Make room for animal magic

Digital print cushion covers, £55, Graham & Green. Available from September

Digital print cushion covers, £55, Graham & Green. