Is This The New Wicker? Breaking Down Pencil Reed, Vintage Sourcing Advice + 24 Pieces To Shop Now
Last year, I sat down, wrote a post, and posed a pretty big question: Have I Lost My Actual Mind? At the time, I was concerned about my newfound obsession with cabbageware (and with whimsical home decor in general – wine openers shaped like butlers, tureens shaped like rabbits – you know, the kind of stuff normal people like. Right?? Normal people like this stuff, right???). Thankfully, you assured me that I did still appear to be mostly sane – a blessing, as my love of weirdly-shaped furniture and decor is still going strong – but today, well…just wait until you see my NEW newfound obsession, guys. It’s nearly 8′ tall and 3′ around (again, normal proportions for furniture, right?), 70% of the people I polled on my Instagram told me not to buy it, and I’ve been checking in on it every week for months anyway…ready?
YEAH. I’M LOSING IT. For sure. Yes, this is a giant, bottle-shaped pencil reed bar cabinet with a mirrored interior. Yes, it is a cool $2,000, plus shipping. And taxes. (That means it’s currently cost-prohibitive for me, but maybe it’s for the best?) And yes, I will continue to dream about it for months to come, despite the fact that literally everyone in my life has looked at this and said “ooooh, baby, noooo, what are you thinking?”
But there’s a method to the madness, y’all! I loved the shape, obviously, but I also fell in love with the pencil reed texture – I’m opting for a lot of lucite and lacquer in my apartment, so this felt like an awesome way to bring in a new material without straying too-far from my self-imposed style guideline (“Would this make sense in ‘disco deco’ space?” – me, before making any purchasing decision – it’s surprisingly helpful!).
ANYWAY – I brought my dream cabinet up in passing while chatting with Em, and she mentioned that she, too, had also been loving a lot of pencil reed furniture. I thought I had only been ogling this cabinet, but when I looked at my Chairish favorites, a little pattern emerged – y’all, I had been favoriting NOTHING BUT pencil reed for WEEKS.
And while the prices on pencil reed pieces (or split reed, or rattan – the nomenclature folks use isn’t always consistent) have been rising online, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are still PACKED with incredible inventory. We’re still EARLY in this trend, which means it’s a great time to hop on board – like, sure, your home will feel really special and you’ll be on-trend, but prices are also still VERY low on our peer-to-peer buying sites and apps. (If you need them, here are my tips for Marketplace and here are my tips for Craigslist – I’m a seasoned vintage-buying professional! “Coastal” and “boho” also bring up great pencil reed results, too.)
Buuuuut if you’re a little less excited about the hunt but you still want to add some rattan to your home, I’ve also linked up 24 purchasable pieces below (straight from my own Pinterest collection – I’ve been saving my favorites in a folder for weeks). All that said…are you finally ready to see some pencil reed styled out in the wild?
This modern-classic House of Hackney wallpaper and horizontal shiplap combination could have left this office nook feeling very formal – especially when paired with those luxe curtains and that velvet and brass chair! – but the pencil reed desk brings such a casual and relaxed warmth to the space. It makes a great backdrop for some more whimsical styling, too. (Things I’ll never be able to get over: that little geometric candle next to the chain!)
A lack of color ≠ a lack of interest! I love how Brady’s new coffee table (a $150 Facebook Marketplace find!!! Can you believe?!) elevates his organic-meets-geometric living room. Pencil reed is an AWESOME choice for those calm color palette lovers – as a material, it brings a lot of texture and sculptural interest without totally dominating a room. This coffee table is huge and pretty dense – in any other material, it would probably feel VERY imposing and heavy! – but it just works in pencil reed.
An overwhelming majority of styled shots featuring pencil reed pieces are in coastal-leaning rooms (you know, light blue walls, lots of bright white accents…all that jazz) so it’s really exciting and refreshing to see folks choosing to use rattan in new and interesting ways. You may recognize the home on the left from this recent house tour or the home on the right from Em’s book – the vintage coffee table looks incredible in both spaces, doesn’t it?
First: I just realized that the hexagonal burl box sitting on top of that huuuuge blue Surfing book is now sitting on *my* bookshelf – I grabbed it from Em’s garage last summer. (Or, more accurately, Jess allowed me to take it. NEAT, RIGHT?!) Second: this is the best example of how pencil reed plays well with others – in an eclectic space and collected space with tons of different styles, this console holds its own. If you’re uncomfortable mixing woods (full disclosure: I am, even though I theoretically understand the rules for, you know, mixing and matching woods), this is a pretty no-fail way to bring another natural piece into your home.
This vintage Gabrielle Crespi reed and brass lantern does a great job of connecting the organic and earthy kitchen table setup (that’s a Perriand table with Berthet chairs – Google if you want to experience near-paralyzing sticker shock) with the uber-luxe kitchen in the rear (yeah, those are bronze cabinets paired with an all-marble surround of, uh, literally everything). A metal lighting choice here would have felt over-the-top; paper would have felt too light; glass would be too fussy – pencil reed brings the perfect mix of nature, weight, and glam.
