Furniture Freshening: DIY Rope Handles

The guys in my house don’t like painted furniture!!!  While my son’s been home these past few weeks, we’ve been pulling together furniture pieces for him out of my waiting-for-a-makeover collection.

Several of the pieces are faux wood laminate and although I offered to paint any or all, he insisted that I don’t need to make them “cutesy” for his benefit because he prefers them just how they are!


Take this tall boy for example.  It’s been sitting around here unfinished since this post.

What color do you want me to paint this?  

No color.  Just leave it.

I could just paint the drawers? (because you can still see where the old handles were…)


How about I just paint the main unit?

NO.  I like it just how it is (the orangy colored 1960’s wood laminate veneer!)


So, all that was needed was some drawer handles.  I told him he could find some in my box o’ knobs, pulls and handles.

Next thing I know he’s attached my antique copper knobs???!!!

Uhmmm, yah, Kev…that’s not going to work.   Although I’ve had them for years and still haven’t used them on anything.  But that’s not the point!

And since we couldn’t find a matching set of 6 handles, or any combination there of, not to mention that we’re aiming for an el cheapo solution, I suggested rope handles.  And we finally agreed.  


DIY rope handles


-Cut lengths of rope to about 15 inches.  I used 3/8″ sisal rope.

-Trim rope ends slightly to a point, if needed

-Dab ends with a bit of coconut oil.  (This step might not be needed for other types of rope.)

-Thread the rope ends through the drawer handle holes

-Use the needle nose pliers to pull the stubborn ends through the hole.

-Tie a knot on both ends of the rope on the inside of the drawer.  Adjust the knots and once the handle is the right size, pull the knots taught.

(Most of my ends went right through once I dabbed them with coconut oil.  A few of the ends needed a little bit of trimming on an angle and a tug or two with the pliers.)


I also rubbed a bit of coconut oil on the rope handles on the outside portion of rope because it seemed to soften the sisal rope a little.



Can you see this in the galley of a ship, now?  Just wondering.



Adding these rope handle took me about half an hour to do, and it really made a difference on this tall boy, at least enough so that it passed the makeover-a-piece-of-guy-furniture test.

Both Ken and Kevin were quite please with the end result of not painting of the original wood-look, yet it had still had an update of sorts, you know, what do I keep calling it:  furniture freshening?

09-2015-07-12 17.44.39

10-2015-07-12 17.45.36

Also going with him, but still staged in my living room is the stained Ikea hack in photo #1 above, and the stained Ikea hack end tables in photo #2.

Both were donated by my work buddy Rachel and her husband.  They loved to travel, just like Kevin and I was thinking that he should pay them back with some of his frequent flyer miles in exchange, what do you think?

~ Amy


DIY Nautical rope handles on a repurposed lamp shade gift basket -

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6 Responses to Furniture Freshening: DIY Rope Handles

  1. Anne@DesignDreams July 14, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    Love! The rope handles make this piece look special. Great idea!!

  2. sharleen July 14, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    Yeaaap my son would say black it has to be.. I used industrial grade steel paint on his furniture once.. on a laminate hutch.. we both LOVE it. looks like black with a sort of masculine glitter.. if there is such a thing.!! Love those rope handles. Amy.. they look much better. xoxo

  3. chris aka monkey July 14, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    men and painted furniture too funny same here he hates it but tolerates it because the kid and i love painted furniture xx

  4. Doreen@househoneys July 16, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    That’s too funny. Men!

    Great solution Amy. It looks great and thanks for the coconut oil tip.

    Have a great weekend!


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