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Bamboo Makes a Welcome Appearance in Traditional to Shabby Chic Homes
Wall to Wall with the Decorating Divas
February, 2005 - Issue #5
Bamboo window coverings allow for privacy, but still permit soft, natural light to filter through. The result is a room that glows, naturally.
Bamboo window coverings allow for privacy, but still permit soft, natural light to filter through. The result is a room that glows, naturally.
We tend to love anything made of natural materials, like sisal, seagrass, linen, paper, etc. One of our latest loves is bamboo - we love anything and everything made of bamboo!

Donna: It can be as simple as "lucky bamboo" placed in a vase ("lucky" bamboo is actually not bamboo at all, but is dracaena sanderana). I love the pieces that are twisted with the leaves on top. Anne likes the straight ones, but once they start to grow leaves, she chops them off! Bamboo makes a great alternative to fresh flowers and lasts a lot longer, too.

Our passion for bamboo just starts there... We both love using bamboo blinds as window treatments. I have hung bamboo blinds on their own for a clean and simple look. And we both have combined long curtain panels with bamboo blinds to create a softer appearance. The fabric panels can be something as simple as sheers or linen for a natural look, or silk for a more elegant feel. Bamboo is versatile and is equally beautiful in either a casual or formal setting.

In fact, Anne is getting ready to install window treatments in her new living and dining rooms. She has already ordered the bamboo blinds from www.my-callaloo.com (check out the amazing selections!). She is having window treatments made from raw burlap, then trimmed in velvet. I suggested that she use thick, dark bamboo poles as curtain rods, without finials, for a different look.

Anne: We also love bamboo accessories. For instance, I have a bamboo ladder leaning against my kitchen wall with some favorite linens hanging over the rungs. Bamboo ladders can also be used in a powder bath to display antique hand towels. Or, instead of a regular magazine rack, try draping magazines over the rungs of a bamboo ladder.

Another great new accessory is a bamboo cutting board. Lately, they are turning up in all the decorating magazines. Not only are they useful, they are very decorative, too. In fact, I probably won't use mine at all, but rather display it leaning against my kitchen backsplash.

Bamboo stalks can be arranged simply but can make a dramatic statement. These pieces lift the eye up towards an elegantly extended ceiling while posing little distraction to the overall look of this comfortable space.
Bamboo stalks can be arranged simply but can make a dramatic statement. These pieces lift the eye up towards an elegantly extended ceiling while posing little distraction to the overall look of this comfortable space.
Bamboo poles are yet another fashionable accessory. They look beautiful placed in a large decorative vessel. I tend to favor the thicker poles, around 2-inches to 3-inches in diameter. And I lean toward either the darker colored poles or the multi colored poles (often referred to as "zebra" bamboo). Bamboo arrangements look great in both clean, modern rooms and even in more traditional rooms; they can give an environment a Zen-like feeling without making the space Asian-inspired.

Bamboo is also being used a lot for flooring. Donna has some large bamboo floor mats that she purchased locally in Hong Kong (check out Crate and Barrel locally). They are usually bound with a cotton or jute border. Donna then added some small Persian carpets on top of the bamboo matting to soften the look. It's a winning combination!

And if you're planning a major new flooring project, check out bamboo flooring. Although many people refer to it as "hardwood flooring," it's not wood at all - it's actually grass but it's as hard as maple! Like traditional hardwood floors, bamboo flooring can be stained or sealed in a variety of ways. Bamboo flooring has a unique and distinctive look when made into flooring. And it rejuvenates itself within four to five years, making it an environmentally friendly product!

Finally, both Donna and I love bamboo furniture. About two years ago, I purchased eight bamboo folding chairs. I use them as I would a regular folding chair, for additional seating for dinner parties or card games, but the look is gorgeous, and they fold up nicely for storage. My sister purchased the same chairs for use outside under her covered patio. Donna has a pair of matching bookcases made from zebra bamboo. They are small bookcases, and she uses them side-by-side in her kitchen for her cookbooks and kitchen linens.

Donna and Anne: However, one of the craziest uses for bamboo that we both have ever seen was in Hong Kong. We'll never forget the first time that we each saw highrise buildings made with hand-tied bamboo scaffolding. The workers were actually standing on the scaffolding, many without shoes on, to get a better feel. Bamboo is very strong, it's a renewable, natural resource and we just love it!

If you have a decorating dilemma and would like some help, e-mail the divas at divas@deuxamies.com.
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