Behind the Unstoppable Appeal of Rattan

A bedroom with rattan furniture

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One of our favourite trends of the last year or so is rattan, and it doesn't show any signs of going anywhere. And whether you’re a fan of the boho-chic style (where rattan typically makes its appearance known) or you’re more about the contemporary vibe, rattan is the material that just makes sense in any space.

Wait, What’s Rattan?

If you’re not really a designer or trend-follower, then listen up: rattan is a natural material that people have been raving about because of its durability, texture, lighter weight, as well as its and complex yet beautiful weaving process. Similar in concept to threaded bamboo, rattan is interwoven to create a thicker vine-like structure. It can be used for furniture, baskets, wall hangings, storage bins, and the list goes on.

Through a manufacturing process, rattan is converted from individual sticks to layered and threaded ‘poles’ of material that can then be then woven together to make different items. But, what’s the difference between rattan and other natural materials? The biggest misconception with rattan is that it’s the same as wicker. However, these are two different things altogether!

“The defining difference between the two [wicker and rattan] is that rattan is a material whereas wicker is a style of weave,” shares the BillyOh Team. “There are many choices of garden furniture that use a wicker rattan weave. That simply means the physical material the furniture is composed of is rattan, and the weave style is wicker.” That’s why certain items will say, ‘wicker rattan weave.’

What’s Behind the Unstoppable Appeal of Rattan?

One of the biggest downsides of rattan is that it’s not as sustainable as some other materials. When it comes to the manufacturing process, rattan is often cut before the plant is fully matured. This stops the growth right where it is, meaning the plant can’t continue to produce—which is a big reason why more synthetic rattan materials have come into popularity in recent years. 

However, despite this issue of sustainability, the appeal of rattan is unstoppable. People rave about this material because it’s attractive, light, malleable, and yet surprisingly durable. Another reason why rattan is preferred is because of the natural texture and versatility.

“Rattan is a really versatile texture and looks great both indoors and out,” shares Joy Cho, Founder & Creative Director of Oh Joy!, who recently partnered with Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. “[This] makes it easy when decorating, especially on a budget!”

Cho has been adding rattan to her fall tablescapes—adding a natural texture that works both inside and outside. The weave can be dressed up for an ‘elevated design element’ she says, or it can be dressed down for a casual feel. 

Another reason why people are raving about rattan is because of the versatility.

“Rattan is so fun to add to any space because it's a neutral texture that offers dimension,” shares Bret Sundberg, Director of Design at Guest House. “It's also very reminiscent of mid-century modern furniture which has been popular for a while now.”

The neat thing about rattan is that it can be incorporated into any room or space—inside or outside. In fact, you can use rattan for outdoor accent chairs or even ottomans in a neutral-pallete living room.

“Lately, we've been noticing rattan being used more frequently in the bedroom as a headboard or side tables as well,” she continues. “We recommend pairing rattan pieces with plush, comfy accents like large pillows, a tray or a throw to warm it up.”

How Can You Incorporate Rattan Into Your Home?

First and foremost, rattan is often used in furniture—everything from stools and chairs to couches, benches, and more. However, a slightly different way to incorporate it is to actually weave it around furniture frames. This can help to create an entirely different design style, anywhere from modern to vintage.

You can also incorporate rattan through statement pieces that are more than just for looks. Some design experts recommend adding rattan storage baskets—not only can these double as ottomans or a place to kick up your feet, but they can hold important items you want out of sight and out of mind (think blankets, pillows, etc.).

Outside of furniture, you can incorporate rattan with something unexpected, like your light fixtures. Not only does this create a softer ambiance but, depending on the other colors in your space, it can give off a warm hue (when paired with reds, golds, or browns) or a subtle glow (in lighter-colored spaces).

Another option is to paint your rattan, especially if you’re looking to give your room a modern vibe. For example, for fall, painting rattan red, burgundy, rust/burnt orange, or other fall colors can create a bolder, yet more comforting ambiance that’s conducive to autumn hot chocolate, comfy blankets, and snuggles.