any suggestions for the cane. I would think maybe a pecan stain or something similar would work. Can you take one of your chairs to a local hardware store for suggestions or if you could locate a master woodworker he or she should know. Good luck – gorgeous chairs.

  10. They are so pretty the way they are. Could you stain, bleach, or do something to the caning to make it gel?

  11. I like the white wash idea a lot.

  12. I say leave them and let the soft pink cane reign.
    They look amazing.

  13. I would be tempted to see how the chairs would look painted to match the room. Then I’d use your antique wax to emphasize the details. I would stain the cane dark (to compliment the antique wax) to help cover the maroon color that is still in them. I bet they would look awesome!
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  14. Wow, they are so pretty in the natural wood. Whatever you decide, they’re going to be phenomenal.

  15. Sheila says:

    I say a grayish green wash overlaid with the lighest creamy white, wiped off as soon as you put it on.

  16. man, I am jealous! Those are beautiful! I’m sure whatever you do they will be gorgeous! Thanks for sharing! love good finds like this!

  17. Mike Manning says:


    I can’t seem to find your email and have a quick question about your blog. Could you email me?


  18. Laurie Sensenig says:

    I would be tempted to paint the frame of the chair and white wash the cane. Can’t wait to see what you decide!!

  19. Maybe paint the cane white and do a nice translucent wash on the frame? They really are so pretty just as they are!

  20. Oh my gosh, they are soooooo wonderful. I have some french caned chairs that i found, and love too, but they do feel fragile, and i don’t like that… so i get how important it is that these feel sturdy. I think they are pretty as is too, but i know you will take them to the ultimate gorgeousness by the time you’re through with them!


  21. teresa says:

    Definitely stain the cane and leave the wood finish as is. They look great and the linseed might darken them. Perhaps a diamond pattern in stain might help. You could also try a dilute bleach solution on the cane to remove and lighten the maroon colour. I’ve had good luck with that in the past on some chairs where I replaced the cane and some didn’t match the original.

  22. Nicole says:

    Whitewashed all the way :) oh & I totally agree about stripping!

  23. Betsy Burns says:

    Recently, I found the 6 arm chairs that match your dining chairs. The were originally a mahogany stain. Standard stripping left the cane very red. I took them to U-blast, a local sandblasting business and as I waved the magic sandblasting wand, I watched the red disappear. The caning wasn’t the same tone of the wood after the blasting though. I found it to be a very yellow white. To combat that, I decided on a driftwood stain with white wash afterwards. They are going to be amazing! Perhaps even comparable to some Restoration Hardware chairs featured in a recent back issue of House and Home Magazine.

  24. Alexis Kelley says:

    This may sound completely whacked, but I would consider (not sure I’d go through with it but I would consider) a black stain on the cane and hemp oil or even your antiquing wax on the wood. Think of chairs that have black arms and legs. I know, but there is nothing like a black accent–such a great contrast!

    LOVE your blog! Found you through Cote de Texas I think.

  25. Teresa says:

    Stain the wood and paint the cane… maybe even white wash it. :) I cannot wait to see the afters.
    Glad I found you…
    Teresa from Austin, TX

  26. Michelle Dickson says:

    I was wondering where you found someone to strip your chairs. Would I call a furniture restorer?

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