Style Your Home With A Rattan Coffee Table
Rattan furniture was very commonplace mid last century in the immediate post war years, and like many styles and designs from this period, rattan has experienced a real revival in popularity in both commercial hospitality settings and for domestic interiors and outdoor living spaces.
What is rattan?
Rattan is a long-stemmed vine that looks a bit like bamboo. Rattan is often used for wicker furniture, so the two terms are frequently confused. Wicker is a technique used to weave plant-based materials together (not necessarily rattan) so some wicker furniture can be made of rattan, but some isn’t.
There are lots of different types of rattan which grow in different places mostly Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh and the Philippines. This is what gives rattan furniture an old colonial vibe as the furniture was popular during this period and migrated into Western Europe when visitors returned home.
A rattan coffee table can be made completely of rattan or have a tabletop with a glass insert or made of a complementary wood. If the tabletop is rattan, then it is best to always use a cloth or a tray for hot drinks as often time the surface can become very slightly uneven and also to protect the rattan from spillages.
Styling a rattan coffee table
Rattan by the very nature of the fact that it is woven furniture can be bulkier than coffee tables made from wood or glass. However, the advantage of rattan is that a rattan coffee table can be much lighter than other alternatives so it is portable for both indoor and outdoor use and, it can also double as a storage piece, handy for magazines and bits and pieces like remote controls.
There are numerous different designs and styles for a rattan coffee table plus a wide variety of rattan colours. Here are some ideas and inspiration to style your interior with a rattan coffee table.
- Rattan furniture can give a real boho or 1960s feel to a living space or conservatory, match a round retro rattan coffee table with light brown rattan chairs, deep plush sofas and lots of textiles
- Rattan furniture is light both in design and colour and is perfect for small spaces where conventional furniture is too bulky – a rattan coffee table with a couple of slimline rattan chairs can add to a compact living space without being too dominant
- Choose a dark rattan coffee table in a circular design with a solid wood top which fits perfectly in a small room or in a corner, a fully circular and solid rattan coffee table will show off the beautiful weave and make a feature of a functional piece
- A glass-topped rattan coffee table with legs can also have a rattan shelf below the tabletop, perfect for magazines and bits and pieces, choose light rattan for a cosy cottage look in the sitting room or for a large bedroom. This retro style also works well in a conservatory or open plan living space with large peacock or Emmanuelle chairs
- A rattan rectangular coffee table in dark brown or black with a wooden shelf and a glass top will give a modern and contemporary vibe to any interior, perfect with white or light-coloured furniture to add a touch of elegance and opulence
- A totally round woven rattan coffee table is the perfect addition to any space with multiple uses without being too space greedy
Which colour should you choose for your rattan coffee table?
The great thing about rattan is that it comes in numerous different colours, this plus the fact that it is a universal material means that it can match all types of soft furnishings, textiles and wooden furniture.
Rattan tends to come in three main colours of grey, black and brown with numerous different shades available within these three colour choices.
- Black rattan – black rattan gives a sharp and contemporary look and is popular with dining and hospitality outlets, a look that has now migrated into the home. An angular black rattan coffee table with a glass top looks beautiful with crisp white, cream or grey soft furnishings and is both stylish and classic, working for period and contemporary rooms
- Brown rattan – available in a variety of shades from deep chocolate which can look stunning in either an old house or a contemporary home to light honey browns which have a country vibe, brown is a natural colour and works well with other earth tones like blue, green and red. Some brown rattan is deliberately designed to weave lighter tones with darker browns to give a more rustic and varied finish, perfect for a cottage or a conservatory and especially for the garden if your rattan coffee table is synthetic and can go outdoors
- Grey rattan – streaked grey rattan has different grey tones within the weave and can give a surprisingly natural effect even synthetic rattan and is beautiful in interiors which feature white, silver and plenty of chrome
Faux rattan or the real thing?
Rattan furniture has become really popular both for the home and for commercial dining and hospitality settings so it’s hardly surprising that there are now lots of synthetic rattan products on the market. So, which is best, faux rattan or real rattan when it comes to choosing a rattan coffee table?
- Aesthetic appeal – purists say you can’t beat natural rattan, it has a warmth and an authenticity which is just not present with synthetic rattan products. Synthetic rattan can be almost too uniform in its texture and colour however, it can still be difficult to tell a synthetic rattan coffee table from one made of real rattan as much ultimately depends on the style and quality of the piece
- Weather resistance – if you intend to use your rattan coffee table outdoors or both inside and outside then synthetic rattan will withstand exposure to the elements far better than the real thing. Natural rattan does not survive prolonged soaking from the rain and also will not tolerate direct sunlight for long periods of time meaning a natural rattan coffee table may not even be a suitable choice for a conservatory or covered sundeck or patio area. Synthetic rattan is very resistant to the elements and designed to withstand both rain and sun so is the perfect choice if you want to have your rattan coffee table in a bright location in the home or you want to use it outside. Just bear in mind that cheaper faux rattan is made from plastics and will fade if continuously exposed to direct sunlight so if you are going to buy a synthetic rattan coffee table that will be exposed to the elements then buy a good quality faux rattan product rather than a cheaper alternative
- Durability – natural rattan furniture is exceptionally strong and durable for use in the home but is limited for the great outdoors unless it is very well protected and covered when not being used
- Care – both synthetic and natural rattan require minimal care particularly if your rattan coffee table is just for indoor use. If you want to use the table outside then synthetic rattan will withstand the weather better, relieving you of the task of looking after the rattan to keep it visually appealing
- Eco-friendly – due to the demand for natural rattan, it is not always the most eco-friendly choice unless the rattan for the furniture has been sourced from a sustainable plantation. Unsustainable harvesting leads to forest degradation and a loss of biodiversity. Also processing the rattan often involves the use of toxic chemicals which are bad for the environment as well as for the local population and workers. Synthetic or faux rattan does not necessarily offer a better option unless you choose products made from non-toxic, environmentally friendly and 100% recyclable fibres
- Cost – the difference in cost tends to refer more to the quality of the piece in terms of the materials used and its design rather than a clear contrast between real and faux rattan. An environmentally friendly product which is well made will always cost more than a mass produced, cheaper product made from plastic
Rattan is one of the most versatile of all materials for home interiors and is right on trend. A rattan coffee table will add a timeless look to any room with different styles and designs available plus a great variety of colour choices to suit contemporary and period settings. The great things about rattan products are that they are generally pretty lightweight so can easily be moved around the house even if the rattan coffee table has a wooden or glass top. Choose a faux rattan coffee table for the ultimate in flexibility for use inside the home and which you can also take outdoors for summer dining and entertaining or leave on a sundeck or covered patio. Functional, practical and uber stylish, a rattan coffee table can have multiple uses in your home.