I still remember the glee I felt when I moved into my very first apartment. After years of decorating and redecorating my childhood bedroom (and every other room Mom would let me get my hands on), I finally had a place of my own to trick up. To stretch my decorating dollars, I liked to hunt for finds at flea markets and antique malls. It was in these dusty gold mines that I fell hard for furnishings and accents made of wicker and bamboo.
Today I’m still just as smitten by the organic lines, rustic texture and romantic grace of wicker and bamboo. And through the years, these natural wonders have become an integral part of the Nell Hill’s look. Here are some tips for incorporating these beautiful and Earth-friendly pieces into your home.
Pull Up a Chair
When customers come to Nell Hill’s looking for seating, you won’t believe how many roll their eyes when I suggest chairs and sofas made from wicker or bamboo. They are convinced all wicker furniture is rickety and uncomfortable. But when they see the beauties at Nell Hill’s, they fall in love. Today’s wicker furnishings have come a long way from that crazy, creaky chair you had in your college dorm room. Now, wicker is not only sturdy, it’s incredibly chic. In fact, today’s wicker is so stylish it will be at home in every room of your house.
We have lots of fun at Nell Hill’s creating interesting assortments of accent pillows to give our wicker sofas and chairs even more charm. Wicker is so neutral you can pick pillows in just about any style or hue and it looks great. My favorite color combination right now is cream and brown jazzed up with an infusion of green, gold or orange. I like to pick a mix of fabrics that weave in a variety of patterns, such as buffalo checks, geometric shapes and images of nature, like palm leaves.
If you’ve contained your wicker furniture to your back porch or patio up until now, why not invite it in when the weather gets cooler? Instead of storing your wicker chaise, sofa, chairs and ottoman in the garage or basement, work them into your interior décor. If the seat cushions are a bit weather worn, freshen them up with new slipcovers. Or, for a super easy and inexpensive alternative, slip them into a king-sized pillowcase, tucking the open end underneath the cushion.
Turn the Tables
Furniture made from sustainable materials like bamboo, rattan and wicker is hotter than ever right now. When I went to the huge High Point furniture market this year, it was clear that designers and furniture makers are hearing our cry for home furnishings that are stylish and Earth friendly. I was so impressed by the range of beautiful pieces, I ordered hutches, dressers, accent tables, desks and chairs made from bamboo and wicker. They have been flying out the door, going home with customers who are as mesmerized by the affordability and versatility of these beautiful pieces as I am.
If you’d like to experiment with including bamboo or wicker in your decor, start by adding just a piece or two. Put a bamboo end table in your living room. Ring your dining room table with rattan chairs. Spice up your bedroom with a wicker chest of drawers. Store your china in a bamboo china hutch. Or tuck a wicker bench at the foot of your bed.
You can even put bamboo and wicker in unusual places. For instance, I bought a cute bamboo vanity for my downstairs powder room 20 years ago. I still love it today — it hasn’t lost its beauty and it is so neutral, I can put anything with it.
Add an Accent
If you’d like to add rich texture to the displays in your home, work in some accents made of natural materials like wicker, bamboo and rattan. You’ll find all sorts of interesting items made of these wonderful, eco-friendly materials, from rattan baskets to willow cake plates. For example, I like to put vintage-looking bottles that come in willow baskets on the shelves of my hutch because they look great with my seasonal decorating (check them out at Nell Hill’s Online).
I also adore willow baskets. I keep a huge trunk basket under the console table in my foyer at home. Natural and unique, the basket is both fetching and hard working. It fills in the dead space under the leggy table and provides much-needed storage. Right now at Nell Hill’s Online, we have a set of three brown willow trunk baskets that are a great price.
Weather they are made from willow, wicker or bamboo, eco-friendly baskets are wonderful because they earn their keep. Stack a few on top of your armoire, bookcase or secretary to create an interesting display. Place one on the floor by a chair, top it with a tray, and you have an instant table. Put one by your back door to hold mittens. Place one on your hearth to collect kindling for your winter fires.
Next Week …Fall is just around the corner, and I can’t wait! I adore this season, when the trees are blazing with brilliant colors and the air is crisp and clean. I’m starting to get ready for my annual Fall Open House, Sept. 10-11, when I’ll hold my historic Atchison home open for public tour (I hope to see you there!). Next week, I’ll share some of my favorite picks for fall decorating and show you inventive ways to use them in your home this year.
Jaclyn saysAugust 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm
I love decorating with baskets! They are so multi-functional!
Sarah saysAugust 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Like you, I used antique wicker in our first home. It was easy to move and the scale was perfect for our apartment. Later when we purchased our first house, the wicker moved with us, and 20 years later it moved again to our current home. Now it is used on sun porches and in guest rooms. It has served us well as accent pieces for many years. We have a couple of bamboo pieces, but I’d be thrilled to add more. The topic of this post is right up my alley! 🙂
linda d murphy saysAugust 11, 2010 at 8:05 pm
This brought to mind, my first home I purchased at the age of 18yr. in 1965. Between first job, married and a new job, of course I did’nt have much of a budget. However, always being a garage sale, flea market kinda farm girl, I was always attracted to warm but reasonable finds. Baskets, wicker, and as you say bamboo pieces were the deal for me. I once did a living room and dining room wall in nothing but baskets. 264, to be exact. What a great feel. I use alot to this day, for one thing or another. Always a classic look. Still in the budget!!! I also have some I purchased at both your stores. Wish I worked there at times. Thanks for all you do. Linda Murphy
Dee saysAugust 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm
Can 70s wicker pieces be re-incarnated for use now? I have a natural bedroom set (desk, chair and headboard) that I’d love to re-use in my daughter’s room. Leave it natural or paint it?
Mary Carol saysAugust 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm
It really depends on where you want to put your money Dee, and what kind of condition your wicker is in. You can either paint your walls for your daughter’s room then buy some fun pillows for the natural wicker–if in good condition. Or you can spray paint your wicker (consult your local paint store), with a fun new color (that will change your furniture up–especially if it is not in terrific condition)–Totally up to you— either works–have fun!
Leslee Frey saysAugust 13, 2010 at 12:54 am
I am so excited to read your Annual Open House is falling on a weekend that I will be in from California visiting my son and family.
I would love to bring my daughter in law and some other ladies for the day. Do we need tickets? Please let me know and how much they are if we do. I would like to treat. What fun!
Thank you and hope to see you soon.
Mary Carol saysAugust 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm
It will be so great to see you Leslee–No tickets involved–just show up Friday or Sat.–or both–ha! Actually, a lot of people come one day to Atchison and the open house and the next day they come over to Kansas City–less then an hour away–to our Briarcliff store. Can hardly wait…..
Jean Driskell saysAugust 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm
I’m so happy to have found your website Mary Carol. I have shopped and met you at the Atchison store several times but haven’t been there or your new store for quite some time. Always bought several things and got new ideas each time I was there. When I have company, and we have time, I take them to Atchison to Nell Hills and they love it.
Hope to visit during your open house weekend.
Cathy Mapes saysAugust 23, 2010 at 8:00 pm
I ‘ve had a small two-shelf bamboo and wicker wall unit for years that I purchased to hold a treasured few pieces of Haviland china my grandmother gave to me on my wedding day 42 years ago. None of the peices match and they were old when she gave them to me, but placed in that unique wicker wall shelf they stand out much more than they would have in a closed hutch.
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