Types of Wicker Furniture: Chairs, Dining Tables, Bed Sets, and More
From an outsider’s perspective, it’s easy to say that once you’ve seen one piece of wicker furniture, you’ve seen them all. However, you probably know better than that. Now that you’ve been introduced to the subtlety of craftsmanship present in wicker furniture, it’s time to learn all of the different varieties of furniture that can be produced using rattan and synthetic wicker.
If you want to know all there is to know about wicker furniture, it’s important to go through different types of furniture step-by-step in order to fully understand all of the possibilities present in this art form. We’ll also explore the different environments that are suitable for wicker furniture—everything from the great outdoors to the intimate setting of the bedroom, and everywhere in between.
It’s also important to remember that wicker furniture is not just limited to the home. Wicker seating in restaurants, for example, is one type of business use for wicker furniture. We’ll explore these specialty items in this section as well, being sure to hit on just about every type of wicker furniture under the sun. Each of these items we make ourselves at Wicker Warehouse.
Seating: Chairs, Couches, and More
Perhaps the most visible of all wicker furniture is the kind of furniture you’ll find in the living room. If you’re a guest in someone’s home, this is the furniture you’ll use. If you own wicker in your living room, you’ll likely spend a lot of time with this furniture.
Wicker furniture designed specifically for seating has to follow the process of creating a strong frame and integrating wicker designs around that frame. For seating, this usually means utilizing broom handle-sized rattan or (in the case of synthetic wicker) aluminum poles for the frame so that the furniture can handle the weight that will be placed on it.
A wicker chair is perhaps the most commonly-known item of furniture in the entire wicker world. It’s no wonder: these chairs are timeless, easy to use, and easy to make comfortable (especially with a soft cushion). Chairs come in all shapes and sizes and can be custom-designed to suit just about any specification. At Wicker Warehouse we produce stackable restaurant chairs as well as elaborate wicker chairs for use around the home. Let’s take a closer look at some different chair types.
- Stand-alone Chairs: Of course, just about any wicker chair can function as a “stand-alone” piece, but a specific type of chair is designed to stand alone. Yes, even stand-alone chairs can be used as part of a larger set. But even those chairs that are designed as part of a dining or living room set often function well as stand-alone chairs that can be used both indoors and outdoors (in the case of rattan chairs, on a protected porch).
- Rocking chairs: We produce a lot of rocking chairs at Wicker Warehouse because they’re a popular type of wicker piece. Many people like the association between wicker and traditional rocking chairs. Of course, the frames of these rocking chairs are vastly different than standard chairs, which means that the rattan will have to be properly shaped in order to achieve a smooth, symmetric rocking effect. A well-crafted rocking chair, however, will be easy to spot; you know it the instant you get in the chair and start rocking.
- Glider chairs: A “swivel” or glider chair is a piece of furniture that somewhat resembles a rocking chair—but doesn’t really. They swivel in more than one direction, unlike the rocking chair, and are usually a favorite in outdoor settings because of this activity.
- Chaise lounges: Long, wide, and flat, a Chaise Lounge is one of the best ways to relax near a pool or simply outdoors. They offer a lot of room and support for relaxing, which often means they’re capable of supporting the weight of two—a “lawn loveseat,” if you will.
- Swing chairs: A favorite of people who enjoy wicker furniture meant for the outdoors, swing chairs have to be well-crafted in order to support a lot of weight for a lifetime of use. There are generally two types of swing chairs: wicker swing chairs hung from a metal frame, usually meant to seat just one or maybe two, and porch swings, which can often seat two or three. These chairs typically come with cushions attached for maximum comfort, which makes them perfect for lounging with a book while enjoying the outdoor son.
- Ottomans: Most seating is focused on where you put your torso, but sometimes your feet need a rest too. Ottomans make a good accompaniment with both large furniture sets or stand-alone chairs. Having an Ottoman around to rest your feet upon is a great way to relax as well as to send a message to guests that you want them to relax as well. Typically, an Ottoman will come with a cushion that should match the chair it’s paired up with—this is not a problem when you buy an Ottoman as part of a larger seating set.
