February 8th, 2021
Environmentally friendly materials continue to be the favourites of the time and for more reasons than one. Using organic materials in the home, such as rattan, cane or wicker, add a welcoming & natural feel that is perfectly at home in a Country, Coastal or Urban environment. Bringing the outdoors in, through woven, raw and repurposed materials gives the warmth of nature to any room and offers a timeless appeal.
Today we are putting the spotlight on one of our most-loved and versatile materials, rattan, so you can discover the many ways in which you can incorporate this organic material into any room of the home. A climbing vine-like species of palm, rattan is a fast-growing tropical plant which grows prolifically in Indonesia, the Phillipines, and other areas of South East Asia. It grows in the shape of a pole which varies in size, and is regarded one of the strongest woods, growing as high as 30 metres. In its raw state, rattan takes on a yellowy tinge, so it is often finished in a dark brown, grey or white wash and can be painted to suit a variety of styles. With over 600 different species, rattan has been a popular choice, not only for its beauty, but because it is lightweight, durable and flexible.
Rattan is perfect for all seasons and its versatility lends itself to interior and alfresco spaces. Mixing rattan alongside plaid & wools cushions in cooler months brings a rustic warmth, whereas styling it amongst cottons and canvas provides a relaxed and cooling space in the warmer seasons due to its lightweight and breathable structure. Rattan lightens the atmosphere of even the grandest architecture and is associated with exotic travel destinations to understated farmhouses and is a perfect addition to counterbalance fine art and antiques.
What is the difference between Rattan and Wicker?
While Rattan and Wicker are often use interchangeably, the key difference is that rattan refers to the organic material itself, whereas wicker is an ancient technique of manufacturing that dates back to the ancient Egyptian times. Wicker involves the weaving of natural materials such as rush, willow, seagrass, reed and rattan into furniture, baskets and decorative items.
More recently, wicker utilises synthetic materials and aluminium frames, which allow a longer life span due to greater resistance to the elements of sun, salt and rain. Often painted, wicker furniture or synthetic woven fibres are selected for external use as they are more resistant and less likely to rot when left in the elements for long periods.
The use of rattan in its own right only became popularised in the 17th and 18th century, due to it's extreme durability in hot climates, resistance to pests and it's light-weight structure. It wasn't until the beginning of the 19th century that rattan began to adopt the Oriental and exotic design influences of the Regency period.
What interior style does Rattan fit into?
Rattan is exceptionally versatile in its use and style, both exuding glamour through its presence on wide stately porches and tropical verandahs, as seen with the infamous Peacock Chair throughout the home's of European Royalty, as well as reflecting an organic, understated beauty, seen within the home today. Rattan's malleability means it can be crafted into anything from furniture, baskets, light fixtures, trays and decorative accents.
White washed rattan pairs beautifully with coastal tones, whereas the cooler undertones of grey washed rattan fits seamlessly within a minimal Belgian or Urban aesthetic. Lastly, the richness achieved through antique brown wash rattan brings warmth to country homes and can lend a more relaxed feel to formal Hamptons interiors.
What colours go with Rattan?
To reinforce rattan's natural aesthetic, pair it with plenty of fresh greenery, floral or botanical prints, and other natural materials, such as linen, wood, jute or wicker. To keep it from looking flat, add contrasting elements in the form of reflective mirrored surfaces, glassware or pewter. Layering rattan alongside these textural elements provides contrast which helps create unique and interesting spaces, providing visual richness
throughout your home.
For a bolder statement
Antique brown wash rattan + navy, charcoal & plaid colourways + richer materials such as leather, heavy-weight linen and timber.
For a casual & Coastal feel
White wash rattan + white, oatmeal & blue colourways + lighter materials such as bleached wood, coral and driftwood.
For a minimal & Urban feel
Grey wash rattan + muted grey, neutral undertones + contrasting textures of iron, stone, wood, concrete and exposed brick.
For inspiration, we are sharing our favourite ways to decorate with Rattan, with a nod to some other natural fibres such as Water Hyacinth, Sea grass & Jute. At the end of the article we show you how you can incorporate Suzie's 5 essential styling tips when decorating with natural materials, so you can create a look that is balanced, ageless and welcoming.
Items to include:
Bedroom: Bedside trays, Tissue boxes, Lamp bases, Coasters, Bedroom Chests, Storage Boxes & Tea-trays.
Living room decor: Small trays, baskets, trinket boxes & light shades.
Bathroom: Cotton wool canisters, trio baskets for towels, laundry baskets, bins, small trays and toilet roll holders.
Focusing on Grouping: use rattan trays in the bedroom or living area to group decorative accents on the tray, while simultaneously grounding the room and protecting surfaces. Placing a rattan tray on an upholstered ottoman or glass surface both protects the surface and relaxes the space, while allowing you to showcase your favourite decor.
