How to Pick Fabrics for Your Furniture

 

So you have just found a fantastic new wicker furniture set and you are in love with it. You just need a little hand selecting a fabric that works with the furniture style and blends with your decor. Thankfully, there are literally hundreds of different fabrics you can choose from to make your new wicker furniture all you want it to be. We have developed a list of 3 quick tips to help you choose the right fabrics to help you make your furniture absolutely fabulous.

1. Get a color wheel. Color wheels are the perfect tool to help you match your fabric with your style. Instead of guessing what color will go best with the rest of your design style, bring your color wheel and match it accordingly. Also, don’t forget to match the color of your wicker before you start your search for fabric. This will give you a better idea of what to look for when you are looking for fabric. For more information make sure to check out the Home and Garden Television Color Wheel Primer.

2. Incorporate your personality and interests. In other words, if you are hoping to create a tropical atmosphere then use a pattern that has bamboo or is reminiscent of the beach in some way. Remember to stick with your theme and try contrasting patterns that look great against the color backdrop of your wicker. The most important thing is to play off your own personal tastes and style.

3. Consider climate. Before you make any decision on fabric first consider whether your furniture will be placed indoors or outdoors. For obvious reasons this is highly important and directly effects the life of your furniture and fabric. Fortunately, there are hundreds of different all-weather fabric options for you to pick from so don’t let this dramatically influence your final decision. In the end wicker is amazing for its ability to be placed both indoors and outdoors and for its unique style selections. Fabric is the icing on the cake when it comes to wicker, and if you incorporate these tips in your search for the perfect fabric you will surely find what you are looking for!

Fun Facts about Wicker Furniture

The Humble Beginnings of Wicker and Modern Spotlight in TV!

Wicker products have been an established design element in furniture long before the material became trendy. The material used in wicker furniture varies a bit, but is based on natural fibers such as rattan that is woven into a sturdy support structure. The unique composition allows for not only pleasing designs, but a semi-rigid structure. The materials are eco-friendly and renewable, making them an ideal choice for conscientious buyers.

A Historical Recording of Wicker

The first indications of wicker furniture being used appear in the records of the ancient Egyptians. The materials were light and available, and with the flexible nature of the wood, allowed for a great variety in styles. Murals found on tomb wall show pharaohs perched on wicker thrones, surrounded by court members seated in their own stylized settings.

Another record appears on the remaining wall painting of Pompeii, where wicker was quite prevalent in both home and business models. Images depict citizens of the ancient city lounging around sumptuous meals, enjoying the comfort of their settees and sturdiness of their tables. 

Flash Forward to Wicker Furniture in America

With the coming of the 20th century, Americans were utilizing wicker furniture as a mainstay of outdoor patio ensembles. The material held up against the elements just as well as cat iron, and was cheaper to acquire. Also, the flexibility of the material continued to dazzle with an endless selection of designs. American furniture companies were able to quickly adjust their designs based on common trends as well as advancements on manufacturing techniques. Wood products being used in furniture production were increasingly being improved for strength, flexibility, and resistance to the elements. In doing so, the industry helped to move wicker designs indoors during the 1940s and 50s.

Wicker Furniture in Modern Television!

A fun fact and trend includes the use of wicker furniture in your favorite television shows. HBO is the perfect example when their television shows use both modern and traditional styles of wicker in scenes. Above we have Kenny Powers enjoying his new pool and a couple sitting on an outdoor wicker sofa set in sage green. Eastbound and Down showcases modern wicker furnishings in many outdoor scenes and interior decor environments.

HBO’s True Detective displays plenty of wicker chairs and porch furniture used in 1990’s Louisiana decor. We enjoyed the special touch of adding authentic details from all aspects of these peoples lives. The wicker basket was a very important part of the religious service for donations to the church, people would give even if they had very little according to Rust Cohle.

