Date: 08 Mar 2014
By: Seaside Interiors
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Actually, animal prints are quite “friendly,” fitting in well with most decorating styles, including coastal design.
                                                              Veranda April 2014

Animal prints are highly versatile. As odd as it may seem, when used in moderation, they serve as a neutral in any room setting, working well with most colors.  Using an animal print design on side chairs, an upholstered bench, dining chair seats, or an ottoman is an easy way to perk up any room décor.

The Cottage Journal, Spring Cottage, Spring 2014

When speaking of animal prints and home décor, for the most part, I am referring to the reproduction of the beautiful coats, hides and skins of jungle and safari animals like the big cats:  tiger, leopard, cheetah and jaguar, and then others, such as the giraffe, zebra, alligator, crocodile and snake.  Outside of that box, I’d have to add cowhide. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. There is a wide array of species, as well as variations within species, whose exotic coats, hides and skin patterns are reproduced for use in our homes.

Can you identify the six common classic animal prints in the photo below?  Naming them left to right, you will find the answer at the bottom of this post.

Though classic animal prints are timeless, for a new and different spin on tradition, consider some of the artistic liberties that have been taken with Mother Nature’s color designs for animal prints. One website,, offers over 400 types of animal print/patterned fabrics in a variety of materials and textures.  There are the familiar, standard color designs, but then also an interesting wide selection of others you won’t find roaming nature’s habitats, such as  “Crocodile Merlot,” “Leopard Sorbet,” and “Cool Cat Palm Teal.”

The colorful hues offer a unique, modern alternative to the classic animal prints, and work especially well with the sea inspired color palette of chic coastal design. The differently colored animal prints also effectively add a touch of interest and elegance when chosen to coordinate with a monochromatic color scheme. This is especially helpful when creating a space with all soft or pastel hues where classic animal print colorations may be too harsh.

If you want to walk on the wild side, consider choosing wall-to-wall carpeting or a large area rug with an animal print motif.  Remember, there are many variations in pattern and color to choose from. Some are more conservative in nature than others, but all of them make a brave statement about you and your decorating style – translation: you’re not afraid to be a little adventurous!

Veranda April 2014

An animal print adds a touch of unexpected boldness to any room no matter what form it takes…even if it is just a fun, small addition like a faux fur throw pillow, a needlepoint footstool, or a mixed grouping of picture frames.

A few guidelines to consider when decorating with animal prints:

Moderation is the key.  A little goes a long way. It is easy to overwhelm a room rather than compliment it with animal prints. Be sure to balance the use of animal prints with mostly solids rather than competing busy prints.

Limit a single space to one animal print design. A combination of two or three prints can be used if represented on accent pieces, accessory items, or as color coordinates in a monochromatic setting.

Be selective about the animal print you choose and how you plan to use it.

Decide if you prefer a more vibrant or subdued pattern. If you are a little shy about using an animal print, try incorporating it in a more conservative way in your room rather than on a larger statement piece.

Determine if your space is more suited for the timeless, classic animal prints or perhaps the new, alternative color choices.

Okay, so how well did you do identifying the six animal prints in the photo above, near the beginning of the post?

Answers from left to right:  Zebra, Tiger, Giraffe, Cheetah, Leopard, and Jaguar

Were you stumped by the final three?  That’s not unusual. Even designers often mix up the identities of the cheetah, leopard and jaguar patterns.

Here’s an easy way to distinguish between them:

Cheetah:  The spots are solid black dots that are fairly consistent in size and somewhat evenly spaced on a soft brown, pale gold, and even sometimes whitish background.

Leopard:  The spots are more complex than the cheetah. They are also evenly spaced overall, but different, because the spots are not solid. They have a black outer ring with a horseshoe-like appearance. There is usually a brown spot in the middle of each ring.

Jaguar:  Spots are similar to a leopard, but the black ring surrounding the spots is not solid, it is broken. The center brown spots within the rings are much larger and may contain some smaller black spots within them.

Now you can impress others with your animal print expertise!

Consider cuddling up to the idea of bringing animal prints into your home.  Be brave…there’s nothing to fear!

By Sandi Wallace

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