Incorporating Bamboo into your Home
by Jennifer Lutz
Pandas aren't the only ones benefiting from bamboo nowadays. With this eco-friendly type of wood, our homes are also gaining new options for excellent home décor. Here are some unique and beautiful ways of incorporating versatile and eco-friendly bamboo into your home
Bamboo Flooring - be sure of the quality before buying
Add natural simplicity to any space with bamboo flooring (below left). Like traditional hardwood floors, bamboo is offered in a multitude of stained options and textures, but is generally cheaper. With a Janka Hardness Rating of up to 5000, depending on the species, the time it was harvested, and the quality of the manufacturing, bamboo can be harder than red oak (1290) or maple (1450).
Unfortunately, some manufacturers practice premature harvesting (which can result in a softer floor) and apply low-cost finishes that result in subpar products. Unlike oak or any other wood floor, scratched and dented bamboo cannot be refinished, so it's really wise to double check the quality of the bamboo flooring you're about to buy or install. Request documentation from the manufacturer to be sure you aren't getting substandard bamboo!
Bamboo room divider or decorative screen
A bamboo room divider (above right) is a wonderful way to bring privacy and good feng shui into any room. Made up of vertical strips of bamboo, this ingenious panel blocks off an open space, defining areas in a multifunctional room. Bamboo screens are crafted not only in the traditional "bamboo" appearance but can be sculpted to many different styles and stained or painted to match most any decor.
Bamboo wallpaper and wall coverings
Add texture and style to your walls with bamboo wall coverings (left). Bamboo wallpaper provides a distinctive look to any space. It gives off a classy vibe with its neutral tone and simplicity. In this bathroom, the striated bamboo wallpaper creates a spa-like ambiance.
Bamboo wallpapers feature natural materials laminated to a heavy paper backing for stability. However, because of the natural characteristics of bamboo cloth and the variations in fabric weaves, seams may be obvious upon installation, creating a panel effect.
Bamboo is one of several types of grasscloth wallpapers, also including hemp and jute. Because bamboo is a "natural" material, it can be affected by high moisture and isn't very cleanable. Many manufacturers recommend limiting cleaning to gentle dusting or vacuuming. So bamboo wallpaper is not recommended for kitchen backsplashes (unless manufactured for this purpose... see below), areas where it may come in contact with food or other possible staining materials. Also, it should not be used in areas with high levels of moisture such as bathrooms or under-grade rooms unless it is pre-sealed or you plan to seal or paint it yourself.
Bamboo curtains and rods
Windows are a great place to incorporate organic bamboo into your home. They are available in different colors and styles. The textile is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and odor-resistant, making it an excellent choice for people with allergies. Curtains made of bamboo fiber also boast insulating properties that help keep a room cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Do note, however, that bamboo textiles (curtains, bedding, and the like) are more expensive compared to other types of curtains because of the process they undergo to become sturdier. Several chemicals are used in processing bamboo fabric so that it can be used for various purposes. And while some textiles are treated with less harsh solvents, they are more expensive than the fabrics which were processed using more severe chemicals.
Bamboo also makes a good material for curtain rods, which can easily be stained to suit elegant, contemporary, or minimalist interior styles. In their natural color, bamboo rods are particularly wonderful in creating a laid-back setting reminiscent of coastal homes.
Bamboo towel racks and bars
Strong and resistant to moisture and humidity, bamboo adds a touch of nature to your bathroom décor as a towel rack. There are several ways to incorporate bamboo into your intimate spaces. One of them is by placing a bamboo ladder to serve as a unique and playful way of hanging bath towels. Its sleek silhouette imparts a sculptural presence and accentuates the height of the room. Bamboo towel holders can also add to the Asian theme of a bathroom.
A simple bamboo bar is another option. Set against a white backdrop, the towel bar in this bath adds visual interest and natural appeal.
Bamboo beddings and throws
Bamboo is incredibly soft, with a texture more similar to silk or cashmere. It can wick away moisture better than cotton, making it an excellent material for bedding and throws. It also has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which help keep linens fresh longer. Aside from the usual earthy hues, bamboo textiles are now available in all kinds of beautiful colors.
As previously mentioned, there is a large debate on the eco-friendliness of bamboo fabric. This is because while eco-friendly bamboo textile can be manufactured using enzyme-based production, most manufacturers still choose to process the fiber using harsh chemicals in an effort to keep costs down.
Its resistance to moisture and bacteria makes bamboo a good choice for backsplash. It also adds an eye-catching texture and works great in emphasizing the style of a kitchen or bathroom.
Made from a bamboo blind, this backsplash adds character to this bath. Its dark tone is a beautiful complement to the porcelain sink and stainless-steel faucet.
Bamboo for the kitchen
You can find a wide variety of kitchen accessories contructed from bamboo, including mixing spoons of all types, spaculas, salt shakers, small and large carts, serving trays and, of course, cutting boards. Bamboo rivals the durability of other wood products at a fraction of the cost.
No additional care is needed for bamboo... treat it with respect as you would any wood utensil or item. Wash with warm water, wipe dry and don't put items that are extremely hot on it or in it! You should not put bamboo products in the dishwasher, microwave or over as it may cause permanent damage and warping.
Bamboo shares one feature with wood products... it is a natural anti-microbial and, for cutting boards, is a much safer surface than plastic. As an added bonus, ti is stronger than maple and lighter than oak, plus it won't dull knives as plastic cutting boards can
Why bamboo? A final thought...
Increased environmental awareness has boosted interest in bamboo products, and with the advent of new technology, the possibilities for integrating bamboo into the home are endless. Know the pros and cons of using bamboo in your home, and reduce your carbon footprint when you choose this sustainable resource.
About the author: Jennifer Lutz blogs about Home Décor and related subjects for www.christmastreemarket.com. They don't sell any bamboo Christmas trees, but lots of artificial Christmas trees that look like spruce, pine or fir can be found at: