Have you considered adding a wicker piece to your home? Even beyond the sunroom, wicker furnishings can work in nearly any home design. From wicker accent chairs and coffee tables to dining chairs and baskets, wicker can add an extra sense of style and texture to your home, whatever your aesthetic.
What is wicker, anyway?
We casually use the term wicker all the time, but do you really know what it means? The true definition may surprise you. After all, wicker is used to describe many types of products—furniture, home accessories, shoes, and even handbags. What you might not know is that wicker is not a specific material but rather the name of a weaving process; the term itself derives from a Scandinavian word meaning “to bend.” And though the terms wicker and rattan are often used interchangeably, they are not to be confused: Rattan is actually a material, made from climbing palm. It is often used in the construction of wicker pieces.
Real or faux
To further complicate the wicker discussion, options include “real” wicker and “faux” wicker. At first glance at a product, you may not be able to tell the difference. “Real wicker is typically a natural product made from wood,” explains Ginnie Vaughan, general manager of National Pools of Roanoke, Inc. “Faux wicker is a manmade product, typically made from resin.” Natural wicker can also be made from rattan, willow, sea grass and raffia. The popularity of real wicker has taken off, due to the elasticity and comfort, as well as the room it holds for creativity in the weave pattern.
Although natural wicker has become popular, synthetic wicker still takes the lead and is the most commonly used. Because it is made from resins extracted from plant material and hardened permanently, synthetic wicker is very durable for outside use. Of course, you’ll want to take precautions to protect your wicker and keep it fresh as long as possible. Vaughan says, “Real wicker will last longer if it is kept indoors, out of any harmful weather elements. If natural wicker is kept outside, it tends to get brittle and break,” she says. “Faux wicker can be kept indoors or outdoors, and it holds up well in different types of elements. Typically, moisture and sunlight do not have a negative impact on faux wicker.”
Wicker for every space
Wicker is an easy choice for outdoor spaces—in patio chairs and couches, sometimes an outdoor sectional with a pool and firepit nearby. It’s often seen in covered patio designs as well. It so easily achieves that relaxed, on-vacation vibe.
Vaughan shares some current wicker trends in which comfort reigns. “Wicker furniture is popular in deep-seating collections with cushions,” she says. “Sofas, loveseats, rockers, ottomans, chaise lounges, et cetera, are very popular items, constructed from resin wicker. Resin wicker has also expanded into dining sets, bar sets, porch swings, and accessory pieces such as fire pits, credenzas, and cushion boxes.”
Josie Long, interior designer at Interiors by Kris, shares some of her favorite ways to use wicker inside. “Incorporating wicker furniture into a room design is a great way to add texture and contrast,” says Long. “I love to use wicker accents in living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms, but they can be used in really any area of the home.”
Long says that designing with wicker adds texture and contrast to a room. “Mixing patterns and materials gives layered depth to the senses, both sight and touch, creating an aesthetically pleasing space,” she says. And wicker isn’t just for the substantial heavy hitters like couches and lounge chairs. Some of Long’s favorite wicker accents include mirrors, ottomans, stools and accent tables. She adds, “Wicker headboards and dining chairs are also fun to use in design implementation. When using wicker indoors, I recommend using it as pops of texture, rather than full-blown wicker everything.”
WICKER IS AN EASY CHOICE FOR OUTDOOR SPACES—IN PATIO CHAIRS AND COUCHES, SOMETIMES AN OUTDOOR SECTIONAL WITH A POOL AND FIREPIT NEARBY. IT’S OFTEN SEEN IN COVERED PATIO DESIGNS AS WELL. IT SO EASILY ACHIEVES THAT RELAXED, ONVACATION VIBE.
The key to keeping your wicker fresh, clean, and lasting for years is to take good care of it.
“Good, quality wicker can last up to several years outdoors, if properly maintained,” says Vaughan. “Cleaning the resin with a soap and water mixture and a soft bristle brush as needed will help keep the surfaces clean and reduce mildew. Covering the wicker with a furniture cover in the off-season will also prolong the life of the furniture.”
Vaughan also recommends investing in wicker for the long haul; as with most things, you get what you pay for. “There are definitely different grades or quality of outdoor furniture, so I recommend buying from a reputable store and manufacturer.”
As for keeping your indoor pieces in good shape, says Long, keep up with “dusting as needed.” A soft brush attachment on your vacuum can help with that task. ✦