A vintage rattan trunk is not only decorative but very functional. Perhaps you might call this a wicker chest. Actually, I didn't know the difference until I researched a little about wicker and rattan.
Did you know that rattan is a type of plant that is native to tropical regions? I had no idea.
It is a vine-like plant that grows around other vegetation, and its stems can be harvested and woven into furniture. Rattan is often used to make furniture with a more rustic, natural look.
Wicker is not a material; it is a weaving technique that can be used with rattan, willow, bamboo, and more.
So, a rattan trunk is made specifically from rattan material, while a wicker trunk could be made from a variety of materials, including rattan. What you choose may come down to a personal preference. However, a friend gave me this rattan trunk at no cost. It did have some issues, so first, we'll talk about what you can do with rattan material that is less than perfect.
This is our Thrift Store Day, be sure to check out all the projects below.
Inspect Rattan Trunk
Whether you're giving a makeover on something you already own or a piece you got free or from a thrift store. The FIRST thing you need to do is to inspect it for flaws.
This wicker chest (made from rattan?) was used as a table in a rental cabin. The owners were updating a few things and would throw them away. At first, I said, "pass." But my friends talked me into dragging it home from Sevierville, TN.
For more tips on prepping furniture see my article
Because a few of the panels had come loose, I used my favorite Gorilla Wood Glue and my Ryobi Airstrike (staple gun) to secure the items that had come loose.
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Remove Broken Pieces of Rattan Wrap
As you can see, some of the wrapped rattan was damaged. Because nobody would know it was there once it was removed, I cut it off all four feet so they would match. Honestly, I think it just adds to its rustic charm. Overall, I think a rattan trunk as a coffee table is durable and long-lasting.
Spray Paint Wicker Chest
I immediately knew I didn't want to paint this wicker rattan trunk with a paint brush. First, I thought spray paint would be an excellent way to go. However, the coverage was not so great. But, I continued with the white spray paint inside and out as a primer or base coat. I'm sure whatever I had started with would still need several more coats.
Use a Paint Sprayer for Rattan or Wicker
Since I never throw anything away, I have some old stock of Heirloom Traditions Paint that was more of a chalky type of paint. This color is Naval. I'm just a "use what you have" kinda girl, aren't you?
Use Painter's Tape
The handles of the rattan trunk are open to the inside. Therefore, I had to use painter's tape to not get the Naval paint on the inside of the chest.
Things to notice in this image:
- The chalkiness of the pretty blue paint.
- How natural the feet look even with the rattan wrap removed.
- I painted the hinges to make things easier.
- I raise my projects onto sawhorses to make any painting job easier.
- There is very little overspray from the Homeright Paint Sprayer.
So, in order to insure a flawless paint job, it's now time for the top coat. Is it what I planned to do? No, it isn't. But when you DIY, you gotta learn to roll with the punches.
The all in one paint from HTP is great for any application,
Minimal Overspray with Paint Sprayer
Again, notice how little the overspray is using the paint sprayer!!! It truly made the rattan trunk makeover so much easier than the spray paint I had been using.
I got a little ahead of myself when I removed the painter's tape. You can see that the coverage inside the wicker trunk isn't that great.
Now on to another plan. Are you seeing a pattern here? It definitely helps to be flexible AND patient.
Paint Inside of Trunk with Small Paint Roller
Why did I paint the inside white when the outside is navy blue? I did so in order to make it brighter and crisper once opened. That makes it easier to locate items in dim lighting.
Rolling on the HTP paint was the way to go for the inside. The coverage was awesome. Note to self: Spray paint doesn't cover raw wicker or rattan very well. That being said, I believe once it has a good coverage, you could easily change out the color with spray paint.
So much better. It was a fine line trying to figure out where the blue ended and the white began. First, I had more white on the lip of the trunk. However, the white was visible when the lid was closed. So I used a small foam roller to paint on more of the Polo color.
TIP: Paint can take days to fully cure especially in less than ideal situations. In order to keep the lid from sticking, a temporary solution is to use wax paper on the raised areas that will tend to exchange paint.
In my case, I simply left the lid up for a few days while the trunk was in storage before it makes it's way to my booth to find a new home.
The rattan trunk is so roomy!
What are some common uses for a wicker or rattan trunk?
- Storage: Rattan trunks make great storage solutions. They can be used to store blankets, pillows, toys, books, or other household items.
- Coffee table: Rattan trunks can be used as a coffee table in your living room. They provide a natural and rustic look that complements any decor style.
- End table: Rattan trunks can also be used as end tables to hold lamps, vases, or other decorative items in your living room or bedroom.
- Accent piece: Rattan trunks can add texture and interest to any room in your home. They can be used as an accent piece in a corner or as a decorative element on a bookshelf.
- Entryway bench: Rattan trunks can be used as an entryway bench to provide a place to sit and put on shoes, while also providing storage for hats, scarves, and gloves.
- Outdoor storage: Rattan trunks are durable and weather-resistant, making them a great option for outdoor storage. They can be used to store gardening tools, outdoor toys, or other items.
Keep Accessories to a Minimum
If you're using your rattan trunk for storage, it's a good idea to keep the accessories to a minimum, so you don't have to move items when you want to retrieve something from the inside.
In short, a rattan trunk can be a versatile and functional piece of furniture that adds style and storage to any room in your home.
More Awesome Makeovers!
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- Vintage Rattan Trunk Makeover (you are here, thank you!)
- Coastal Cloche Idea
- Junky Botanical Planter from Thrift Store Finds
- DIY Indigo Handcrafted Vase
- Easy DIY Luggage Rack Makeover for a Guest Room
- Outdoor Footstool Makeover
- How to Bleach Wood Furniture
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.