DIY Beni Ourain Berber Style Bench.
So, my disclaimer to kick off with; I am by no means an upholsterer, and I’m sure there are better ways to approach this project. No matter though, today I’ll be showing you how to potentially save £££’s with a DIY Beni Ourain Berber style bench.
Beni Ourain rugs (see below), have been popular in interiors for decades, but have really hit the big time in recent years. If you haven’t heard of a ‘Beni Ourain rug’ before, then you might have heard of ‘Berber’ or ‘Moroccan’ rugs.
Wee bit of history for you; Basically, Beni Ourain (not one bloke on his own!) are a group of Berber people(made up of 17 different tribes), traditionally shepherds and goat herders, from the Rit or Atlas mountains of Morocco. Each tribe produces rugs. However, each rug, though similar in style, varies in design depending on the tribe. The superior quality of these rugs is due to the high quality of organic wool produced by the sheep in the region. Interesting eh!
Now, if you’ve searched for these rugs, you’ll know they can be expensive. I managed to get a decent sized area rug from La Redoute last year (here) which is destined for the spare room… for those of you ‘in the know’ yes, that rug! (turns out, this rug is so popular, it has it’s own instagram page! here).
Aside from the rugs, you can also get furniture. And it’s bloody gorgeous!!
Not surprisingly, all this gorgeousness doesn’t come cheap. At £675.00 for the ottoman, perving online is about as close as I will ever get to owning one.
Not being one to shy-away from a DIY experiment, I set about looking for a small rug, that had that slightly worn/flattened pile, that you often see in older style Berber rugs. Then I had an idea.
Bath mats! TK Maxx sell a wide range of bath mats in varying sizes colours and textures. This one in particular, was perfect! Slightly off-white, larger than average, and with that knubby flattened texture that I was after.
Now to add the pattern.
DIY Beni Ourain Rug.
What You’ll Need;
- An alcohol marker, in the colour of your choice.
Seriously, that is it! Okay, maybe two alcohol markers, depending on the size of your rug.
What’s an alcohol marker you say? Well, the clue is in the title. Alcohol markers, aren’t water soluble, as they are alcohol based… making them ideal for use on fabrics and textiles. Wahey! They come in a wide range of colours and vary in price from £2-£4 each. The particular brand I used for this project was Spectrum Noir, however, other brands such as Promarker or Copic, would work just as well.
If you are unsure of where to begin, then I would definitely suggest sketching out some pattern ideas first. Once you’re happy with your pattern, use it as a reference to draw from. I skipped this stage. As I love the irregular nature of Beni Ourain rugs, I wanted to ‘give it a go’ and see what I came up with. Remember; the beauty of these Berber rugs, is that they are imperfect and full of wonky lines. Perfect for a have-a-go rug designer.
I started at one corner and lightly marked in the first section of line, using the thick end of your marker. Working over this, I used a light scrubbing motion to fill it out, working down into the pile. Don’t worry about being too neat, but do try to stick to your line. Once it’s dry you can fluff the pile up and any irregularities will blend in.
As these markers are alcohol based, the ink bleeds slightly, but this helps give better coverage.
Continue on your line until complete.
Tip; every so often, pick the fluff off of the tip of the pen. This helps to avoid ink transferring on to areas that you want to remain clean.
Keep filling out your pattern, until you are happy with the end result.
Once you’ve finished, leave the ink to dry, before fluffing up the pile to blend the line edges with the un-coloured pile.
Now For The DIY Beni Ourain Berber Bench.
What You’ll need;
- Strong plywood for the base (Or in my case, an old piece of chipboard)
- Upholstery foam (I used 2″ thickness)
- Wadding to plump up the stool (I used an old pillow)
- Upholstery nails
- Legs of your choice (and screws to attach, if necessary)
Once you have your rug, you’ll need to construct the bench. The only part that I had to buy for this was the foam for the padding and upholstery nails. This foam cost me £10 from a fabric store. The nails were £1.00. I already had the legs and the wood for the base was an off-cut from another project. I would recommend thick plywood for the base, as this will be less likely to bend under weight. Not that I’m calling you heavy…
To start, I cut the wood down to size, making sure that there was enough excess to wrap and secure underneath all sides (including the thickness of the foam).
Using a bread knife, I cut the foam down to the same size as the wood. To soften the shape of the padding and to give a nice soft curve, I used wadding from an old pillow, spread out evenly over the top of the foam.
Setting the foam to one side, I then measured an equal distance in for each leg and screwed them in place.
Placing the foam and wadding back on the bench, I draped the fabric over, positioning it to ensure an even border around each side. I then started to secure the fabric.
Tip; Using upholstery nails, pin one nail in the centre of each side underneath (pulling an even tension on the fabric, on each side) to secure in place. Work around the base, pinning the fabric, ensuring even tension and no folds. At the corners, snip off the excess fabrics and tuck one side under the other neatly. Pin underneath to secure. If required, stitch the folded corners to further secure.
I am delighted with the end result. Even close up, you wouldn’t know that this had been markered. You certainly wouldn’t know that the whole thing cost me less than £20!!
Having costed the whole project, a bench like mine, measuring 80 x 40 x 35cm would cost less than £50 to make, buying all of the components new. Not bad!
Now that I’ve tried this, I really want to try it out on a DIY Beni Ourain round rug for the living room bay. I’ve spotted an Ikea Adum that I’d like to use, however, it is synthetic so I’m not sure how the markers would react. If anyone has tried something similar, I’d love to hear from you.