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Weave It In: 8 Materials to Give Your Home a Warm, Earthy Feel

After decades of sitting pretty on screened porches, wicker furniture is getting a serious second wind. Clean, modern pieces made from jute, rattan, rush, and other durable fibers are easy to find and look fresh indoors year-round. So hang a fixture, or invest in an iconic bed frame or a chair.

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Rattan

Graceful and ultra-sustainable, this material — harvested from the solid core of a Southeast Asian climbing palm — can be steamed and molded to create statement-making shapes. And these days, reproductions of midcentury European designs and other sculptural pieces abound. Consider this sleigh bed and pendant lamp (above) as stylish examples.

Jute & Sisal

There are lots of reasons why rugs made from these tropical leaves are a top pick: They're neutral, versatile, and relatively inexpensive. "If you need to cover a large area, use a jute or sisal rug as your base, then layer a smaller patterned one on top," says Jacobson. Just be mindful of which textile you use where: Sisal, made from the agave plant, is rough, resilient, and ideal for high-traffic zones, while jute is softer and well suited for rooms where bare feet tread. For a softer feel, look for rugs with wool or hemp blended in.

Caning

Appalachian rockers, antique Chippendale seats, and the modernist Cesca chairs that gathered around many a 1970s dinner table have one thing in common: this intricate material, derived from the outer bark of the rattan palm. It's known for its signature octagons, but "people are rediscovering other classic patterns, like herringbone," says Mike Frank, owner of Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply, in Huntington Beach, California. It's also available in machine-made sheets, all the better to get creative with. To wit: Simple vase covers and light-catching wall hangings are a breeze to make.

Rush

Also known as bulrush or cattail, this wetland reed has serious bona fides: It's been used to shape chair backs and bottoms since the time of the pharaohs. In more recent history, American Shaker furniture makers gave their austere rockers' seats this four-flap envelope motif, and midcentury Danish and American designers experimented with the frame’s look. Most contemporary iterations use twisted paper cord instead of natural rush, but both are surprisingly hardy, thanks to the density of the weaving. So sit down and stay awhile.

Grasscloth

Natural wall coverings offer immediate dimension and coziness. "Grasscloth is a clever, subtle way to add texture," says Taylor Jacobson, an interior designer in Los Angeles who loves soft, feminine pinks and grays like these, as well as prints and supersaturated colors. Finishes vary from smooth to coarse. "Choose fine grasscloth for a sleek, minimalist look, and a loose one for a more rustic feel," she suggests. Another guideline: Don't use it in rooms vulnerable to moisture, humidity, and fingerprints, which can cause mildew and leave stains.

Water Hyacinth

This invasive aquatic weed may be a landscaper's nemesis, but interior designers love it for its chunky, nubby quality. The stalks can be dried and worked into distinctive baskets, or woven over metal frames to create pieces that bring the outdoors in. "Nothing about it looks manufactured," Frank says. A hamper made from the material lends a spa-like vibe to a bathroom, and extralarge baskets make chic planters.

Raffia

You've probably seen this fiber twisted into a crunchy ribbon around a bouquet or gift, or braided into accessories like totes and sandals. But delicate raffia palm fronds can also be spun into fabric that resembles grasscloth — for a third of the price, says Frank. And that frees you up to experiment with it: Just a few yards give the doors of this plain armoire a custom, earthy finishing touch.

The Details

Rattan

Kouboo 1 Light wicker pendant lamp, $290, allmodern.com. Serena & Lily Avalon daybed, $1,198, serenaandlily.com. Parachute linen sheet set, in Blush, $169 for full/queen; and linen top sheet, in Blush, $99 for full/queen, parachutehome.com. Tine K Home hanger, in Rattan, $6, tinekhome.com. Bungalow 5 Timor Temple jar, in Natural (left), $260, bungalow5.com. Ballard Designs Piper woven urn, in Large Antique Walnut, $139, ballarddesigns.com. Matta Musi slipdress, in White, $83, mattany.com. Marazzi Studio Life Central Park glazed porcelain floor and wall tile, 12" by 24", $2.50 per sq. ft., homedepot.com.

Jute & Sisal

(From left) Annie Selke’s Dash & Albert Twiggy Natural woven wool/jute rug, from $84, dashandalbert.annieselke.com. Ballard Designs Trellis sisal rug, from $55, ballarddesigns.com. Safavieh Natural Fiber Collection NF181A-5 handwoven natural jute area rug, 5′ by 8′, $240, safavieh.com. Pottery Barn solid sisal rug, in Tweed, from $119, potterybarn.com. Restoration Hardware Belgian basket-weave sisal rug, in Linen, from $495, restorationhardware.com.

Caning

Frank Supply press-in caning, 7/16" and 3/8", in Open Mesh, from $8 per linear ft., franksupply.com. Frank A. Edmunds Company round quilt hoops, 14" and 18", $18.50 each, michaels.com. Jamali Garden clear glass cylinder vase, 6" by 16", $17, jamaligarden.com. IKEA Stockholm 2017 tray, $35, ikea.com. Viva Terra Rattan Diamond Collection tables, from $99 each, vivaterra.com.

Rush

Suite NY woven-rush lounge chair, $3,460, suiteny.com.

Grasscloth

(From left) Stark Palace Collection Metallic grasscloth, in Salmon, price upon request, starkcarpet.com. Phillip Jeffries Seagrass grasscloth, in Spring Flax, $72 a yd.; Schumacher Nishi Weave grasspaper, in Natural, $458 a roll; Phillip Jeffries Manila Hemp grasscloth, in Elephant, $72 a yd.; and Schumacher Banded grasscloth, in Cream, $403 a roll, decoratorsbest.com. HomeStories Natural Iringa large basket, $65, shop.homestories.com.

Water Hyacinth

Oriental Furniture woven fourpanel room divider, in Natural, $279, wayfair.com. Baskets (from left): The Container Store braided water-hyacinth storage cube, $40; and round water-hyacinth hamper, $50, thecontainerstore.com. IKEA Jassa decorative vase, $25, ikea.com. Cost Plus World Market Cameron natural hyacinth braided small and medium tote baskets with handles, from $35 each; and Aimee Arrow small and medium baskets, from $25 each, worldmarket.com. Crate & Barrel Onslow tray (against wall), $40, crateandbarrel.com.

Raffia

Hemnes wardrobe, in Yellow, $379, ikea.com. Benjamin Moore paint, in Lambskin #OC-3 (on wardrobe), and Simply White (on wall), benjaminmoore.com. Cane & Basket Supply Co. fine close-woven raffia cloth, $12.50 for a 2′-by-6′ sheet, caneandbasket.com. Jenni Kayne Carrie Forbes Salon Slide sandals, in Natural, $310, jennikayne.com. Made Goods Jasper pillows (similar to shown), mecox.com.

 

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