But wait – it isn’t just for folks with $40,000 kitchen table setups! (Had to drop the number in here somewhere – knew you all weren’t going to Google it!) Pencil reed can be styled in an achievable and livable way, too. This shot is one of my favorites because everything in here has a buddy – like, the mint Prouve-style chairs speak to the art; the shape of the art is echoed in the table and pendant; the texture of the rattan pendant balances all the sleek and minimal surfaces. Thoughtful AND cheery – what else could I ask for???
Jess sent this shot to me and man, it’s a showstopper!!! Don’t you love how the lines of this formal travertine console are balanced out by the wavy, free-form mirror? Squiggles are trending right now – they’re huuuuge with Gen-Z, in case you missed it – but this feels like the mature, grown-up version of that trend.
This shot has been particularly inspiring for me – I’m eyeing a similar shade of pink for my living room and I’m loving how that captain’s chair at the head of the table shines against this peachy tone. Big fan of the mix-and-match here, too – like, who would have guessed that a coastal reeded chair with chintz fabric would work so well with sharp-angled Jeanneret-style dining chairs, a stone and lucite table, glam sconces, and Ikat curtains?
Another huge swoon – look at the paint finish on the ceiling! (Gotta appreciate the little things, you know?) But take a look at how much depth this scroll coffee table brings to this room – the whole space is pretty devoid of pattern (outside of the rug and that sweet little pillow!), but it’s still really dynamic and warm and comfortable. Any other coffee table would fall pretty flat in here, don’t you think? (Also, check out that sweet Murano sconce!!!)
FLAMINGO ESTATE. If you’re not familiar, check out the full tour of this home – the entire place is unbelievable and thoughtful and layered and it’s such a treat!!! The history, of both the home (a former adult film studio) and the stuff in it is fascinating, too (case in point: the homeowner saw that elephant chair to the right in a hotel restaurant in Ibiza and was like “hey, I want to buy this,” even though it wasn’t for sale – INCREDIBLE). To that end, this rattan coffee table with a richer, deeper finish is the perfect grounding piece for this eclectic collection, right?
So many good things and hidden gems in here (looking at you, plaid bedskirt), but my favorite ~design element~ is how the shape of the headboard is reflected in the curve of those bright red light fixtures AND that vintage chandelier. (It reminds me a lot of the fixtures from the Holbrooke Hotel, actually!) The contrast between the granny William Morris wallpaper and the 70s pencil reed is so special, too. BIG HEART EYES.
I wanted to share this one because it’s absolutely the most traditional example I could pull – pencil reed has a tendency to feel a little casual, but doesn’t it SHINE in this more formal space? A mahogany or four-poster bed would have looked a little more heavy and serious – which is also beautiful, don’t get me wrong!!! – but this French rattan feels light and whimsical, especially when paired with those charming duck/bird/unidentified avian creature (someone who knows birds, help me out?) prints.
Now – if you’re ready to add some pencil reed to your home (and if you’re not interested in, you know, digging through the flea market or trolling the depths of Facebook Marketplace), I’m here with a few of the pieces I personally have been pinning…
1. Claire Sideboard | 2. Oval Natural Rattan Console | 3. Reflect Rattan Credenza | 4. Coastal Armoire | 5. Antonia Desk | 6. Pencil Reed & Brass King Bed | 7. Swirl Queen Headboard | 8. Crespi Style Chair & Ottoman | 9. Round Natural Rattan Coffee Table | 10. Waterfall Coffee Table | 11. Amato Dining Armchair | 12. Vintage Trunk | 13. Edie Rectangular Coffee Table | 14. Caroline Nightstand | 15. Pencil Reed Desk
Here’s the deal: pencil reed ain’t cheap, but there are a few sources with awesome deals. I’m really impressed by the price and quality of World Market’s offerings (#2 is a great deal that I’m considering for my house!), and CB2 often has some sales where you can scoop their rattan pieces at a discount. (#3 and #13 stand out to me, but there are LOTS of options on their site – highly recommend checking it out if you want to capture this look on a “budget.”)
And then a quick little lightning round of vintage feedback: #6 is my dream bed (albeit not at my dream price, WOOF!); I’m especially taken by #12; you may recognize #8 from Kacey Musgraves’ house (check out our review here!); #15 is actually a pretty good deal, IMO.
Before spending the big bucks on pencil reed decor, pleeeease be sure to check out your local thrift or flea! The savings will be worth your time, I promise. That said – I have been loving #4 since 2018 (the shape is so good!) and #9 is such a freakin’ dream to look at, don’t you think?
That’s a wrap from me today – WHAT SAY YOU? Any pencil reed listings you wanna share with the class? Is this trend a yay or a nay for you? Would YOU put my massive dream bar cabinet in your house?! LET’S TALK ABOUT IT ALL, ok??? xx
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