Elizabeth Pash is a professional designer and owner of Elizabeth Pash Interiors & Antiques. In this column, she shares what she’s loving right now from the world of design.
Animal print in interior decorating is hardly something new—from the earliest human civilizations adorning homes with hides to today’s more wildlife-friendly iterations, there’s something about the stripe of a zebra or the spot of a leopard that just seems to work in every style of design.
One of my personal favorite uses of animal motif dates back to the early 20th century, when the legendary designer Elsie de Wolfe used it at Villa Trianon, her beloved home in Versailles. As with so many of her innovations, Ms. De Wolfe did this with aplomb and with a gracious style that lives on century later. In an elegant hallway space, leopard print cushions are the perfect layering piece on a pair of Louis XVI style banquettes. Although this juxtaposition was a bit daring in the early 20th century, the space still looks fresh today.
From tiger stripes to cheetah or leopard spots, an animal print can often add an exciting element of the unexpected to an interior. In my opinion, an animal print is almost neutral. A zebra or leopard print accessory or rug can complement either a contemporary room in all white or a traditional space, because it can so easily coexist with other colors and patterns.
How to use it:
Animal prints work equally well as accents or large coverings. I love reupholstering very traditional chairs with a strong and lively animal print for a jolt of the unexpected that gives what could be considered “old lady brown furniture” a new lease on life. We also never tire of using an animal print rug as a fabulous backdrop to a room. Although it can be neutral, it adds movement and pattern to a space, making the room appear larger and more vibrant. If you’re not quite there yet, dip your toe with a throw pillow, tablecloth, or accent chair.
Like with many bold choices, too much animal print in interiors (or fashion) is never a good idea. But when it’s incorporated successfully, it can play a subtle, yet starring role. Try it! Once you walk on the wild side, you won’t look back.
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