Wild patterns bring wild challenges; how to successfully design animal prints in your home

Are you wanting to spice up a room with vibrant colors and patterns but don’t know how to style it? Are you wanting to bring dimension and cohesion into an area without watering the design down? If you answered yes to either, this blog is perfect for you! Today, we are dissecting the strange, challenging, and beautiful realm of animal prints—and better yet, how to style them appropriately in your home. Animal prints are great for bringing life into the smallest and biggest rooms, and can be used as accents, ways to tie a room together, and (believe it or not) ways to neutralize and soften a room design. Starting with the history of prints and leading into ideas on how to merge prints seamlessly into your home design, here’s how to successfully add animal prints in your home.


Animal prints have been deemed fashionable for decades now. Its popularity began through clothing items, where prints became a sign of power and social status. Kings and Queens were known for owning and wearing a plethora of animal hides and patterns to establish their wealth and power—it was believed that wearing a hide would provide you power that animal once had. 

Looking into the recent past, the 1930s brought this fashion trend to more everyday folk. Wearing cheetah and leopard prints became all the rage. Going into the 40s, fur hopped on the trend with many women sporting this look during the time of women’s empowerment movements. The 50s and 60s brought these existing patterns into a more vibrant life, making each print bolder and brighter. This is where the idea of animal prints becoming accent pieces started catching on. As time progressed, people found a great way to present these prints and patterns in a more timeless way; in the décor of their home.

Prints like zebra, leopard, or giraffe are a great way to bring life and vibrancy into a room. Directional patterns like zebra print provide a directional approach to moving the eyes throughout the room. For example, point a zebra print rug stripes towards a wall that includes art; this allows the eye to follow the rug lines to the focal décor piece. With the more complex patterns, make sure not to overuse them throughout the room as it can lead to a busy and disconnected design. Also remember décor throughout the room will tend to speak louder than the rug, as the rug itself is meant to bring a cohesive aspect to the room.

Animal hide rugs bring texture, dimension, and beautiful, natural patterns that mesh effortlessly with other pieces. Be wary of the challenge that comes with cleaning and upkeep of the rug—a quick fix is to make sure this rug is in a room with minor foot-traffic. When you’re working with hide rugs, the sizing options tend to be smaller than an average area rug. This allows you to layer rugs or focus on placing the rug in a proportional space.

If you love animal prints and want to make it the highlighting factor in a space, focus on specific décor items you’d like to stand out. Prints aren’t limited to pillows, rugs, and artwork; blankets, furniture, and accessories can also include your favorite pattern and texture. A way to make the pattern stand out without being too loud is to add it to smaller décor. Try adding a faux fur stool or a set of leopard print pillows! If you are wanting these prints to accent a room, make sure they still flow with the color scheme and vibe of the space, or it might stick out like a sore thumb.

Katie Smithart, one of EED’s most appreciated designers, shares:

“When trying to add a fun, different pattern, I tend to stick with a pattern that is very large in scale or small, such as a large cowhide rug or a small cheetah pattern wallpaper. This allows them to stand out without conflicting with anything else in the space.”

If you’re staying with naturally colored prints and patterns, a great way to ensure it will fit in with the space is to look for corresponding color schemes throughout the space itself. Zebra patterns connect most in a room that contains white and black laced throughout. Tiger and giraffe patterns will blend with warm-toned wood décor and furniture, along with black, sandy, amber tones.

Using black and white prints can provide a fun pattern to set the stage for an area. With this, you can go wild or reserved with your colors. Zebra and tiger stripe patterns are great options for black and white accents. This works great on small décor because it allows for bright colors to lead the way while adding a touch of movement from the pattern. Black and white patterns are great for homeowners who tend to switch up their color schemes and décor frequently. Black and white is timeless, making it work with any color scheme that you may decide to change a year or two down the road.

If you enjoy the aesthetic of animal-related décor but aren’t sold on the patterns yet, you can go for subtle décor that includes animal accents without the loud prints. Many hides and skins are a single color that can provide a muted color and texture to a space without bringing in any screaming patterns. 

The basic zebra, cheetah, and leopard prints aren’t all that you can style your home with. Feel free to dabble into other artistic elements of the less common print and patters. Snakeskin, solid color hides, and other items that catch your eye might be the perfect addition to your space. Taking a step away from the animal prints entirely, bringing bone inlay, bamboo, and timber can bring a cultured and refined taste to the room as well.

With these simple tips, you’re now ready to work animal prints into your home’s design. Whether it’s a small accent piece or a pattern sprinkled throughout, animal prints are great for sprucing up an area without taking away the cohesion of the room and décor itself. Though it can be a challenging task to merge multiple prints, colors, and textures into one design, don’t forget to reference this post to help you create a beautiful and eye-catching room. 

Did you like this blog about sprucing up a space with animal prints? Are you looking for more tips on designing a room? If so, check out our blog post “Creating A Harmonious Home” and “How To Make Small Feel Luxurious & Large Feel Comfortable”! Don’t forget to stay connected with us on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest interior design information. Additionally, if you have a blog topic you’d like us to cover, contact us at 515-986-1895 or office@elizabetherindesigns.com! Have a beautiful week and remember to never stop striving to achieve your vision!