Decorating with Wicker Decorating with Wicker

Often when we think of ways to spruce up a tired room, we think color, and indeed, a fresh coat of paint often works wonders. Or try tossing a couple of new throw pillows on the sofa, and the whole room brightens.

But instead of thinking about color, another decorating trick is to think about texture.

Consider using different types of textures, like decorating with wicker, chrome or silk. When decorating with wicker, specifically, adding this texture into a room can have just as great an effect as colors do - or at least they can if you pay attention. Don't be afraid to try your hand at decorating with wicker baskets, wickers chairs or wicker tables.

One way of introducing a new texture without breaking the bank is by decorating with a few small wicker or rattan pieces. Decorating with wicker and rattan will add cheerful country look, or a fresh outdoors look, depending on the finish on the wicker and the shape and function of the piece.

First, let's get our terminology straight when decorating with wicker or rattan. Wicker is made from reed, cane, rush, or willow - or a few other similar plant materials which become pliable when wet. The furniture made from wicker is woven with wetted wicker, and when it dries, it holds its form.

Rattan is a little different, even though in home decorating it has essentially the same effect. Rattan is one specific vine that grows in Far East tropical forests, and is known for its strength. Pieces made from rattan are generally made of thicker strips, and can be sturdier in their natural state.

One of the most common "little things" you can use when decorating with wicker are baskets, boxes, and all manner of containers. A row of wicker boxes on a shelf to hold your scattered clutter can really tidy up a room gracefully. We advise getting several in the same style and color in order to give a uniform look to a room.

By shopping around, you'll be able to find wicker baskets in just about every size, from "in" boxes for the desk to storage trunks that double as coffee tables. You can also find innovative unusual pieces that will enhance any decor.

Adding one chair, side table, or small chest of drawers can brighten up a dull corner. A small wicker table topped with a fresh green plant, or a wicker rocker decorated with yellow cushions will bring a bit of springtime into a dark room.

If you want to decorate a room with more than one piece of wicker, you can create an entirely outdoors look without having to build on a deck or porch. A sisal carpet on the floor will start your room off. Add a few big potted plants, and a glass-topped coffee table. Use wicker for the rest of the furniture, and you'll have an outdoor room inside.

In fact, shopping at yard sales and flea markets can be a great way to find wicker at lower prices, and wicker lends itself to being re-used again and again, because it's so easy to give it a new look. When shopping for used wicker, first check to make sure the piece is sturdy, and doesn't wobble or wiggle when you push on it.

And then, on a sunny day, just give the wicker a thorough cleaning when you get it home. First use a vacuum with a brush, being careful to remove any abrasive soil. Next, wash it with warm water with just a tiny bit of soap. And most importantly, don't soak the piece. Remember to just keep the sponge you use damp, not sopping wet.

Once you've wiped it dry, put it in the sun to allow it to dry thoroughly. Let it sit in the sun for several hours, so you make sure it's totally dry. Don't sit on it for a few days, because it can lose its shape if it's even just a bit damp.

If you want to paint the wicker next, lay down several sheets of newspaper and spray the piece first with a white primer, then with whatever color you choose.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design.

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