Five of the Best: Rattan Chairs

Now I don’t want to be too hasty about this but the sun is out and there is blossom and possible lawn-mowing in the air, so I thought I would do a little round up of rattan chairs as they feel summery, and rattan (or varieties thereof) is everywhere this season from handbags and lampshades to tables and chairs.

babbington armchair by lloyd loombabbington armchair by lloyd loombabbington armchair by lloyd loom
babbington armchair by lloyd loom £649

From the plastic stuff, which looks the same – but doesn’t feel the same – but is completely weatherproof (mine has been out all winter) to the original design classic created by Lloyd Loom and a few price points between.

So let’s start with the classic. Lloyd Loom was invented by an American, Marshall Burns in 1917 and is actually made from paper twisted into wire. This makes it smooth and strong and eco friendly. It can also be sprayed any colour you like although there is already a choice of 31 plus the opportunity to match to Farrow & Ball for an extra £104.

They went through a period of being terribly unfashionable and my mother would pick them up for a fiver in junk shops in the 80s and paint them – which was fiddly – if only we had known about spray paint. Eventually she went off them and I acquired them and then I didn’t like them either and they went to charity shops and the like and now, well, don’t I just wish I had them back again?

ikea agen bamboo and rattan chair £30
ikea agen bamboo and rattan chair £30

Still, I don’t so it’s time to look at the alternatives. And this Ikea Agen chair costs £30 and is made from bamboo and rattan, with plastic feet so while it won’t want to live outside you could certainly stand it on damp ground on a sunny day. It’s a pretty classic style too which means it would work perfectly well inside in a bedroom for example.

rattan lounge chair from french connection
rattan lounge chair from french connection £495

This is from French Connection and would also work year round in a bedroom or corner of a kitchen although it’s quite low so it won’t suit everyone. I rather like it, which is why I have included it of course,  and if you’re worried about colour schemes it will work really well to warm up grey and bring a seasonal warmth, as well as being good with shades of pink, mustard and green. If your furniture tends towards the dark and velvet then I think it would be tricky to blend this in although there is some black rattan available if you keen to incorporate some into your home.

calamus round rattan garden chair from la redoute for £335
calamus round rattan garden chair from la redoute for £335

Now if you’re enjoying the current 70s revival then this is the one for you. It’s from La Redoute and the sweeping curves and curlicues are so trendy it hurts. But, as we’ve spoken about recently, trends last for a while so you don’t need to worry that this isn’t worth the investment. If you’ve got room for it inside as well as outside, this will be fashionable for several years and given that it’s a reprise of a previous decade you can always pass it off as a classic – for as long as you still want to that is.

jonah garden furniture from
jonah garden furniture from  £329 for the chairs

Finally, proper garden furniture: full disclosure – I have this set. Having spent 15 years talking about garden furniture and never buying any because I couldn’t find the right I finally succumbed to this Jonah set from I bought the chairs, they gave me the sofa. It’s so comfortable that we spent so much more time outside last year than we ever had before. It’s been outside all winter with no discernible damage. The only issue is finding space to store the cushions and if the 18yo didn’t have so much junk under his bed it would be easy.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Last year we took the plunge and bought some plastic Lloyd loom for the garden and have been utterly thrilled with it. They should last forever and at the price we paid they will need to. We have also had three of the IKEA chairs for a number of years – they live on a covered deck. We live in Sydney so the winters are mild but the rain can be monsoonal and horizontal so they are exposed to ‘weather’. They go a bit mouldy but I just hose them off and leave them in full sun and they return to a lovely blonde colour.

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