The Sopranos certainly should not be a surprise in the wicker showcase category. Fans of the show will recall many conversations with Tony Soprano joking about an alternate lifestyle where he would be a retailer of patio furniture instead of a mob boss. Taking place in New Jersey, this state certainly enjoys the use of woven wicker in their lives.

Above we see Uncle Junior on vacation in Boca Raton Florida with the classic white wash wicker headboard enjoying champagne with a lady friend!

Keep your eyes open as there are many opportunities where wicker will appear in your favorite television shows. We can go on and on of other popular shows such as Breaking Bad, Modern Family, Boardwalk Empire that have a love for wicker furniture. That’s the fun about watching and being rewarded with a unique decor environment, pay attention and comment below with your favorite scenes of wicker!

The Evolution of Wicker Furniture Design

Infographic showcasing periods of wicker and rattan furniture styles.

 

Entering a new year often puts us into a mode to evaluate our lives. We look to improve our health, our looks, and eliminate bad habits. Wicker Paradise thought it would be a great idea to go back to the roots of wicker furniture design and explore the home decor styles from the beginning. You can decorate your home with any type of furniture after all, so let’s explore why we especially love woven wicker and rattan.

The Evolution of Wicker Furniture Design – An infographic by the team at Wicker Paradise

The very beginning allows us to track woven furnishings to ancient Egypt. Pharaohs including Tutankhamen were buried with wicker. It was a way to celebrate their lives with beautifully handcrafted treasures that they would take with them for eternity.

This style of wicker still warms the hearts of many with its charm. Nineteenth century’s Victorian era in England allowed wicker to be an important and popular element for furniture use. Victorians believed that the raw wicker form was far more sanitary for furniture, as it tended to collect much less dust than upholstered options. A modern day tip for easily removing dust and debris off of wicker furniture is to simply use the attachments on your vacuum to suck them right up.

United States wicker styles made its debut when Cyrus Wakefield began constructing his brand of wicker in the 1850s. Wakefield’s company later merged with the Heywood Chair Manufacturing Company to form Heywood Wakefield. This business deal was big news, later becoming known as one of the oldest and most well known wicker manufacturers. Think of what your Grandmother owned to give you an idea of the classics that Heywood Wakefield produced.

Furnishings made of wicker began to fall in the public eye by the early 1900’s. This all changed when Marshal B. Lloyd began producing wicker furniture from synthetic materials in more simplistic patterns. This greatly reduced the costs of production and lowered prices of this new style of loom wicker. Loom wicker was extremely popular in furnishings such as baby carriages, rockers and nightstands. You can find loom outdoor wicker furniturewhich has been updated and popular today for the porches and sun rooms.

Casual style caught on with Florida location based TV shows such as “Miami Vice” and “The Golden Girls.”

Rattan classics like fan arm chairs used on the set of The Golden Girls spiked the demand for a new type of home decor option. This sparked an era of tropical rattan styles. Furniture decorated with exotic prints to make you feel like you were on a vacation.

Present day wicker furniture is available in both contemporary styles and traditional styles. Patio wicker chairs and outdoor sofas are reinforced with frames made out of aluminum for durability advantages. The synthetic wicker finish is coated with a UV and weather-resistant material that keeps your furniture in pristine condition. With modern technologies at it’s best, make sure to take advantage of great quality fabrics such as Sunbrella to enjoy your wicker even in the most brutal climates. The age of contemporary, closed weave designs made for using all year round have become the new standard of what people like most about wicker furniture today!

Celebrate style and share this page today!

Wicker Furniture History

What is wicker furniture and why is wicker still used today?