Couches and Sofas
There’s more to the world of seating, of course, than just chairs. Sometimes you want to lie down; other times you want to share your seating with other people. That’s where couches and sofas come in. A good wicker couch or sofa will be sturdily built, capable of handling more than one person’s weight, and will fit in with the décor and look of the other pieces that it might be paired with.
- Indoor Couches: Generally made from natural rattan, indoor couches are ideal pieces for a living room set, particularly if you want a “natural” look for your interior décor. Cushions are paramount here; a good cushion will make a good couch and a bad cushion might ruin an otherwise well-crafted piece of wicker furniture. So be vigilant in the way you select indoor couches. It’s also important to look for pieces that allow for easy cushion removal when the couch needs to be cleaned.
- Outdoor Couches and Sectionals: Large couches that seat a lot more than just two or three people are known as “sectionals.” Typically, these couches are so large that they are shaped in a right angle so as to keep everyone in the same basic group; otherwise you would have a couch that was too long and would probably not fit anywhere. Sectionals work well outdoors with Sunbrella fabric as ways to enjoy a barbecue without having everyone sit on a folding chair. Many sectionals often feature wood built into the frame to ensure it can hold a lot of weight and that right angles are maintained.
- Loveseats: A smaller couch that fits only two people is usually known as a “loveseat” because it pairs one couple together. Loveseats can be used as feature pieces in your home, however, if you don’t anticipate a lot of guests. Loveseats are crafted much in the same way as traditional couches, though they will likely not have to support as much weight as a sectional, so it’s easy to find loveseats made entirely from rattan.
Benches and Stools
Finally, there is specialty seating designs for one person at a time: benches and stools. Benches and stools can be integral to pulling a room together, or even two rooms together—especially when a kitchen counter acts as a border between a living room and a kitchen. Wicker benches are also ideal for moving inside or outside; a wicker bench looks like a fit just about anywhere that it’s placed! Wicker benches and stools are as sturdy as anything else you’ll find out there, and lightweight rattan or synthetic wicker makes them easy to move when you need to clear them out.
- Benches: Perhaps the most versatile of all wicker furniture, wicker benches have the advantage of looking natural in just about any environment. They don’t look out of place in an office waiting room setting, nor do they look out of place sitting outside on your porch or even in your yard near a garden. Benches will include both wicker rattan and pole rattan in order to support the weight of those who sit upon it, which sometimes means supporting the weight of two or more people.
- Stools: Wicker stools work well with wooden bar countertops, but they can be utilized for any number of purposes. They are usually simple pieces with a four-legged rattan pole frame with a wicker weave on top that serves as a comfortable, flexible seat. Much of the subtle design work that goes into these stools actually takes place in the legs, where various arches and connections and crossing patterns can make the stools stand out from the rest of your pieces
Tables and Desks
We just got done covering some of the different types of wicker tables available, but considering how important tables are to the world of furniture, they also deserve a section all their own. There are endless amounts of shapes, sizes, and varieties available for tables. Wicker dining tables, wicker coffee tables, wicker restaurant tables—the list goes on and on. Selecting a wicker table for yourself will mean matching the appropriate wicker table to the room and use it’s best suited for.
Standard Tables and Desks
The most common type of table is obvious: a table that is meant to have something put on it, usually in an active sense. We dine on tables, we write on tables, we plop our mail down on tables—they should be sturdy enough to handle our daily routine and attractive enough to draw compliments from our guests.
- Writing Tables: Writing tables made out of wicker have the distinct advantage of being light and easy to move. Usually writing tables are small to some extent, but they’re not always easy to pick up because of their weight. Wicker writing tables, on the other hand, can easily be moved throughout a room, giving them a distinct advantage over writing tables made from heavier substances like wood. Wicker desks can also be used much in the same way, and are also advantageous thanks to their lightweight nature
- Dining Tables: Perhaps the most common table available is the dining table. Dining tables come in all shapes and sizes. You can usually buy dining tables as part of larger dining sets, because it’s important to match the chairs used for a dining table along with the design of the dining table in order to hold a room together aesthetically. Unlike many other types of wicker furniture, dining tables are somewhat unique in that they’ll often prominently feature pole rattan rather than wicker rattan. This gives them not only their sturdy structure but a particularly sturdy look even though the dining tables made from rattan, again, will be much lighter than those made from wood.
