Animal prints work year-round in many design schemes

“All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.” — John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, on liberty (1859)

A design trend, or more likely staple, is the animal print. Each season as we gleefully see what the design mavens declare to be the latest and greatest, we’re never disappointed to see animal prints back on the list.

Now, yes, I know it’s still very hot here in Vegas, but it really doesn’t matter. Animal prints definitely work year-round. I’ve been shopping this week for a new project, and I was surprised to see animal print chairs, pillows, curtains, linens, kitchen things and a ton of everything else in the shopping places I visited.

According to Ballard Designs: “We’ve always been a bit obsessed when it comes to animal prints. From spots to stripes, animal prints spice up the tamest of interiors. These fabulously fun prints work in any decorating scheme, from traditional to contemporary. The key is to not go, well, wild with too much of a good thing.”

The “too much of a good thing” is debatable among designers and homeowners I know. I personally love animal prints, at home and in clothing and accessories. Animal print home accessories will spice up any spot, from throw pillows, rugs, towels or shower curtains.

The design is so popular some have deemed it the new neutral. Regardless of your design scheme, the animal print will fit, and for those of you turning up your noses — yes, I see you — reconsider. Imagine a black leather sofa sitting on a bold zebra print rug, an overstuffed chenille sofa scattered with leopard print pillows or a luscious leopard fur (faux) throw on just about anything. Deliciously for me, I was given one of these recently and delight in it every day.

So, why do we desire to have these patterns in our home? The answer is probably as varied as we humans are and not easily pinpointed as with some design elements. Do we have a love of the exotic? Do we believe we’re getting back to nature? Do we want to be “in”?

Whatever the reason, we’ve certainly come a long way from slaying animals and bringing home the skins to sleep under, but we still like the idea of having this design around us. It’s as popular in clothing and accessories as it is in home decoration.

In design, if we’re talking about throws or fuzzy pillows, it’s the actual texture that we like. It makes us feel warm and cozy. An animal print in fabric or wall covering is sophisticated and eclectic and adds a little spice to our surroundings.

Since these terrific prints are considered neutrals, they will generally work with many colors. Zebra or leopard prints will dazzle against reds, blues, greens, black, white or browns.

Think about incorporating other safari patterns such as bamboo in your design. Animal prints also blend well with floral patterns. The only color family that might be a little awkward would be soft pastels.

In reality, the animal print is at home almost anywhere. If you’re timid about testing the waters but interested enough to give it a try, begin with a small leopard or zebra pillow for your sofa or bed. Sample animal print placemats or napkins to zip up your dining table, or try soft thirsty towels in the bathroom.

I believe you will be hooked and desire more and more of these wonderful, versatile prints in your home. So, no slaying of animals; all that is required is visiting your favorite furniture and accessory store. And you don’t have to wear those funny safari shorts. Happy hunting!

Carolyn Muse Grant is a design consultant and creator of beautiful spaces. Questions can be sent to her at

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