before & after: metal chair makeover + rope bench redo

I’m not usually a fan of chrome chairs, but when I saw Lucie’s chair makeover, I realized that metal chairs have great potential when placed in capable hands. Lucie chose wisely when she used the bright, bold pattern; it definitely added a dose of fun to the simple frame. Great work, Lucie! — Kate

Time: 6 hours

Cost: $25

Basic Steps: I polished the chrome parts and used a new layer of poly foam. For the upholstery, I used Amy Butler’s fabric from her Lotus collection. If you find an old piece that has potential, don’t be afraid to use a big-pattern fabric in a bold color to revive it. — Lucie

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

CLICK HERE to see Cheryl’s completed rope bench after the jump!

As a DIYer, I have an incessant need to look at everything and ask myself, “How would I make that?” I have a feeling Cheryl shares this habit, and her amazing woven bench is the result of her putting those thoughts into action. Apart from the intricate weaving design, Cheryl made all of this colorful twisted rope by hand! The fact that it cost so little to make such a lovely bench only sweetens the success. Great work, Cheryl!

Time: 8–10 hours

Cost: $15

Basics Steps: The original inspiration was this bench that we saw at Anthropologie. I studied the photo and tried to figure out the technique enough to wing it. We started by making a “rope” out of two strips of fabrics that we stapled underneath the bench and then stretched to the other side where we stapled it again. We did this all the way along the bench horizontally, switching colors up as we went.

Then came the hard part. It took some trial and error to figure out how to make the chevron pattern by weaving it in and out of the ropes that we had already stapled down, but once we figured out a pattern, the rest of it went pretty quickly. We stapled these ropes the same way as the others. The advice I would give to others is to not fret too much over it being perfect; the little imperfections will give it more character. It’s an interesting technique that could be applied to any flat surface. — Cheryl

  1. jc says:

    these two projects are wickedly awesome. the rope one is amazing!

  2. I personally like the chair best…and when I first saw it, I thought, “Is that oilcloth?” I think this would work with oilcloth, probably cheaper than Amy Butler’s fabric. Vogue Fabrics has the greatest selection of oilcloth. Check it out sometime!

  3. Alicia says:

    The rope bench is blowing my mind. I can’t even fathom having the patience to make my own rope, let alone weaving it so beautifully once it was made!

  4. Oh that chair is sooooo cute! I did some with a faux cream ostrich seat with a leopard back. Not nearly as cute as Lucie’s, but I’ll send a pic.

  5. Bernie says:

    Love them both. any way we can get a little bit more detailed instructions on the bench? (ie.How wide are the fabric strips?..what type of fabric?) More please.?

  6. calli says:

    Ah yes. I’ve been eyeing that bench at Urban Outfitters and Anthro for quite some time now… I love the DIY version even better, b/c it’s your own and completely awesome. Great work!

  7. january says:

    wow i am in LOVE with that chair! amazing fabric that she chose!

    january, x

  8. I am amazed at how fabulous the bench turned out! It should really go down in the DIYers hall of fame, wherever it is.

  9. erin says:

    amazing job on both projects. the chrome chair is super fun; what a transition!

    i am thoroughly impressed with the bench. so inspiring for all DIYers out there. i wish i could have one of my own, but i KNOW my cat would use it as her own personal clawing board. :/

  10. Emma says:

    Stupendous projects. That rope bench is amazing. I went to a rope makers’ workshop in the north of England as a child. These brightly coloured ropes remind me of that day!

  11. Ola says:

    That bench is absolutely, positively gorgeous. I’ve been reading this site for years and this is the first time I was ever motivated to comment on anything. I check the before and after posts religiously every week and this is the first thing I’ve ever wanted to tackle. Great job! I’d love a DIY post on this, either on Designsponge or on your own site Cheryl.

  12. anna says:

    that bench = omg.


  13. Chela says:

    wow Cheryl you’re my hero, that bench looks amazing. I would love to see a close up of the texture and the rope detail. Im sure it is just as beautiful as the overall look.

  14. Ruthanne says:

    the bench is gorgeous. What a great idea – it definitely goes in the diy hall of fame. Ditto more info – like how wide are the strips of fabric and did you twist them as you went? Fabulous. thanks for sharing!

  15. Missy says:

    Oh wow I love that bench! It’s so gorgeous! I am a great admirer of people who look at something in a store and say, “I think I could do that.” And then actually do it.

  16. Christine says:

    Great make over on the chair and bench. Really like the colors in the bench. Very unique!!

