Zebra, leopard, tiger, snake – animal print has long been ubiquitous in the world of fashion, but it’s no stranger to an interior designer’s bag of tricks either. It’s a choice that requires courage; animal print is no shrinking violet.
It adds a sense of adventure, diversity and glamour to your interior in a way that few other looks do. But it also can be toned down to behave as nothing more than an accent that, as soon as it’s noticed, sings vibrancy and ‘va va voom’.
Here are four ways to think about the working animal print trend into your home decor.
Laying down animal print on your floors is an attention-grabbing move. Genuine or imitation hide rugs such as reindeer, whose pattern is more tonal and slightly dappled, is one way to go, or opt for animal print rugs that speak a louder statement.
There are all sorts of variations, from full zebra print rugs – pink or yellow tend to be popular combination with zebra – to block colour rugs detailed with a large-scale animal motif – see an exuberant example in The Rug Company’s emerald green and leopard rug pictured.
When it comes to animal print, smaller rugs tend to look as though you’re hedging your bets. Your room will benefit more if you jump in at the deep end and choose a larger design.
Remember that the beauty with rugs is that they’re not where your eye spends most of its time and that you’ll be laying plenty of furniture and accessories over the top of it. It’s not like a piece of art where there’s less room to hide. That is, unless you’re turning the rug into a wall hanging, which will look very global chic indeed.
In the Elizabeth Kreuger shot, the zebra rug is undoubtedly a feature, but the contrasting antique desk and woven basket force it to share the limelight, while the monochromatic colour scheme fuses it altogether so the rug feels right at home.
Next up are animal print cushions – one of the easiest ways to inject a dose of animal print into your home decor.
If you’re drawn to a particular style of print, such as leopard, try to introduce complementary characters like giraffe and tiger which both share a similar palette. Then, use them in more than one room in your home so you create a subtle theme.
Animal print always comes back to confidence – the more self-assured you are with using it, the greater the effect. Try using two styles of animal print fabric on the cushions in your living room, and then a third on the ones on your bed, or on a hallway bench if you have one. But if you only have eyes for the one style of print, use that and that alone, just as the designer has in the sophisticated zebra-centric Eichholtz living room.
If you’re feeling particularly venturesome, take your textiles up a level and invest in an animal print throw. Unless you’re doing animal print in a maximalist way, tone down the number of cushions you have and let the throw be the main event in this scenario. Try folding it in two and draping it over the back or arm of a sofa with a mixture of oversized and oblong cushions in front of it.
Animal print furniture isn’t for the faint-hearted. But if the prospect of a throw over your sofa didn’t quite do it, then an animal print sofa should do the job.
Move down the gears and you’ll reach the domain of animal print chairs, headboards and footstools – three categories that are still fearless to a degree, just not quite so as the expanse of a sofa. These smaller examples of animal print upholstery fabrics champion its underlying elegance.
The key is ensuring the style of print works perfectly with your colour palette and home accessories. Animal print appreciates cohesion.
If you choose zebra, repeat black and white throughout your room. If you choose tiger, ensure there’s honeyed, warm wooden furniture or flooring, amber accents and pulses of black. And if you decide giraffe’s for you, then make certain there’s a sandy-hued presence in the room combined with tonal browns and golds.
Image Credit: Studio Ashby
Don’t forget as well that not all animal print is on the loud side of life. There are coloured versions of most that follow the pattern but not the natural tones, which can show animal print in a far subtler light. But also shagreen – a mildly patterned hide that’s typically of one colour and whose markings are picked up through its veining – which is used as a coating on storage pieces and tables, from chests of drawers and sideboards to coffee tables and bedside tables.
The other way of looking at the topic of furniture is what sort best suits animal print home accessories. The answer? Anything goes.
Choose mirrored or metallic furniture and you up the ante on an Art Deco aesthetic. Pick cane, bone inlay and bamboo, and your scheme becomes spirited, traveled and nomadic. Pair animal print with timber and antique furniture and you’ll lend your scheme a bohemian vibe. Or combine all of these and the result will be eclectic and intriguing, which the first Eichholtz shot proves to a tee.
And finally to accessories. Whether you’re using animal print accessories as a way to reinforce your interior’s already really wild side, or if it’s your single jungle reference, they’re on hand to add pockets of print to any and every room. But don’t just stop at objects peppered with dots, spots and stripes, nestle in other related accessories to highlight their zoological nature.
Add shagreen trinket boxes and jungle animal ornaments to a sitting room’s bookcase, display an artful tray of jaguar-handled jars with other animal-esque curios on a home office’s desk, or even specially-selected bottles of spirits that nod to the trend (take a look at Snow Leopard Vodka and Zebra Gin) with an animal print bottle opener for good company.
Header Image: Eichholtz