- Desks: The chief challenge in crafting a desk from wicker is to make sure that the desk has storage space. This is usually accomplished through shelves underneath the top surface of the desk, although a variety of different designs are usually available. Constructing a desk entirely out of rattan can be a little tricky, which is why the frame must be specially-made to suit the needs and specifications of a desk. Wicker desks do, however, offer all of the storage space and “amenities” of any other furniture desk; for example, you can buy wicker desks that also feature pull-out keyboard spaces. Like many tables, desks often come as part of a set with similarly-looking wicker chairs.
- TV Stands: These days, television sets are lighter than they used to be, so TV stands don’t need to be the towering pieces of lumber they once were. Wicker works just find to hold up television sets in the 21st century, but TV stands can do more than simply that—they can also be built with rattan shelves attached right in for various purposes such as including DVDs near the TV or storing the remote control.
End Tables and Coffee Tables
Tables that we use very often but don’t often think about include end tables and coffee tables. These are two of the most common tables for use around the home because they feature prominently in most wicker living room furniture sets; really, no living room set is complete without at least one end table and/or coffee table.
- End Tables: Like any other wicker piece, end tables can come in an endless amount of shapes and sizes. Typically the craftsmanship will include a shelf for the end table, particularly if the end table is designed to sit next to your bed. An end table should not take up too much space in the room—just enough to hold a lamp, some books, and otherwise look pretty.
- Coffee Tables: As you’re probably already aware, coffee tables are essentially a furniture category in and of themselves. They can be found in endless varieties, even if you’re just looking for wicker coffee tables! Some wicker coffee tables feature a wooden top; others make room for glass. The options are endless, of course. However, it’s usually best to go with a coffee table that makes sense within the context of the room that it will be sitting in. Coffee tables can be great for moving indoors and outdoors, too, depending on how heavy they are. Mostly wicker coffee tables can be moved out on the porch for use on hot summer days.
- Cocktail Tables: Typically identified by the glass surface they include, wicker cocktail tables are ideal settings to place your glasses of wine when hosting company. They’re easy to move, which means you can transport them outside or onto the porch on a summer’s day. Typically, the frames of cocktail tables will include a lower surface, as well, that is often useful for storing books, magazines, gadgets, and just about anything else you typically use during a visit to the living room.
- Serving Carts: Imagine a cocktail table on wheels and you have a serving cart. The wheels are the major addition to the wicker frame here, although it’s important to note that most wicker serving carts will use glass as their surface(s). Adding a glass surface to wicker furniture gives it a predictable, even surface that doesn’t distract from the wicker’s natural attractiveness.
In the Bedroom
We’ve covered a lot of wicker furniture thus far and we haven’t even gotten to one place where furniture is paramount: the bedroom. As you already know, a good bed can make or break a room. Other items like vanities are also important for the creature comforts that you expect just a few seconds away from where you sleep – and where you wake up.
Many items in the bedroom are lined with wood because of the need for ninety-degree angles and weight support. However, they may still be lighter weight than common wood furniture because they rely on wood far less.
Beds and Bed Collections
Like most furniture, beds often don’t come alone but rather as part of an entire bed collection. Since the bed is the centerpiece of the entire bedroom, it’s important that it match the other furniture that’s present, as well.
- Traditional Beds: A traditional bedroom set made out of wicker has a “traditional” look, but it’s still somewhat unconventional. Typically, beds made out of wicker give the entire room a more rustic, Victorian look – like viewing a bedroom in a beach house. Wicker beds are typically lined with wood to ensure they can endure the stress of more than one person’s body weight as well as the normal wear and tear that happen to beds—especially children jumping on them. A wicker bed will still be able to house regular bed mattresses.
- Single Beds: At Wicker Warehouse, we often include these in our Montego Bay collections. Single beds and bed sets operate on the same principles as wicker traditional beds except the frames are typically smaller. These are the beds best suited for children. They often come with other bedroom furniture ranging from lamp stands to desks and book shelves.
