Wicker wonders

It’s as comtortable as an old shoe and at home with almost any furniture style. That’s why wicker is showing up throughout the house.

Woven from reeds or the thin, flexible branches of willow, wicker adds texture and contrast to soft fabrics and smooth woods. Prized for its strength and ability to retain natural moisture, well-made wicker furture should give you years of use. Here’s how to evaluate it:

Lean heavily on a piece of wicker to test its strength; it may creak a bit but shouldn’t sag or shift.

Check the underside for clues to construction. High-quality wicker will be woven on a frame that’s at least one inch thick and will have corners that are tightly wrapped.

Feel the finish. It should be smooth to the touch, with no snags, rough edges, or hairy fibers.

Check the tightness of the weave. You may pay extra for tightly and evenly woven wicker furniture, but it will repay you with durability.

Also, investigate alternatives to conventional wicker. Water hyacinth has a thicker texture and costs more. Woven resin or latex-coated wicke won’t crack or break when exposed to the elements, but you sacrifice some of wicker’s natural beauty.

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