Wicker, wood weave together well


June 12, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Time Syndicate

Q: I love wicker and bamboo furniture so much that I want to use it in my living and dining room. It would be mixed with traditionally styled mahogany pieces. The subsequent look would have to be informal, I suppose, but not at all beachy. What's the best way to produce this effect?

A: I also love bamboo and wicker, as well as cane and peel, and over the years I've succeeded in sneaking those materials into some unexpected places.

It's actually not that hard to do. After all, wicker and bamboo have been used for so many centuries in such a wide variety of settings that they go perfectly well with much period furniture, especially English. But it's still helpful to understand how these tropical materials can best be coordinated with types of wood associated with European settings.

Much depends, of course, on the particular styling of your bamboo and wicker pieces. They might be rather exotic, as is true of many such furnishings designed in Victorian times, or they could be Shaker-like in their simplicity. Because the pieces are to be juxtaposed with traditional mahogany furniture, your chances of success will be much greater if the bamboo and wicker have fairly ordinary lines.

Perhaps you can take a few cues from the setting shown in the photo. While indisputably traditional, this room has a relaxed look that is very much of the moment as well as being distinctively American. The furniture can also be dressed up or down depending on the room's overall treatment.

The pineapple-design pedestal table is inspired by British West Indies colonial furniture. It's accompanied by more modern-looking, minimally styled chairs that have been covered with woven peel. The entire ensemble is from the Milling Road collection.

It's best, I think, if cane, bamboo and rattan are left in their natural colors. They can range from the usual pale honey tones to rich tobacco browns seen in certain species of reed-like bamboo.

For further inspiration, I suggest you consult books that describe the eclectic interiors of 19th-century England. You'll find many // examples of tropical materials used in Northern settings. The same combination, by the way, has also long been popular in high-style modern interiors.

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