There’s a lot to store in the bedroom. You have to store your clothes, for starters. You also have to store a number of items that you might not use every day—anything ranging from old books to important documents that you don’t need to access regularly. It’s important that you have wicker bedroom storage that works just as well as wood storage furniture—offering the same quality of support and organization.
- Dressers: The large surface area of a dresser—including both its top and its shelves—allows for a lot of wicker weaving down the sides. This makes a wicker dresser a particular favorite of those who are partial to wicker weaving. And since so many wooden dressers are heavier than wicker dressers (even though wicker dresses can use wood for the frames), you still have the advantage of owning a dresser that will be easier to move.
- Vanities: A good wicker vanity can make the entire bedroom look like something out of a novel. Typically, a wicker vanity will be sold as a set with a wicker bench-style seat that is lined with a cushion for optimal comfort. These vanities include mirrors that are stitched to the vanity side but also feature a considerable amount of exterior wicker weaving. Most vanities include a small shelf in the center for storing common household items like jewelry and makeup.
- Armoires/Wardrobes: Armoires and wardrobes are common bedroom furniture for most people, but most people tend to opt for heavy, mostly wooden-based furniture. Like dressers, armoires and wardrobes are much lighter, easier to move, and feature just as much storage space as their mostly-wooden counterparts. It’s easy to store clothes in armoires and wardrobes—and move it inside the closet if you need to make more space in your bedroom.
Near the Bed
If you’re like ma lot of people, you’ll spend some time in your bed each night before going to sleep. This means that you’ll have to have high-quality wicker furniture near where you rest, as well.
- Night Stands: Essentially, these are end tables for use around the bed. A wicker night stand at Wicker Warehouse generally features two shelves on the inside and a glass surface on the top so that any drinks you set down will be perfectly balanced. You can also balance a lamp on these night stands for easy access to shutting off the lights when you’re ready to go to bed.
- Headboards: One of the major advantages of using a wicker bed, the headboard is an opportunity for a craftsman to really show off their style. A variety of wicker headboards are available in an endless array of designs. Another advantage to the wicker headboard? It won’t hurt if you ever accidentally smack your head against it thanks to the “give” most wicker weaves have.
Outdoor Wicker Furniture
Although much of the furniture you’ve already been reading about is just as suitable for the outdoors as it is for indoor use, there are specific types of wicker furniture that don’t only thrive outside, but are built to be outside. Typically, this is the kind of furniture that you’ll want to be made with synthetic wicker, as you’ll likely leave this furniture outdoors on a regular basis.
- Bar Height Tables: These pieces make excellent places to socialize. A wicker bar height table will typically feature a glass surface so that drinks will be held with perfect balance. Much of the interior of the table is hollow, with an emphasis on curved pole rattan that provides a lot of vertical support. These tables typically come in sets with high bar stools or high wicker chairs. Although these bar tables can be used indoors, they’re usually better suited on a porch or outside.
- Bistro Chairs: A wicker bistro chair is the wicker equivalent to the type of stackable plastic chair most people are used to trotting out whenever they have a party outdoors. These chairs are very lightweight because they’re meant to be moved—and since they’re already made out of synthetic wicker, you can practically throw them around. Light pole rattan provides the legs and structure for these seats while a wicker weaving pattern provides the bottom and back.
- Plant stands: Plant stands are truly a wicker hybrid: they work just as well indoors as they do outdoors. With synthetic plant stands, you can easily move your plants around, which makes them particularly suited for gardening and landscaping. Many people will leave their synthetic wicker plant stands under their porch and near doorways, however.
- Outdoor dining sets: Dining sets outdoors are so popular that they are specially made to suit porches and a variety of other outdoor environments. These can be lightweight since they typically won’t require the sturdiness of indoor dining sets, allowing these wicker items to be foldable. At Wicker Warehouse, the dining sets will include cushioned chairs, as well—how many chairs depends on the individual dining set. The dining sets are made with the aluminum/resin combination so common in outdoor synthetic wicker furniture items.
- Storage trunks: Storage is as important outdoors as it is indoors. Outdoor storage trunks are built on right angles to provide maximum storage space while the synthetic wicker weaving keeps your items protected. Storing outdoor cushions, hoses, swimming pool items, and all sorts of outdoor tools can be done in these large storage trunks. Made out of aluminum frames that are heavier—allowing them not to blow easily in the wind – these storage trunks can be left just about anywhere on your property and hold their position.
