The essence of traditional rustic design is that an object or structure incorporates unprocessed natural materials sourced from the local environment. Examples in the northern and central U.S. include cabins made of bark-on cedar logs, dressers clad in birch bark, and mirrors trimmed with yellow birch twigs. From the southern U.S. we have had chairs with rhododendron root lattice backs, stands with diamond willow bases, and even a mosaic twig-style sideboard made with palmetto fronds.
On a recent trip much further south – to Belize – we admired local rustic elements and architecture, the primary form being living quarters and cabanas with thatched roofs and bamboo-like interior walls.
According to local residents, the most long-lasting material for thatched roofs is the fronds of the Cahune Palm tree, which have a high silicon content. After seeing lots of finished roofs, we were finally able to see this palm tree growing in its natural habitat while on an ecotour traveling by boat up an estuary into a coastal rain forest.
Transforming these fronds into roofs takes skill and teamwork.
Here is a completed woven cahune palm frond roof from the outside:
And from the inside.