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If anyone says rattan isn’t the most beautiful, versatile thing in the world of furniture, screw ’em,” Kamelin says when referencing her love of the material, New York–based interior designer. “Rattan and wicker is the equivalent to going to visit someone, and when they open the door, they’re barefoot. You suddenly feel like, ‘Oh, phew,’ because they’re welcoming you into their home to hang out rather than socialize. It’s softening and disarming.”

Start Small

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If you believe rattan is an outdoor-specific material, I encourage you to think again. “I use it in just about every room, and I like to mix it into more formal living and dining rooms to add a relaxed vibe to those spaces. Try mixing vintage and antique rattan with modern and antique furniture to give your interiors a more interesting, collected look.” Our team also suggests easing into the aesthetic by pairing unobtrusive pieces — like a small rattan drinks table or magazine holder — with existing furniture, like a traditional armchair.

modern look

Say you have a vintage rattan piece, how do you make it play nice with your existing decor? Kamelin advises bringing in the material in pairs. “I would tell people to get two of anything, so that it has a cross reference in a room,” she says. “If they wanted to get, say, chairs, they should get a set. That or bring in something else in the room like a rattan box or planter or mirror. It’s all in the balance.”

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We know how to take rattan and wicker furniture from frumpy to fabulous. “If you’re working with a chair or a sofa, for instance, simply adding a seat cushion or pillows, or going all in with a new upholstery job in a current fabric, can go a long way toward making the piece feel more modern.”

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