With kids to design around, your furniture and accessory choices seem like a game of style versus function versus durability. Don’t let the latter two prevail: rattan wins on all three levels. Rattan saves bonked heads on wood furniture, fits with various styles, is the strongest of many other types of wicker furnishings, is relatively inexpensive and easy to clean and update. Use rattan to create a stylish and kid-friendly atmosphere.
Start With the Walls
Woven or wicker furniture made from rattan -- a durable, vine-like material from the palm tree -- creates a garden-like atmosphere in a sunny or well-lit room. Begin the setting with floral wallpaper featuring bright green, pink and lavender, for example, and pull the rug and cushions’ hues from the flowery starting point. If you prefer paint, let floral artwork guide the room’s palette.
Rattan-Friendly Window Treatments
After the walls, the window treatments are the room’s next layer; use a difference in texture in them to complement the furniture. Rattan furnishings’ tangled-vines look has a woodsy vibe that resembles bamboo or wood blinds, so go with softer window treatments as the backdrop. In the living room, bedroom or dining room, use washable, floor-to-ceiling brushed cotton, faux suede or faux-silk drapery for depth, suppleness and ease of cleaning. Light-colored curtains offset dark or bright-colored seating and vice versa. White window treatments offer a cottage atmosphere against wood-tone furniture. Bamboo or wood curtain rods tie the window treatments to the surrounding pieces.
Take It Outside
Use wood-tone-painted rattan furniture and matching magazine-and-book-filled baskets to set elegant, Old-World charm outdoors. Take a mom-moment sipping lemonade before reading to the kids while surrounded by tall sunflowers, potted geraniums and climbing clematis. Antique-looking lanterns with family-safe solar-powered candles take you back and offer a little light when days are short. For contrast, use iron and glass tables and comfy, oversized, weather-resistant cushions. The covered, screened-in porch that lacks color benefits from a multicolored Navajo blanket tossed over the arm of a rattan settee and chair. Lay a complementary-colored rug on the floor to tie in the throw, and finish with black-and-white, faux cow- or paint-pony-hide pillows.
Update on Rattan
When rattan furniture starts to look a bit ratty, take it outside to update it with a few coats of cost-efficient spray paint. Bright red or blue brings new life to faded rattan furniture; top seating with white or yellow striped cushions to hint at a cheery, nautical theme. Make pastel pink or green chairs, footstools, bins and a side or coffee table the basis for shabby-chic style. Rattan furniture and accessories in white, gray or black have a modern bent; the latter two are better at hiding the anonymous stains that seem to follow kids everywhere.