July 22, 2021

Trends & Styles

Cane furniture, a timeless material for today’s home

Light, summery and surprisingly durable. The qualities of cane furniture have been appreciated by designers from all historical periods, dating back to antiquity up till the present day. 

Associated with styles as diverse as the Colonial era and the Bauhaus, cane furniture is today being rediscovered by a new generation.

The following article looks at the best way to incorporate cane furniture into home & garden décor, as well as explaining why we are going to see more of it in the years to come.


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Beige porcelain tile with a matt finish and a stone effect.




Differences between wicker, rattan & cane furniture

The above terms are often confused; wicker furniture tends to be a catchall phrase for all types of woven furniture.

  • Wicker refers to all furniture made with reeds, bamboo, rattan, seagrass or willow (and synthetic equivalents).
  • On the other hand, rattan furniture is made from the vines of the tropical palm tree found mostly in South Asia. However, similar to bamboo, the rattan vines are much more flexible and provide a thicker weave than cane.
  • Cane furniture refers only to the bark of the rattan tree which is obtained by peeling it off the plant. It is then woven in fine strips within a frame to provide a lightweight and porous surface.

Six-way cane furniture

The method for weaving cane describes the finished decorative panel, six-way weave but also five-way or four-way. To produce the six-way weave, which is used as a substitute for upholstery or solid wood in furniture, a frame is required with a series of evenly spaced holes provided along its perimeter.

Two strips of rattan bark are threaded from front to back, side to side and diagonally across both directions. This results in a six-way star-shaped opening framed by the lengths of cane. Generally speaking, the tighter the weave the better quality of the resulting panel.




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Grey porcelain tile with a matt finish and a wood effect.




The many advantages of cane furniture

The credentials of cane as a sustainable material are impeccable. This together with its aesthetic advantages makes it a popular choice for contemporary interiors, commercial and private. In summary, its main advantages are:

  • Because cane is an organic material, harvested from the living rattan tree it is a highly sustainable material.
  • Cane is a very pliable material and has a natural flexibility.
  • Cane can be easily repaired if damaged.
  • In terms of resistance and durability cane is hard to beat. Even for the outdoors if properly treated.
  • Cane weaving can be carried out by hand or mechanised for more budget-conscious pieces of furniture.

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Cane furniture for indoors

Increasingly, the decorative qualities of cane furniture are being appreciated by interior designers working in both contract and home décor. The organic texture and look of cane furniture add an exotic touch to indoor rooms and conservatories. The following ideas are organised around different spaces in the home.

  • Living rooms: A pair of armchairs grouped around an upholstered sofa or a wicker side table add a light touch and a natural cane perfume to the living room. Cane combines well with raw and light-coloured timber furniture.
  • Dining rooms: the famous Cesca dining chair by Marcel Breuer, featuring a tubular metal frame with cane upholstered seating and backing panel, shows just how versatile cane is as a material. Likewise, the Thonet 209 bentwood chair with a cane panel is a timeless complement to any table.
  • Bedrooms: a single cane chair for reading or throwing clothes over can help the bedroom décor appear more organic. In addition to the comfortable design, the chair is highly decorative.
  • Kitchens: cane weave decorative lampshades are a great way to introduce rattan’s soft and natural feel into the kitchen. Baskets for storage are another option that lends a country, rustic feel.

Cane furniture for the conservatory

The natural habitat for cane furniture is the conservatory. That’s because the cane is resistant to humidity and heat as well as being strong but lightweight and easily moved around. The conservatory décor can be softened with a cane, it’s the perfect foil for hard surfaces like glass and metal window frames. Add linen upholstery for the complete organic look together with cushions and pillows.


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Madagascar Blanco 59.6X59.6

White porcelain tile with a matt finish and a stone effect.




Cane furniture for outdoors

The outdoor terrace is another area ideally suited for furnishing with cane furniture, seating elements including sofas and armchairs are recommended because of their organic and airy quality. Make sure to add waterproof fabric upholstery elements to give weight to the pieces and add comfort. A centrepiece table helps to establish a living room ambience. Another option is to suspend a statement chair in a wicker or rattan weave, placed near a view for the full effect.


Terraces with cane furniture work best when they include planters, outdoor floor tiles, accessories and fabrics made of other natural, sustainable materials, such as terracotta, porcelain and linens.




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Cane furniture first became popular because it was considered hygienic, there is nowhere for insects and mites to hide, unlike in traditional upholstered furniture. Today the same holds true, to keep cane and rattan furniture clean simply wipe down with a sudsy cloth using a mild detergent. Avoid an overly wet application and use a toothbrush for areas between the weave.

One of the reasons that people hold onto cane furniture and don’t throw it away is because it’s simple to repair. In fact, a damaged cane panel can be repaired in a seamless manner with the right skills and TLC.

The cane furniture used typically in conservatories can be painted to lend tired elements a fresh look. An off white or soft neutral colour will work best.

1. Prepare the piece of furniture with a soft wire brush, removing loose fragments of any previous treatments.

2. Use a light-grade sandpaper to provide a surface with a surface that will take the paint.

3. Wipe clean after using a powerful vacuum cleaner to remove any dust from between the weave.

4. Once dry place the item of furniture in a well ventilated room.

5. Apply two coats of an oil based undercoat with a brush or spray gun.

6. Apply tow coats of an oil based finished coat with a brush or spray gun.

7. Once dry turn upside down and paint the under side following steps 5 through 6.

8. Wait for an entire week to pass before using the furniture.

Yes. This is one of the reasons why cane furniture became popular in the tropics, because of its resistance to the damp and wet, its native weather conditions. Originally it was used as a construction material for cladding exterior partitions. Then westerners applied it to chairs which became extremely popular around the world from the Victorian era onwards.

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