12 Ways To Incorporate Animal Prints in Your Home

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By Jess McBride, Houzz

Animal print. In my experience, it’s a polarizing pattern that is either beloved or detested with equal conviction on both sides. Its detractors are repelled by the vainglorious use of faux animal pelts in interiors because to them it evokes the trophy mentality of game hunting. But to legions of enthusiasts, animal print in all its fabulous varieties is a favorite neutral, a go-with-everything texture that adds warmth and evokes the natural world in much the same way as wood.

Love it or hate it, animal print is a perennial pattern that graces interiors of virtually every style. Here are 12 examples of how to use animal prints and faux fur throughout the home.

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Animal prints-- mix it up

Clay Construction Inc., original photo on Houzz

1. Mix it up.

Not only does animal print mix well with other patterns, it mixes well across species. One technique is to pick two animal patterns of a similar scale and color. Here we see two zebra prints and a leopard print in medium brown tones working together with the stacked-stone fireplace surround and the wood furniture and flooring to achieve a cohesive, earthy aesthetic.



Animal prints- safari

Meadowbank Designs, original photo on Houzz

2. Let’s take a picture safari.

A majestic tiger holds court in this safari-themed library, whose theme might be obscured if not for the animal-print rug and chair. Indeed, animal print is a natural fit in such a design scheme, and the key to making it feel fresh and original is the unexpected mixing of species and turning up the heat with rich color. Since most animal prints are fairly neutral, they pair beautifully with virtually any hue.


Animal prints- color combo

Summer Thornton Design, Inc, original photo on Houzz

3. Color combos.

Speaking of color, here we see an agglomeration of unexpected elements: a swanky Brunschwig & Fils floral fabric on the settee, trendy green and white animal-inspired print on the draperies and a more conventional animal print on the rug. The whole room is made even more eclectic by the colorful books and architectural yellow table.

Logic says so many disparate elements shouldn’t work, but somehow they do. It’s the juxtaposition of a trendy animal print with a more conventional one that establishes the theme of mixing the traditional with the not-so.

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4. Faux furniture.

Textiles aren’t the only way to infuse your space with animal print: A less committed approach would be to paint a small piece of furniture in your chosen pattern. You may even be able to find stencils to help with the project, but simple zebra or tiger stripes, or even the loose shapes of a giraffe’s coat, would be perfect for a first DIY attempt, as would the polka-dotted animalesque prints that are majorly trending right now.


Animal prints- pattern pileup

Alex Amend Photography, original photo on Houzz

5. Pattern pileup.

As you look at this room, are you noticing what I’m noticing? There’s not a single solid fabric in sight! Everything is pattern and more pattern, and each is completely distinct from the rest. Even all the wood is highly textured or marked by intricate detail, as on the armoire door. In a setting like this where there’s so much going on, animal print becomes the perfect pattern, one that somehow ties everything together. Not only are the two zebra prints the largest-scale patterns in the room, but their basic design functions much like a stripe, with two colors alternating for a grounding effect.


6. Black-and-white beauty.

A classic zebra print is clearly a home run in a black and white color scheme. In fact, it works virtually anywhere a bold black and white stripe works.

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Animal prints- subdued

 Ashley Rohe Design, original photo on Houzz

7. A subdued approach.

Here’s a wholly different approach to pairing animal-print patterns: Keep the largest swaths of design real estate — walls, draperies and sofa — solid and uncluttered and let your beloved animal prints leap forth from an oriental rug. Woven wood blinds pair especially well with animal prints and ensure that plenty of light filters into this moody, contemplative space.


8. Statement-making sofas.

Don’t be afraid to go bold with an animal-print sofa. There are plenty of fabrics that are subtle enough in color and small enough in scale to constitute a very “designerly” alternative to the herringbone and other prints often used in lieu of solid upholstery.


9. Foot-of-the-bed fabulous.

When in doubt, go for a faux-fur throw. They work equally well at the foot of the bed, as shown, or draped over a chair or sofa arm.

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10. A little goes a long way.

In the end, we always have pillows to let us experiment with graphic patterns before (or instead of) making a bigger, bolder investment. A small dose of animal print can go a long way!


11. Temporary thrill.

If the mood hits you and you want to hear the call of the wild, animal-print bedding is a great way to go. It’s super easy to tone it down and swap it out whenever you want.


Animal prints- young and glamorous

 Last Detail Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

12. Young and glamorous.

And here’s the bedroom that at least some of you have been waiting to see: The black, white and hot pink scheme that has become a staple of many youthful designs. Predictable though it may seem at first glance, designer touches like a rich brown backdrop and a mature eggplant headboard against which hot pink is a thoughtful accent graduate this space from juvenile to befitting a hip young professional.


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