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Design

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!)

design by brady tolbert | photo by sara ligorria-tramp

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?

design by dee murphy | styled by velinda hellen | photo by sara ligorria-tramp

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.

design by jane hallworth | styled by michael reynolds | photo by sam frost | via architectural digest

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.

design by caroline rafferty interiors | photo by carmel fasano brantley

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???

design by alex morrison interiors | photo by dave wheeler | via est. living

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.

design by mary patton | photo by molly winters culver | via martha stewart

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?

design by studio db | via coco kelley

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!!!)

design by studio ko | photo by francois halard | via architectural digest

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?

design by nickey kehoe | photo by roger davies | via domino

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.

design by james farmer | via laurel bern interiors

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.

1. 36″ Round Mirror | 2. Rattan Wall Rack | 3. Alona Tray | 4. Riverwalk Mirror | 5. Ria Table Lamp | 6. Hanh Wall Multi-hook | 7. Hanh Wine Rack | 8. Freeport Table Lamp | 9. Italian Dome Chandelier

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

Opening Image Credits: Design by Dee Murphy | Styled by Velinda Hellen | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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LouAnn
6 months ago

I fall into the 30% who said: Buy the big bottle. 🙂 A dull corner would be utterly transformed by that giant bottle.

Elizabeth
6 months ago
Reply to  LouAnn

Yes! I looked at the big bottle and wanted to put cool doll house furniture in it.

Deborah
6 months ago
Reply to  LouAnn

I say ‘”yay” to the big bottle too, it’s a GREAT sculptural piece to what might otherwise be a dull corner! It has such good vertical mass and presence, and a fun conversation piece in the in the same way your leather bath giraffe does! 🙂
I like a bit of rattan (now pencil reed too), whicker, and/or bamboo in a room, it/they seem to add a nice organic touch and often a sense of movement.

Susan
6 months ago

I’m not sure the $2000 Reed bottle needs to be yours but I DO love this pencil teed round up. There must be more of it in vintage stuff on the coast. I never see ANY here, which is a bummer. I love the warmth and texture it brings to all of the spaces you shared!

Deb
6 months ago

The artwork is a small gull, Franklin’s gull. I love the placement of everything in this bedroom, something I could never pull off on my own. Such talent in this world!
You do you – the reeded bottle looks great for storage.

Karina
6 months ago

I love this! Must be a regional thing though…. sadly have seen NOTHING like this in the Bold North (Minnesota)!

Alex
6 months ago

Please keep the trend reports/round ups coming! Love these so much.
Here’s hoping you find your dream piece of pencil! I’m rooting for a version of that 1st dibs bed that is not $$$, mostly because I want to see how you’d style it with that gorgeous brass Sarreid chest. In my head, it’s magic. But also, oddly, not opposed to the giant bottle … if anyone could make it work, it’s you (and what a great place to store some wacky + wonderful barware)!

Angelica
6 months ago

Isn’t Brady’s coffee table wood dowels?

Patricia
6 months ago
Reply to  Angelica

Now that you mention that… but it reads like pencil reeds. So, the look for less?

lauren
6 months ago

Love the reed furniture! Had an adverse physical reaction to the bottle shaped cabinet. Two thumbs down! Yikes.

Eliot
6 months ago

I am totally sold on this trend. I’ve had my eye on the CB2 credenza for ages, but I’m worried my cats might sharpen their claws on it. Btw, Caitlin, if you’re still looking for ways to incorporate cabbage into your aesthetic, may I direct you to the Coddies Cabbage Shoe?

6 months ago

This post is wonderful…
You made me love ratan.
On how to mix diffrent woods, I have some “rules”: if the room is small it is more difficult because the pieces cannot breath, so it is better if there is contrast between the woods, also it is easier if they have similar undertone (red, yellow, brown etc)
If the room is big enough for your eyes to rest between two pieces of wood, that means if they are quite apart, you can mix more types nd colors and undertones.
Never ever put wood with shiny finish, always matte.

Paula
6 months ago

I adore bamboo, wicker, etc. I have a whole Pinterest folder for the stuff (of COURSE, I pinned that giant bottle!), so I love this post. Brady’s coffee table is great, and I don’t think it would have worked half as well if not in the pencil reed.

