When one thinks about rattan furniture, it is easy to imagine a scene in a sea side home, looking over a blue lagoon! It’s fairly common place as rattan is a tropical vine, flexible and strong that can be used in the manufacture of exotic furniture, with designs that seem always fresh. We can easily find a modern rattan living room furniture set or contemporary rattan bedroom furniture that will be just the ticket. Many people buy rattan outdoor furniture, which is also well suited to be placed in a conservatory or a sun room.
What is rattan
It comes from a vine of tropical regions like Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries in South-East Asia. A relative of Calamus and Daemonorops palm trees, it is a plant that grows very rapidly. In the proper climate it can grow up to 15 inches a day and can reach lengths of 600 feet. It has been used for as long as recorded history. It is flexible and very strong, this flexibility and strength makes it malleable into the shapes we need. One superior quality of rattan is that it will not rot. It is the stem of the plant that is used for furniture making, some furniture like living room chairs are made with the core of the rattan, once separated the core is very flexible and can be woven.
Some sites or stores selling wicker furniture do not differentiate between the two terms, the only thing to remember is that rattan is a material and wicker is a process. In the two chairs below both are made of rattan the one on the right is wicker, because the rattan (the core of the plant) has been woven. The one on the left is not woven in any way but the rattan was bent into the shape needed to make the furniture.
Sometimes, in fact frequently, bent rattan frames will be used in conjunction with woven rattan (wicker) to enhance the appearance of the piece. As seen in the chair above and in the blue wicker bedroom set below. It can be used alone or combined with other woods. Bamboo is another very hard wood that harmonizes very well with it, but even non exotic woods can be used for framing wicker accents. This is often more effective in painted furniture. Rattan just like any wood can be stained and varnished, painted or left natural. Today you can find rattan furniture in many colors. Approximately 30% of the wicker furniture sold is white in color, so this is a fairly popular choice. White rattan bedroom furniture is often used for little girls’ rooms.
Wicker furniture like rattan is most commonly used as patio furniture. While most of us think easily about rattan garden furniture or rattan conservatory furniture because we are all familiar with the large papasan and mamasan chairs, it would be a big misconception to base our choice of furniture on these preconceived ideas as there is a large variety of indoor rattan furniture with very modern designs. Any type of furniture can be made from rattan, chairs or ottomans, tables and beds, dressers, and we have all seen beautiful cane or rattan rocking chairs… Depending on where you want the furniture you can opt for a wide variety of finishes, from natural tones to paints of any color. Bright color painted rattan chairs will give a lively atmosphere to your patio just as your living room can look more classic with neutral tones.
If you plan to use your wicker or rattan furniture outdoors, make sure it is coated for outdoor use so that it will look good for as long as possible, and bring the furniture in out of the weather when you are not using it, unless you buy synthetic wicker which has the same properties as natural wicker but is suitable for all weather conditions.
For a more exotic look choose white or a light gray color, and large seating chairs preferably square or blocky. A must-have item, if you want a true Caribbean atmosphere, is a rattan bar.
Maintenance of this type of furniture is not difficult, a damp cloth once in a while is sufficient to keep it clean, and every few month a deeper vacuuming or cleaning. So easy that, should you decide to buy rattan furniture, you will think you are still on vacation.