I think animal prints get a bad rap. I’ve seen the articles and heard the talk that animal textiles are a decor faux pas (faux-paw?). It is time to take a walk on the wild side and put this falsehood to rest.

Animal prints are a contradiction, labeled throughout their history as both tacky but expensive, timeless yet fresh, eye-catching but able to be used as a neutral pattern, basic and still luxurious. When done tastefully, animal prints are a beautiful pattern that not only add texture to a room and mix well with other patterns, but are perfect additions to your home year-round. (Disclaimer: No animals were harmed in the writing of this column — we only do faux!)

One print is so versatile that it would be hard to find a look it doesn’t enhance. With a history starting in 18th-century French and Italian fashion, leopard print has been around this long for a reason: It’s bold, alluring and timeless. With seemingly unlimited color and size options, it is a great fabric for both upholstery and accent pieces. Leopard is a great example of a pattern that plays well with others. From florals to plaids, it can mix effortlessly.

Another favorite print is antelope. While fairly new compared with classic animal prints, antelope is quickly becoming one of our go-to styles. With its neutral hues and soft pattern, it can be used for everything from carpeting to headboards and tablecloths. Antelope textiles work well with both earthy hues and bright jewel tones, making your design possibilities endless. It is a great way to add elegance to your home in a way that won’t overshadow other prominent elements.

Last but not least are zebra stripes. While zebra print can be tricky to incorporate, due to its stark contrasting design, there are ways to soften it up. Muted-color zebra prints in gray or tan won’t draw too much attention away from your decor, but will still add some depth and texture. While I wouldn’t recommend a full zebra rug or sofa, small touches on statement ottomans or chairs can bring an exotic flair to your space.

If animal-print furniture is too much for you, that’s OK. There are many other ways to bring animal prints to your decor, from artwork to whimsical animal wall coverings. Animals can be a big or small part of your home design. When you are looking to redo a room, consider a wild card option — you might be surprised how much you love it!


Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s.