Wicker furniture may come in many forms, but it has been a piece of living and bed rooms for centuries of human history. The ancient Egyptians crafter chairs and tables out of it, while the Romans used it for sofas and baskets. It was an important part of Victorian era furnishings, and lasted into the early 1900s where it cemented its own vintage style. Wicker is useful anywhere in the house, looking attractive inside the sitting room and outside on the patio. Traditional wicker is known for its strength, durability, beauty, and comfort. The wicker fibers are typically made from cane cores, rattan stalks, willow switches, reed, sea grass, banana leaf, or bamboo. Today, alternative materials are sometimes woven into the materials to help increase strength. It requires maintenance to uphold its beauty and durability. Synthetic wicker furniture design is often paper wrapped in high tensile wire, vinyl or resin to reinforce and weatherize the materials. Synthetic materials can stand up to hard rain and snowfall. Some recent versions even include aluminum in the frame to support more weight.

It has been in use since the days of Ancient Egypt at which time it was made of reed and swamp grass. Middle class families loved the material because they could only afford a few quality pieces, and wicker tables last forever. Wealthier people, such as the pharaohs, would keep even more keepsakes like chests, wig boxes, baskets, tables, and chairs. Even shields of Egyptian soldiers were found to have contained the material. Egypt passed wicker to Rome where baskets were used and furniture was made. That use grew into Europe as the Roman conquests spread, and the material quickly became common in England, Spain, and Portugal. Rattan began to see use in the modernizing world as international sea traders came back from Southeast Asia, where the weed grows prevalently. Rattan was a stronger material, and its popularity grew in the 1800’s as word spread that the material was more sanitary than upholstered furniture. It was also less expensive and heavily resistant to the elements. It was up to Victorian furniture makers to shape it into something attractive, and that became main stream during the mid 1800s.

Cyrus Wakefield popularized the use of rattan when he began selling it off of ships docked at Boston’s many ports. The ships would use the material as light weight packaging, capable of keeping crates together. He sold the rattan, among other scavenged items, from the ports to make money as a “jobber” or small merchant. He rose to prominence as one of America’s first rattan furniture makers during the 1860s, after he had married the daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate. Through the connections that his in-laws brought in their shipping business, Wakefield was able to import rattan from China. His company became an industry leader, later merging with the Heywood Chair Manufacturing Company and created Heywood Wakefield of Gardner, Massachusetts. The company came to be known worldwide and is still one of the leading manufacturers of rattan furniture.

Rattan is made from Calamus, which is a type of palm that climbs. The entire plant is used to make rattan, beginning with the cane. Cane is the material created when rattan’s outer skin is removed and cut into thin strips. Cane is used for weaving seats or wrapping joints, and it’s known for a glossy finish. Kubu is rattan cane which is packed in wet clay and allowed to season, and it is exceptionally strong. Bamboo resembles rattan and is often mistaken for it, while willow or twig is used mostly for baskets. Banana Leaf is used for furniture. It is dried, twisted, and braided into rope which is woven over a frame.

The history of outdoor wicker furniture or origins of this technological advancement dates back fairly recently. Wicker and rattan continue to be a top choices used in porches, patios, bedrooms and sunrooms.

Wicker furniture history informs these designs, which is part of the vintage charm that wicker an rattan hold. Designs of woven wicker furniture are still offered in traditional patterns, but wicker is sold in contemporary styles too. The long history of wicker furniture shows us that wicker will always be in our hearts and favored among designers, a staple of patio furniture preference and interior design must haves!

 

Wicker Furniture Care Guide

Purchasing a new set of wicker patio furniture can be as exciting as getting a new car. The thrill and experience is special. We want our car and furniture looking good so we are always searching for ways to keep it as perfect as the day we first purchased it! We hope you put our collection of caring for your wicker furniture tips to great use.

Guidelines to assist you:

  • Always remember natural wicker & rattan furniture has a different set of cleaning rules than outdoor wicker patio furniture. Since the outdoor wicker material provides all weather protection, this allows you to take full advantage of the most effective cleaning procedures.
  • Go for simple spot cleaning methods over the “instant quick fix” products. You will thank us later!

