Trendy, vulgar, classic, dated—all words that might be used to describe one of the most controversial design trends of all time. Animal prints are amazing because they are rich in natural colors, patterns, and texture. They go with everything and can really set a space apart.
On the other hand, they can quickly become overwhelming if used too much. They can look gaudy, especially if obviously fake. They might look like something out of your quirky great-aunt’s house if applied in a certain style.
Animal prints can be a dream come true or a nightmare waiting to happen. Used correctly, animal prints are distinctively classy, warm, and stylish. They are, by far, the most successful when used as an accessory or accent to the main style of a space. When used sparingly, animal prints enrich a design. Here’s how to successfully incorporate them into your design.
Rugs are a great option to add a little flair to your space. Rugs form a foundation for the room that sets the pace for the design. A naturally-inspired rug brings visual texture to the room and draws attention not just to the rug, but everything on top of it. A nice zebra pattern introduces a unique look in classic colors that are interesting but not overwhelming. Instead of being distracting, it serves to highlight the room in a way few other designs can.
A good rug won’t have stark colors—white won’t be a bright pure white, but a warmed up, creamy white—which will harmonize most neutral color
s. So the animal print rug becomes the key that blends the entire room’s décor together.
On top of a neutral tile floor with even, continuous coloring—just about any type of animal print will work. Brown, gray, ivory, black, even cool pastel tiles all work well with animal prints.
Selecting Smooth Surfaces for Animal Print
Finding little to no visual or actual texture in tile may seem daunting at first, but there’s plenty to choose from if you know where to look.
Fabric-inspired tiles have just the right amount of texture and a warmth that works well with animal prints. Try Daltile’s Fabrique™, or Kimona Silk™.
Industrial, cement-inspired tile can also be a good choice for animal print because of its even texture and color. Exhibition™ or Invoke™ might work for your space.
Limestone or travertine are both beautiful, neutral stones that would be an excellent backdrop for animal print. Available in soft beiges and grays, these stones bring luxury to the design.
Use neutral tile on floors, walls, backsplashes, and as accents to create an amazing foundation for your animal prints.
A pop here and there with animal print allows you to get away with far more of this pattern than you might otherwise be able to. Pillows added to a basic sofa give the whole room a lift. The trick with pillows, and animal print on the whole, is to not mix too much other pattern or texture with your print of choice. The animal print should be the focal point and introducing other contenders can make the space feel visually overloaded.
Because animal print goes with any color, you don’t have to be afraid of bright colors, as long as you stick to smooth fabrics and surfaces. Bright colors with animal print are generally thought of as contemporary in style rather than classic. It’s a fun look, but may come with an expiration date.
A single piece of furniture in animal print alongside more muted furniture and room décor does the same thing as the rug or throw pillow. It creates a highlight that centers the room. However, your space may not be able to take much more animal print after you’ve added a piece of featured furniture.
But you can’t leave that featured sofa by itself either. The trick here is to add a bit more animal print in small doses just to make sure the design is grounded. Some designers observe a rule of three—they use two other bits of animal print in the room, preferably in different areas of the room. An animal print frame, blanket, or piece of wall art is all it takes to make your featured furniture look right at home.
Animal print isn’t hard to incorporate into your design tastefully if you observe a few design concepts that will make it a welcome classic instead of an obnoxious, overbearing pattern you’ll soon tire of.