  17. K8 says:

    I LOVE the bench and the fact that you said to heck with paying $300 and made your own for $20, makes me smile inside! I’m tempted to do some square bar stools I have, I think its so neat. THANK YOU for sharing!
    PS How much fabric did you use for your piece?

  18. Josie says:

    That bench is even better than the original!! Great work!

  19. thuy says:

    Love these both! The rope bench is AMAZING! The colors are perfect. Great job!

  20. Gina says:

    Gorgeous chair!

  21. The rope texture and the color on the bench is just gorgeous. Wonderful work and very inspiring!

  22. Amanda says:

    The bench is FANTASTIC! I’d love to see more Before & Afters like this – fresh, innovative projects.

    I’d also love to see more of the process! Awesome job.

  23. jenn says:

    that bench is so amazing! i want to see a DIY step-by-step tutorial on this one!

  24. Great job on the bench Cheryl. Not only is it beautiful but it’s interesting too!

  25. Sarah says:

    I agree that this bench is awesome! After this plus that macrame-d bench from Libby (I think?), it’s time for a tutorial! This is such a tease! :)

  26. Kelly says:

    I really like the chair, though I don’t think it was bad to begin with. I’d love to see how it fits into the rest of the room.

  27. Rachael says:

    Both these projects are awesome! I’m curious how you reupholstered the arms on the chairs? It looks sort of complicated.

  28. Rachel says:

    LOVE that chair! And I’ve been eyeing that fabric on for weeks… great job!

  29. The bench is so impressive!! Like others have mentioned, I would love more info on the rope construction and weaving technique!

  30. Renee says:

    The bench looks incredible! I’m not sure I would have the patience for it but it looks fantastic!

  31. Andrea B says:

    I think I am in love with Lucie’s chair.

  32. julieann says:

    Loved both of these projects. I have a couple vintage chrome chairs that need sprucing up – can you recommend the best way to polish the metal?

  33. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for all the awesome comments on our bench project!
    For everyone looking for a tutorial – I will be working on one to post to my blog within the next month. Also, you can view more detailed photos of the bench here:

  34. Daphne Collins says:

    Really, how did you do that awesome bench? What kind of fabric? How wide? It looks like rope. I am so inspired. More info on this one please!

  35. Lucie says:

    Thank you all for lovely coments:)

    Rachel, the top parts on the arms unsrew, so it wasn’t so complicated but my thoughts exactly when I saw it first.

    JulieAnn, I’ve used Brasso, worked perfect and makes the chrome really shiny.

  36. lori says:

    I adore the metal chair makeover!

  37. Chelsea says:

    Love the bench. I was surprised that it only took you 8hrs but then realized my fatal error as I am doing this project currently…

    For any of you out there wondering, do NOT braid the separate ropes together. Unless you have countless hours of free time and tons of scrap fabric laying around. Just twisting the fabric is the genius way of doing it.

    Gosh, now I may actually finish this project.

  38. The Lotus fabric is to die for. I love Amy Butler’s designs. The coffee table / bench is looking pretty incredible too!

  39. Kangan Arora says:

    The women across North India (as far as I’ve seen so far) have been weaving these fabric beds for many years… here are some I found where I live –

  40. Emily Weadock says:

    My twin girls have been making friendship bracelets over Spring Break – and look at you…making a friendship bench! You clever girl!

  41. becky z-dub says:

    that bench is the best before&after project i’ve ever seen. insane.

  42. Clare says:

    Love the make over on the bench. Textures and colors are absolutely awesome.

  43. Christine says:

    I am SO in love with these chair makeovers that I’ve been inspired to work on my grandparents’ mid-century dining chairs. Thanks for pointing me to ModGreenPod. Wish me luck!

  44. i REALLY love the bench and would also like more detail on how to make the ropes

  45. Maria says:

    @that bench is so amazing! i want to see a DIY step-by-step tutorial on this one! ME TOO !!!

  46. Jesse Lu says:

    Two awesome projects! Love that Amy Butler print.

  47. niknaknan says:

    I brought back a large and very heavy ball of colored rope from India made from old saris. I was told it was used to weave into a mattress for a bed! I’m still loving it as a multicolored ball, but your project is inspiring! Bravo for your incredible patience and innovative DIY project!

  48. Rebecca says:

    Wow, that bench is amazing! Would never think to try something like that on my own, but now I am feeling inspired. We featured a very similar bench selling on Vivaterra, and it sells for $198!

  49. Lyndy says:

    Ok, so did you ever make the tutorial? I’m intrigued!

  50. kelley swain says:

    Where did you get the rope for the bench project?! Love it and need to weave an old rocking chair that belonged to my great-grandmother.


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