Style at Home: Getting wild with textiles

By Katie Laughridge
Tribune News Service
Animal prints play well with others; don’t be afraid to mix and match them into your existing patterns.

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 by highlighting some of my favorite animal prints to make a bold statement with new traditional design.

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. Perhaps that’s why royalty and rock stars have used them.

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!)

To start us off, one print is so versatile 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 to 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 that won’t overshadow other prominent elements.

When used correctly, leopard print can add elegance and luxurious texture to your space.

Last but not least, my love of stripes has led to an influx of zebra print at the shop. While it can be tricky to incorporate due to its stark contrasting design, there are some ways to soften it up. Muted-colored 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 as I would for some of the other animal prints mentioned, small touches on statement ottomans or chairs can bring an exotic flair to your space.

If animal skins are too much to jump into, that’s OK. Sometimes it takes time to build toward a new style. There are many other ways to bring animal prints to your decor, from art prints 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, ask your designer to provide a wild card option — you might be surprised how much you love it!

Adapted from Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s. For more information, contact Katie at