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

MB @ YarnUiPhoneapp v1.2

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!


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!

Tamara, Bella Boho

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.


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.?


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!


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. :/


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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?


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


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.


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


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! :)


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.


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


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


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


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?

Daphne Collins

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!


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.


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.

Emily Weadock

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

becky z-dub

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


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


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!


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


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!

kelley swain

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.