Reese Witherspoon uses this 1920s Hollywood-inspired staple in her dining room – and it looks just as chic 100 years on

'It probably doesn’t hurt that high-quality rattan lasts forever': Here's how the actress uses the most timeless material of all in her entertaining space

(Image credit: ABC via Getty Images)

The question of timelessness is one that we return to in the world of interiors – most specifically in terms of furnishings. For inspiration that is (arguably) ageless, we should look to Reese Witherspoon, the Legally Blonde actress who has adorned her dining room with rattan – a material that has already impressed for a century. And, as antique collectors explain, it will likely impress for another 100 years from now.

'Rattan first came into vogue in the 20s and 30s when it was first used in Hollywood movies. Everybody fell in love with it. The material makes furniture that feels nice and cool inside of warm homes. After it first caught on, people started to make their own tiki rooms, finished in rattan and similar materials,' comments Los Angeles-based collector Harvey Schwartz.

Schwartz opened his first Los Angeles antiques shop in 1969. By the mid-70s, he had established a regular Hollywood clientele of collectors, including Barbara Streisand, who filled her beach house with his rattan furniture – and Streisand is in good company.

Fans of Witherspoon will know that her dining room is not the only space where she experiments with rattan. Last year, she shared her outdoor furniture, made from the material (via Instagram), but as Schwartz explains, our chosen setting doesn't matter: this furniture will look good anywhere.

Like all design aesthetics, rattan has ebbed and flowed in popularity, but it's never looked quite as chic as it does in the contemporary day. And with support from Witherspoon, both inside and outside her home, we're sure this look is here to say.

'Paul T Frankl was one of the first designers to work with rattan in Los Angeles and to put his pieces in movies and the homes of the Hollywood elite. After that, his designs were copied all over the world. Rattan reached its peak popularity in the 50s, and it calmed down in the 60s and early 70s when I got into the business. I had a store on Melrose back then, and when I put some rattan in the window, it was an instant hit,' Schwartz explains.

'Now again, rattan seems hotter than ever! It probably doesn’t hurt that high-quality rattan lasts forever.'

To what can we owe its enduring success? According to Schwartz, the eternal appeal comes down to its longevity and ease of maintenance.

'Some of the pieces that I sell now are 90 years old! And they’re easy to maintain, just change the cushions every 20 years or so, and maybe refinish the pieces every 50. And having been in the rattan business for that long, I’d say that the best pieces double in price nearly every ten years,' he says. Decorating with antiques is one of the best ways to bring rattan into our homes. However, we can also shop the Witherspoon-inspired look with these pieces below.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.