Rattan is a member of the palm family, an exotic vine which is twisted and woven using ancient techniques to create beautiful and long-lasting items of furniture. However, whilst the natural material has many advantages, it’s not well equipped to cope with the ravages of the British weather, originating from a very different climate. For this reason, synthetic rattan was developed, providing the same strength and visual appeal but with a more weather-proof exterior. Although there are many advantages to having rattan furniture, there is one specific advantage to using the synthetic version over the natural product: colour. Synthetic rattan is available in an array of colours; we take a closer look at some of the choices available.

Natural rattan

Although natural rattan is a member of the palm family, it often gets described as a type of timber or wood, because of its appearance. Although this isn’t correct, it’s understandable as once it’s processed, it no longer resembles the long tropical creeper but a highly polished wooden item, twisted beyond comprehension to create the famous wicker weave. Natural rattan is therefore the colour you would expect to find from a product which has been sourced directly from Mother Nature, a kind of light woody tone, with a variety in depth depending on the polish or finish applied. There’s no denying this is a very beautiful appearance and one which is still highly sought after. However, for synthetic rattan, there are a few more choices.

Historical style

Rattan has been used in home furnishings for many years and up until recent times, was associated with a very distinct style. Typically confined to gardens and conservatories, rattan furniture was a very floral affair, with traditional wooden tones on the rattan and unmistakable flowery upholstery. Although the colours may have varied somewhat on the cushions, the general theme was the same, with little or no variation. Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 15.55.55

A blue rattan chair makes a more unusual choice

As the emphasis on eco-friendly design and incorporating the natural world into modern decor, bamboo and rattan in particular has enjoyed resurgence in popularity. This is due in no small part to a complete overhaul of the designs available, with the colouring of the rattan itself as well as the upholstery totally rejuvenated. Although you may still find some types of floral retro print for sale with rattan furniture, far more popular is the modern minimalist approach. Plain cushions in muted colours help to create the contemporary rattan look, one which has soared in popularity The Rise and Rise in Popularity of Rattan Furniture.

Modern colours

Although the bright floral colours seen several decades ago may no longer be in demand, customers still want to have a choice in the way their rattan furniture looks.  Manufacturers therefore have created a wide range of tones which are complementary to the upholstery and flatter without being overwhelming. For those who like the appearance of natural rattan, there’s a whole host of soft caramels, buttery golden yellows, and pale wheat’s which look fabulous offset against complementary upholstery, such as ecru or beige. Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 15.56.45

Brown rattan ad beige cushions are a popular combination

This natural colour scheme works beautifully both in the home as well as in the garden and flatters a neutral palette or one which is themed to incorporate outdoor elements. But in addition to these more woody-looking colours, there is a great array of additional hues, intended to provide the customer with much greater choice over their decor design. For monochrome homes, black rattan can be incredibly striking, and when coupled with a glass top on a table, can provide a truly spectacular centrepiece. At the opposite end of the spectrum, white or ivory can also make a dramatic impact, although it can be harder to find upholstery which provides the perfect balance. Soft slate grey, dark granite, warm coffee and sepia-tinged amber are all part of the new extended range of colours with upholstery designed in colours to complement, highlight and accentuate. Beiges, browns, creams and greys all offset the colour of the rattan itself. But describing the primary colour is only half of the story; true rattan is never a flat hue, but a multi-faceted rainbow, which glints first one colour and then the next as the light catches it. The new generation of synthetic rattan has captured these tones perfectly, blending colours to create a vibrant and realistic appearance that emulates the spectrum of colours found in every strand in nature. Some pieces of furniture offer a subtle pattern, using the wide variety of colours to create a discernible design whilst others allow the colours to play out randomly across the rattan, catching the eye differently every time.


Modern rattan comes with a range of garden rattan accessories either complementing the upholstery fabric or the colour of the rattan itself. Gazebos and parasols can be purchased in the same fabric as the rattan upholstery, a great way to continue the theme throughout the garden in a subtle yet classy manner. green rattan

Rattan garden accessories in green are a popular choice

Moving on to the shrubbery, planters look beautiful in rattan and if you choose a bloom that complements the colour of the weave, the end result can be absolutely magnificent. Storage boxes can even match, with rattan boxes designed to hold the cushions when not in use. Conclusion Contemporary rattan colours are far more than a matt plastic hue. Shrugging off its floral past, modern rattan is soft and subtle, with a kaleidoscope effect, scattering soft browns, slates and toffee tones throughout the weave. This creates a range of colours which look natural and elegant, allowing the clean lines of the furniture to be shown off to maximum effect. Perfect for use both inside and out, rattan furniture complements all types of decor, both traditional and modern, providing a harmonious and balanced palette guaranteed to suit all tastes.