Jen
6 months ago

Caitlyn, you are such a great writer! All of your posts are an absolute joy to read. What a gorgeous round up of rooms, furniture and decorative objects. I’m swooning!

Deb
6 months ago

Caitlyn,

Perhaps you have a few items you are willing to part with that you could sell and put that money towards the cost of the bottle. I predict if you get it, it will be the one item you take with you no matter where you move in the future. It is such a fantastic conversation piece even though it is more whimsical than practical.
Don’t let it slip away if you really want it. It will just be too hard to find another.

Lindsay
6 months ago

Agree! The bottle bar is magnificent!

kim
6 months ago

That scalloped carpet design by studio db, I need to know who made it!
Google fails me!

Kj
6 months ago
Reply to  kim

It was Fan from Patterson Flynn (project at least 4 years old).

kim
5 months ago
Reply to  Kj

Thank you!

kim
5 months ago
Reply to  Kj

Whew, I should have known. Available, gulp. 10k

Sheila
6 months ago

Very much appreciate such a thoughtful discussion of pencil reed furniture and decor. I started out kinda negative because a lot of it has warm tones. My house has exposed plank & beam ceilings in a gray wash finish and all the posts and exposed window and door framing are an espresso/ebony stain so I’ve already got 2 cool-toned woods in every room and adding orange is not my jam. Also, some of it gives me a popsicle stick, tramp art vibe that is also not for me. That said, I love the texture and some of the pieces are awfully appealing, even to me! Thanks, Caitlin and please send me that wavy, free form mirror, ASAP!

Alec
6 months ago

Is there already a post about the “rules” and best practices for mixing woods?? I need that!

Sarah
6 months ago

Love, love, love! I scored a pencil reed dresser and matching nightstands from FB Marketplace a couple of years ago. I kept the dresser and my friend has the nightstands. She promised to give them back if she got tired of them. 🙂 The variety of spaces you show here is great–it’s not just for beach houses!

🥰 Rusty
6 months ago

I really like the look of pencil reed. Nice texture. Wood tones. The reed itself, is sustainable. I, however; wouldn’t choose it, because of the copious amount of glue used to fabricate the furniture to bond the reed. (Chemicals in the glue, off-gassing, environmental cost of glues that arepetro-chemical/plastic-based, etc.) I actively choose to not bring plastic into my life wherever possible. LUCITE is PLASTIC by another name. It doesn’t break down for 200 years!! And then it becomes micro- and nano-particle plastic that is ingested by every level of life, from plankton to whales, and yes, including humans. The average perspn eats the equivalent of a credit card of plastic per week!😳 https://qz.com/1644802/you-eat-5-grams-of-plastic-per-week/ “It will take approximately 200 years for acrylic plastic to decompose. When acrylic plastic is dumped in landfills, it lies there for a long time, slowly releasing greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals into the environment. These gases and chemicals affect the air, the bodies of water, and the surrounding environment.” Plastics end up in the oceans, the interconnected currents that literally drive life on Earth. Today is WORLD OCEANS DAY. Please…..be aware of every, single, daily CHOICE you make. It’s much biggerthan what one human likes or thinks… Read more »

Roberta Davis
6 months ago

Interesting stuff! Now the price will probably go through the roof! lol

Mary J.
6 months ago

Just added this pencil reed and marble coffee table to my living room! Had no idea I was so hip.

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Patti
6 months ago

Ok your first sentence cracked me up! And $150 for that freakin coffee table? You gotta be kiddin’ me! I luv the pencil reed trend and admit I would prolly have bought that bottle were it decently priced. And likely would have regretted it once it arrived! 🙄

Kara
5 months ago

Caitlin, your writing skills and personality are so much fun! I adore your posts!!! Girl…get that bottle! WHO are these friends saying otherwise? 😮Use it to store your liquor. Liquor bottles inside a pencil reed bottle. I have never ever seen anything like that. You’re going to have a reader buy it! LOL go back and get it!!

PS: at my local antique marketplace I found a big 19in pencil reed bowl for $20. 1st dibs has it for $200. I didn’t know pencil reed was going to be everywhere. (I bought the bowl-duh)

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