Nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als make a home invit­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - MARY CAROL GARRITY Tri­bune News Ser­vice

In­te­rior spa­ces that are too fussy make me un­com­fort­able.

I think when you re­ally live in a home, there needs to be a bit of dis­or­der. A messy stack of books next to your read­ing chair in the liv­ing room floor. A cat asleep on the du­vet at the bot­tom of your bed. A piece of fur­ni­ture with a story to tell, like a chest with chip­ping paint or an ot­toman up­hol­stered in a worn old rug.

Maybe that’s why I love to weave nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als into my home. They pro­vide Mother Na­ture’s restora­tive pal­ette of cream, tan and brown; they’re beau­ti­fully im­per­fect and a won­der­ful back­drop for more re­fined trea­sures you want to spot­light.

Some­times peo­ple get con­fused about the dif­fer­ence be­tween wicker and rat­tan. The quick an­swer is that wicker is not a ma­te­rial, but an an­cient tech­nique for weav­ing nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als like wil­low, rat­tan and bam­boo into fur­ni­ture or bas­kets or what­ever. Wicker fur­ni­ture can be made out of any sort of nat­u­ral or syn­thetic ma­te­rial.

Rat­tan, a vine that grows in the shape of a pole about three inches in di­am­e­ter, is a strong wood and can be used to con­struct fur­ni­ture, from out­door chairs to hutches and bed frames. Bam­boo looks sim­i­lar but has a hol­low core so is not as strong and durable as rat­tan.

I love them both. They are at home any­where, from a sea­side cot­tage to a moun­tain lodge, in for­mal spa­ces and in those that are more re­laxed. Woven wooden blinds also add de­li­cious tex­ture to a room. When she was dec­o­rat­ing her lit­tle cot­tage in Atchi­son, my friend Cyn­thia used bam­boo shades to bring a bit of rus­tic charm to the spa­ces. I like how they con­trast with the more for­mal fur­nish­ings in the room.

I adore lovely old ori­en­tal rugs and have a patch­work quilt of them in my home. But un­derneath it all, nat­u­ral fi­bre rugs like sisal or sea grass are a must-have. They wear like iron, are for­giv­ing when stained and pro­vide a lovely base for a room. A com­mon mis­take peo­ple make when buy­ing area rugs is get­ting one that’s too small for the space. Un­der­stand­able when you con­sider how much a re­ally good rug costs. But nat­u­ral fi­bre rugs are so af­ford­able, you can use them to cover the en­tire room with­out break­ing the bank.


We added a stack of wicker suit­cases, above, to build a side ta­ble in our study, adding to the earthy warmth of this snug­gly room. At right, a charm­ing rat­tan chair.


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