  • Clean your wicker furniturewith a mild detergent using water solution, soft cloth or soft bristle brush and rinse it down with water. Natural rattan loves moisture, so if you take a damp cloth and rub the natural wicker & rattan, this will strengthen the frame. You can do this as often as you would like, we suggest every 3-4 months. Also see the wicker furniture care guide by Michigan State University.
  • If your wicker is made of synthetic fibers, you can take out your favorite hose attachment and apply more pressure, clean that outdoor wicker effectively!
  • Prepare your cushions before you begin by brushing off any loose dirt. Next, spot clean with mild soap and water solution. It’s perfect to use a dish soap detergent like Dawn or Palmolive. Proceed to rinse with water, open all the zippers and place cushions upside down to accelerate the drying process.
  • Use vacuum attachments to get in between the woven wicker and collect excess dust and debris. A duster will also do the job.
  • Make sure to stay away from harsh cleaning solutions on your cushions as they could result in irreversible damaging effects. We would love to sell you new replacement cushions any time you wish to renew the look of your furniture. But if all you need is a little tender love and care on your existing fabric, it makes sense to go slow with tried and true methods of cleaning with low risk.

For total outdoor use, select Sunbrella fabrics for maximum durability and colorfastness. This will make your job of cleaning your cushions much easier. Especially since Sunbrella offers a stain chart, a document that offers the right way to treat certain kind of stains. This is amazing but just remember to only use these instructions on Sunbrella fabrics.

Watch this amazing video on the amazing power of using Sunbrella fabric on your cushions!

  • We highly recommend using protective covers to keep your furniture in pristine condition and preserve the life of your cushions. Your wicker furnitureis an investment in your home decor, our top pick are furniture covers by Koveroos. Make sure to maximize the lifespan and aesthetic freshness of your pieces.
  • During the cold weather you can leave your furniture in your outdoor living space by using protective covers for peace of mind.
  • A great tip before storing your furniture: wash both the frames and the cushions while allowing plenty of time for surfaces to be completely dry.
  • If you prefer to store your furniture inside, for example in a garage, we recommend covering the frames and wrapping the cushions in clear plastic bags. Darkness is the host for mold and mildew to grow in, so even though your heavy duty black garbage bags are a convenient option, clear plastic is the better storage solution by keeping away dirt and allowing light to pass through.

Simple maintenance and cleaning during the off-season can make using your furniture a pleasurable experience and more inviting come the future celebrations and family gatherings.

Share this page and enjoy some other great articles on how to take care of your wicker furniture:

 

Bonus: Fabric Cleaning Tips

  • Wicker Paradise recommends that you read this section to guide you when choosing fabric for your wicker furniture or replacement cushions. Aside from the many colors of the spectrum to choose from there are certain fabrics that will perform better than others in certain conditions.
  • If your room or area is prone to mildew we highly recommend the use of Sunbrella outdoor fabrics. A solution dyed acrylic fabric not only provides maximum protection from fading but also provides a way to remove mildew if your cushions become molded. Visit Sunbrella.com for instructions on how to remove mildew. Printed fabrics do not offer you that option (since any amount of bleach will remove the color of the print).
  • To prevent mildew we recommend cleaning your cushions on a weekly basis with a soft brush to remove dirt and grime. Also your cushions should be washed on a regular basis using a mild soap and water solution, work the solution into the cushions with a soft bristle brush, hose down with water, wring out the excess water by hand and allow your cushions to air dry in the sun with the zippers open and the zipper facing down.
  • If your area is prone to the growth of mold you can take a few precautions other than keeping your cushions or furniture clean. If possible add a fan to the room or area. The circulation of air in hot, humid climates will retard the growth of mold. Also run a night light in the room or area since mold and mildew grow best in the dark.
  • If your room or area is in direct sun for many hours a day, not all outdoor fabric perform the same. Printed outdoor fabrics are subject to fading. When the outer layer of the fabric fades on a printed fabric there is no color beyond that outer layer. Solution dyed acrylics resist fading, when the outer layer fades the successive layers retain their color.