- “Conversation Sets.” Somewhat similar to outdoor dining sets, conversation sets include a table and chairs built for outdoor use. The difference here is that the conversation set includes a smaller glass-surface table that is more ideal for holding drinks and casual food – or perhaps even a meal – keeping people closer together and keeping the atmosphere somewhat casual. These sets make a great place to enjoy an appetizer before a meal, and the synthetic wicker allows you to keep these conversation sets outdoors without worrying too much about what is happening to them.
- Chaises: Long, loungey chairs or a couch built for one—it’s hard to decide how to describe an outdoor chaise, but they’re certainly ideal wicker furniture pieces for lounging outdoors and near swimming pools. Soft, thick cushions help provide the most possible comfort while synthetic wicker and strong fabrics keep them resistant to the sun – and they tend to get a lot of it.
Specialty and Other Items
Wicker is so versatile in creating furniture that it helps create some items that defy categorization. In this section, we’ll take a few looks at these “specialty items” that don’t really fit into any specific one of the categories above, but still warrant mentioning.
- Hanging Lamps: A hanging “swag” lamp is a prime example of a wicker piece that defies categorization: it looks completely natural in a wide range of settings, but in and of itself stands as a unique piece. These lamps can be had in a variety of colors in order to suit different design needs, but require an indoors environment to truly thrive and do their best lighting.
- Etageres and Floor Shelves: A perfect way to subtly store anything from vases to books, wicker etageres make a great mobile, lightweight method of storing just about anything you want out in the open. They’re handy to have around in just about any indoor room you have. Etageres will usually feature three woven wicker surfaces though they really look like they carry only two spaces.
- Screens: A screen or room divider should be lightweight and attractive. That, of course, suits the description of wicker furniture to a T, which is why wicker screens are so effective. They easily stand firm with their solid pole rattan frames but bear almost no weight because of the wicker weave that comprises the rest of the screen. These are built to be easy to fold for easy storage when not in use.
- Restaurant and Café Chairs: These aren’t typical purchases for most homeowners, but they still play a vital role for many people. These chairs are lightweight, making them easy to pull out from under a table, and easy to stack, which is important if you’re buying a lot of chairs for restaurant use. Caribbean style chairs are additional stack-able chairs with a little added sturdiness—they work well on porches as well as when you need some extra chairs indoors.
- Waste baskets: The history of wicker goes back to basket weaving in the fertile crescent; waste baskets are a throwback to those times. The technology, however, has improved somewhat. Now many wicker waste baskets will include heavier pole rattan for larger, stronger frames. These can hold many of today’s larger garbage bags. Smaller additions work better for bathroom waste baskets.
- Hampers: Similar in style to waste baskets, wicker hampers also employ a sturdy skeleton of rattan in order to stay upright and vertical no matter what you throw at it. However, because hampers are lightweight, they’re ideal for carrying to and from the laundry room, even if your hamper is in a vastly different area of the house.
- Outdoor furniture covers: We’ll talk more about outdoor furniture covers in the section on maintaining your wicker furniture, but it’s worth mentioning that it’s important to buy outdoor furniture covers even if you have synthetic furniture outside. These covers can remove a lot of the typical wear and tear that the environment places on whatever you leave outside, giving you more life in your wicker furniture—which means less trips to the wicker furniture outlet. Typically these covers are made of vinyl and formed to fit a specific type of furniture, though large enough covers can be versatile enough to cover just about any type of outdoor wicker furniture piece.
Although we didn’t explain in detail each and every piece of wicker furniture available today, you should have a good idea of the versatility that wicker and rattan have to offer. They are capable of producing furniture for a variety of needs. Some wicker is utilitarian while other wicker furniture serves a more aesthetic purpose. Determining which rattan furniture best suits your own needs will be up to you.
Once you’ve made a purchase, however, it will then be up to you to figure out how to maintain that furniture for a long, long time—that way you can get the most for your investment. In the next section, “Maintenance 101,” we’ll look at ways to preserve wicker and rattan both indoors and outdoors.