When times are uncertain, we tend to look to the past for the comfort provided by hindsight and nostalgia. Everything looks better in the rearview mirror. But does this human truism extends to … wicker?
It’s true that one of the hottest current trends in home decor is the re-incarnated bohemian look complete with wicker pieces that might have once adorned a front porch or patio. The style has extended to embrace that woven look in everything from ottomans to lampshades, coffee tables to couches.
This trend is driven by millennials who, according to New York-based interior designer Lucy Harris, “are consuming more as they come of age. There is a surge for authenticity in homes, looking for a unique, authentic vintage piece.”
Rande Leaman, a Los Angeles interior designer, sees this yearning for the woven look of yore as a "desire for something cozy and comforting, particularly in the time we are living in. We want to feel like our home is a cozy, safe haven, and I think the boho style, wicker, brings us back to grandma’s house."
While it might seem like a safe choice, there are some cons to decorating with wicker.
1. You Are Stuck With the Look
Other types of furnishings can be repurposed, reimagined, and reused as styles change, but wicker is less adaptable.
“My personal take on it is it’s difficult to repaint or refinish if it doesn't go with your color scheme or if it fades,” says Central Texas interior designer Audrey Konkel.
And nothing screams “I made a mistake” like trying to work a wicker sofa into a whole new style a few years down the line.
2. It Doesn’t Always Wear Well
Of course, depending on the type of wicker you purchase, you might not have to worry about being stuck with the style. A lot of people see wicker patio pieces and mistakenly assume all wicker will be just as tough and hold up to whatever they throw at it.
“Real wicker, you actually wouldn’t put it outside because it would fall apart,” says Harris. “A lot of what we think of as wicker isn’t real; it is synthetic. It wouldn’t be out in the elements. True wicker is not outdoor-friendly.”
OK, so you don’t generally put patio furniture in the house. Does that mean your woven furnishings will withstand daily living inside your home? Not always.
“Are you wanting to buy something that is gonna look great for a few years?” says Harris. “There are pieces that were designed in the mid-century period that are just as fresh and beautiful today, but obviously there are some that are going to look more trendy and the design isn’t going to be as long-lasting.”
3. It Doesn’t Mesh With Every Lifestyle
The “granny chic” look that is part and parcel of wicker’s resurgence is being pushed mainly by millennials, a group born between the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. Though the style may appeal to their sense of nostalgia, it won’t necessarily stand the test of time.
Wicker might work if you are a single person or it’s just you and your partner. But add babies of any kind and you could have a problem. “If you have pets, wicker furniture makes a great scratching or chewing post,” says Konkel.
And, especially in the case of little children running about, wicker can be a literal pain. “It unravels like a basket and it can poke you. You can have little pieces come off,” says Leaman.
4. It's High Maintenance
Most modern furnishings can be cleaned fairly easily. If you get a little carried away during a big game and upend your nachos and beverage, no big deal. Get a towel or some fabric spray and life goes on.
If you commit to the ways of the wicker, you won’t have such luck. “ Food will easily get stuck in there, making it very difficult to clean,” Konkel says.
Even a splash of something as innocuous as H20 can spell ruin for your wicker pieces. “You can’t really clean it once it’s been damaged or stained by water,” says Harris.
5. A Quality Weave Comes at a Cost
It can cost a pretty penny to outfit your home, so it is tempting to try to stay on trend and on a budget. With furnishings making up the largest portion of your home decor budget in many cases, you might think the oh-so-popular wicker would help you save some cash. And there’s the rub.
Wicker pieces that look posh probably are really rattan. “Rattan is the more chic version of wicker. A lot of high-end showrooms have rattan furniture. It’s lovely, but it is quite expensive,” says Leaman. “It seems like something you would put in in your backyard, which indeed people do, so it seems like it would be inexpensive.”
Of course, you can get wicker on the cheap, but like anything else, you get what you pay for.
6. It Doesn't Suit Every Type of Home
As with any style of decor, personal preference should go hand in hand with consideration of a dwelling’s architectural style and location.
“[Wicker] is a style that is really great for certain places,” says Leaman. “Like a high rise in Manhatten, I wouldn’t put it there. But my in-laws have a beach house and they have wicker in a bedroom and it’s homey and comfortable and has held up. It’s really appropriate in that setting.”
Before you purchase a whole houseful of woven wonders, consider these warnings and your true makeover motivation. If you want something that lasts both in style and substance, you might want to pass on the wicker.