Top upcycling tips and pieces designed by Jaye Workman

Upcycled Cane Chair With A White Pillow

We spoke with homewares and plant enthusiast, Jaye Workman, about her latest project – a couple of beautiful cane chairs that she upcycled after sourcing them on Gumtree – and her tips on how to search for the right item and how to buy it.  

Jaye is a florist who brings thrift shop finds, homewares and plants together to create beautiful upcycled items. Her passion for upcycling started when she got her first apartment at 21 and was interested in styling a space with pre-loved furniture. She now features her impressive work on @thrif_plantabode_

We asked Jaye for her tips & tricks so you can also make a good impact on your home and the planet. 

Jaye’s DIY tips to upcycle these premium-looking cane chairs

  1. Adjust the straps: Remove the pillow cushions to check the seating straps. If they are loose, adjust the straps by using a staple gun to fold them on themselves. That way, if you need to loosen you can remove the staples.
  2. Sand: Lightly sand the cane by using an orbital sander. We only want to take off the layer of stain so it can soak up a new coat of lacquer.
  3. Clean the cane: I use a 50:50 ratio of bleach and water scrubbed with a bristle brush. Rinse with water and leave to completely dry in the sun. I use Selly’s hold up to fix any loose and broken cane weaving or binding.
  4. Oil the cane: Now that we have stripped the cane back to its raw state, we need to add moisture back to the cane. To keep a light tone, apply two coats of linseed oil.
  5. Cushions: Re-cover the existing couching covers with organic linen, by unstitching the existing covers which can be used as a template.


Cane chairs before Jaye upcycled them:

Two cane chairs with a patterned cushioning


Jaye upcycling the cane chairs:

Jane cleaning one of the chairschair


After Jaye’s upcycling work:

Two upcycled cance chairs with white cushioning


Jaye’s wish list with her most searched for items on Gumtree

These five items are always on my Gumtree wish list as they are great to upcycle with my favourite classic look and feel. 

  1. Stools: made of timber, cane or with a mid-century style
  2. Mid-century furniture: such as chairs, buffet, coffee table
  3. Outdoor cane furniture: chairs, table, couches
  4. Outdoor décor: rugs, lamps and lampshades
  5. Pots and plants: Terracotta pots, pot plants and indoor plants 


Jaye’s top tips for buying on Gumtree so you can trade safely and successfully your new favourite pieces:

  1. Communication is key: One way I stay in touch and alert with other Gummies is by turning on my notifications. Whether this is done via email or through the Gumtree app, the notification function will ensure you never miss a message. You can choose to receive these weekly, daily, or immediately. I recommend choosing the ‘immediately’ option as I never want to miss out on a sale or one-off item.
  2. Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask the seller for more details and photos about an item- whether that be the measurements, the type of material or if there are any signs of damage. That way, you know what you’re buying when you pick it up.
  3. Expand your horizons: Gumtree includes a location limit, however, don’t let that hold you back. I often start with a 10km radius, as a way to help save me time from driving a long way. However, if the items aren’t exactly what you’re after, increase the location radius. If your item is located a little further than you intended, make a day out of it! Visit a friend in the area, spend time with the family, or check out some of the local second-hand shops to see if you can find anything else.


For more inspiration to help you on your next upcycling project, check out our first interiors line, Gumtree Collections with Josh & Matt.



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