Nautical Handles

K on treeI have mentioned previously that the Artist likes the ocean. To continue fixing up our nautical kitchen, we recently decided to make ourselves some rope handles for our kitchen cabinets.

I was inspired by this DIY rope chandelier when I was looking for ways to make our kitchen more ours and less cookie cutter. Since we’re still waiting for S and the Architect to come move in, we are missing a lot of the art and furniture, meaning we can’t really decorate. Except the kitchen. That’s all ours. And I’ve been feeling nest-y since it’s fall and I want to make this place home.

The first step was finding some rope. We went to the hardware store and bought some plain sisal rope. I think that’s great because I love sisal! When I was in college, I studied abroad in the Yucatan, which is where Sisal is from.

A little history of sisal: it is a fiber that comes from a plant in the agave family. It originated in Yucatan and was the major crop there during the colonial period. It is actually called henequen in Spanish (pronounced heh-neh-ken), but the major port it was exported from was a town called Sisal, so the name stuck as the name of the fiber. Sisal makes excellent rope and burlap. The plant was eventually exported to other areas, and now Brazil and parts of Africa are also major exporters.

So we got our rope, but thought the color was too bright. It didn’t look like good, weathered nautical rope. So we coffee dyed it. Our method was pretty simple: Make some strong coffee, add a dash of white vinegar, and boil the rope in the coffee for an hour or so.  It yielded some pretty good results.

dyed rope

The lower pile is the rope after we dyed it, and the upper is beforehand. You can see that it just got a little deeper/richer in color from the dyeing.

Time to get to work: through a little trial and error, we discovered how much rope we needed for each handle. The correct answer was 47 inches. So they all got measured.

measure twice, cut onceMeasure twice, cut once. That’s what my brother taught me.

Then, the job was just wrapping the rope around each of the handles in the kitchen. It was pretty simple. The main trick was just pulling tight enough to be sure it would make a good handle at the end. And we put a dab of hot glue at each end to make sure that the handle stuck, but also would be removable enough that we can take it all out when we finish renting this place.  We also trimmed off any excess rope.

wrapping time!And when it was all done, it was totally worth the few hours of effort! I’d say our kitchen has a lot more personality now!

Do you like it? Do you have any ideas that will make our kitchen better?

panoramic of our kitchen





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