April 14, 2015


I just returned from a week in the tropics and, although I was on vacation, I confess my mind drifted off to decorating. I love large plants and all things wicker, rattan and bamboo, so I think I could decorate a warm weather casita blindfolded with one arm tied behind my back. It may seem a strange confession for someone based in New York City. Maybe I should say I love black leather? The truth is, I kinda love it all - which is probably why I ended up starting an interiors business. Still, my soft spot for rattan, wicker and bamboo seems to make it's way into most of my projects and that is probably because it's versatility extends way beyond the tropics. It even goes with black leather - as seen above with the rattan stool/side table in our East Village project. The wicker baskets on the shelves behind add texture and storage, helping to keep clutter out of sight.

In the bedroom of our East Village project (a.k.a. my home) things go a little more feminine and breezy. Here the wicker basket and bamboo table help warm up the predominantly white space and provide texture to the room.

Our Upper West Side project has a more classic and traditional vibe. We added the Albini rattan ottoman seen tucked under the raw wood console along with a couple of other small round tables to help break up the boxy, rectangular shapes of the side and coffee tables (out of view) in the living area on the left. It adds a sculptural element to the room while being functional as an ottoman or lightweight occasional seat during entertaining.

The mandate for the bedroom in our Brooklyn Heights project was a calm and relaxed feeling. I mixed blues and greens against soothing gray walls, but added warmth with an antique wood dresser and this wonderfully textural woven headboard - which I guess is technically not rattan, bamboo or wicker (!!) but probably seagrass, still, it is in the family ; ) This client has roots in Jamaica and Florida, so it is a bit of a tropical nod, but we also mixed in some wood, brass and lucite. We used blues and greens throughout the apartment, so it flows well, but in the living space they become more masculine, modern and bohemian in flavor. I hope to share more on this project soon - here is a little sneak peek into the office . . .

Surprise - vintage bamboo chairs. The ikat on the cushions is from Robert Allen and the indigo rag rug is from Land of Nod - sometimes finding a good, inexpensive 6 x 9 rug is a challenge and these rag rugs really came to the rescue for me twice now. But back to the chairs, these chairs really make the room and counterbalance the more modern clean white lines going on. They were a great Craigslist find and just kicked things up a notch, but more on this later. Moving on to Long Island City.

Another project I will be sharing more of soon is this bachelor pad. It had a nice view of the city and the Pepsi Cola sign, so I thought these stretched out soda bottles would make good masculine vases for some man flowers. This apartment is fairly simple and modern without a lot of clutter, so I warmed things up a touch with kilims, cow hide and these bamboo and woven boxes for stashing small items on the dresser.

Back in Manhattan at our Inwood project, this wicker rocker is not the first thing you would think of when your decorator says, "Let's put a wicker chair in the living room." For the cat that rules this roost, it just looks like a giant scratch toy, so usually there is a long sheepskin in it, which provides some cushion and prevents it from being clawed to a pulp, but I used the sheepskin to soften the leather dining bench for the photos. I also am a bit tired of seeing sheepskin tossed on top of everything - as much as I am guilty of it. I actually have some good reasons where you see it throughout my portfolio, so maybe I will write about that in the future . . . "Sheepskin - why?" or "Sheepskin - do's and dont's". Anyway, I also wanted the shape and texture of the chair to be present in the photos, so I just used a pillow for this shot.

Finally, over in Jersey at our South Orange project, which we will be photographing very soon (can't wait!!!) is another rocker. This one still has modern lines, but is a little more bohemian in flavor - and, yes, that is a rumpled up sheepskin in the seat. It was their son's when he was a baby, so we tossed it in when the rocker arrived, a proper cushion has since been ordered. This is the sun room and this is the view from the foyer. The chair just looks like a big sculpture framed by the doorway. There is something so inviting about a rocker. There is also a rattan sofa in the room, but we mixed in other finishes and styles from modern to tribal to chinoiserie to keep it interesting. Oh, and I almost forgot the bamboo blinds, often a favorite option for windows.

As much as tropical breezes might blow through your mind when you think of rattan, wicker or bamboo, I think these examples show how easily it can be incorporated into a variety of rooms. I may not do a ton of it in one room, but I like it because it often adds warmth and texture and can also be sculptural depending on the piece. While I am not afraid to get my Victorian grandma vibe going with some curlicue wicker, it comes in some very modern shapes too. I know peacock chairs, Albini stools and hanging rattan chairs are pretty popular out there right now and if you love them, go for it. With a little searching, you can often find deals on craigslist, ebay and etsy. That said, I might look for something a little different or unique  - happy hunting.