Items to include:
Dining Tableware: Placemats, underplates, coasters, vases, candleholders, napkin holders, napkin rings, caddy's, cutlery trays and servingware.
Barware: Water jugs and dispensers, ice buckets, picnic baskets, bar trolleys, tumbler glasses and butler's trays.
When using rattan in your dining or entertaining space, less is more. Focus on adding 2-3 complimentary pieces, such as an underplate, placemat and caddy. We recommend sticking with the same colourway of rattan for the table, to keep the look streamlined and make it easier to select your complimentary tableware. An exception to this is if you create contrast by pairing light or grey washed rattan tableware with black or white painted rattan furniture.
Items to include:
Bedroom: Chests, bedsides, lamps + bedheads.
Living Room: Side, coffee or console tables, trunks, foot-stools, occasional chairs, lighting, sculptural pieces, storage boxes & crates.
Home office: Desks, desk caddy's, chairs and document or filing trays.
Dining: Dining chairs and tables, accent chairs, benches & barstools.
Lighting: Look for large pendants made from rattan, raffia or wicker in sculptural shapes, or choose a fixture with an open weave pattern to spread light around the whole room.
Outdoor: Hanging chairs, planter boxes, and rattan outdoor lounges and dining furniture, umbrella baskets and coat racks.
Because you often see rattan, wicker or cane used it in resorts and places that encourage relaxation, adding furniture pieces and storage solutions made from these natural fibres emulates that calming sense within the home. We recommend steering away from any lacquered rattan as it tends to go yellow in the sun. Beautiful benches and stools made from teak, cane, and rattan also make great accent pieces for foyers and living areas. We also recommend rattan storage trunks at the end of the bed for to store blankets in the warmer months which can also function as a coffee table.
"Rattan exudes laid-back elegance and an air of understated relaxation, and is increasingly popular with
designers of today" - Rattan: A World of Elegance and Charm
Use an eye-catching lighting fixture to elevate the room & make it the focal point.
Lighting changes how we see a space and how we feel when we are in that space.
There are 4 main lighting styles; Accent Lighting, Ambient Lighting, Task Lighting and Mood Lighting. Accent lighting creates visual interest in a room. Use accent lights such as wall sconces to frame the centrepiece of your room, such as styling them on either side of your mantlepiece, wall art, above your bedside or other architectural features. Ambient lighting is fundamental to a properly lit room and provides the overall illumination through lighting fixtures such as Ceiling Pendants. Look for large pendants made from rattan, raffia or wicker in sculptural shapes, or choose a fixture with an open weave pattern to spread light around the whole room.
Task Lighting brightens areas where routine tasks are performed and makes a nice addition to the ambient lighting in your living, bedroom or dining space. Task lighting includes adjustable floor or table lamps. Lastly, Mood Lighting is where you can get creative with pretty candleholders, hurricane lamps or decorative lights that function both as decorative objects and provide soft illumination.
Lustre is often what makes a design truly shine... adding a subtle bit of glam through a reflective mirror, shimmer or pewter can bring a sense of glamour and charm that would otherwise be missed. Lustre and lighting often work in sync, as lustre is the state or
quality of shining by reflecting light.
When styling with Rattan, Wicker, Cane and natural materials, it is important to contrast the grounded, organic fibres with a reflective surface, crystal, glassware or pewter to lift the space and stop it from looking flat.
Green, Living & Lush... Plants, Foliage and Flowers can simultaneously soften and elevate a space. Create a fresh, tropical look with some Palm Leaves, a more refined look with White Orchids or Roses, an Industrial look with a Fiddle Leaf Fig and bring a pop of colour with some lemons, limes or oranges in a ceramic bowl in the centre of the table. As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, including an abundance of fresh greenery and flowers helps to reinforce rattan's natural aesthetic and adding a touch of colour really helps the room to come alive.
The key when styling with natural materials is to not over do it, and one way to do this is to use Rattan as an accent piece or vehicle to group together some of your most loved pieces. By placing a rattan tray on top of painted console, upholstered ottoman, or bedside, it allows you to work within a smaller space so you can curate your decor, such as a luxury candle, natural found object, antique vase or pewter photo frame.
Layering different shapes, sizes and textures creates interest, especially when working with natural materials. Layering rattan, wicker or cane alongside other textural elements such as soft furnishings, natural found elements, metallic, shimmery or reflective surfaces and richer tones, provides contrast which helps create unique and interesting spaces and provides a visual richness throughout your home.
Below, we share some ways you can experiment with layering textures through 'groupings'. A simple way is by pairing a tall Rattan Candleholder or rattan lamp, next to a fresh Floral Arrangement in a glass vase. You can also experiment with creating depth and dimension by using a rattan tray to style decor in complimentary textures such as coral, fresh greenery, a glass candleholder or a coffee table book. You you can focus on building a beautiful tablescape vignette, starting with a placemat, underplate, dinner plate, entre plate and napery in complimentary colourways.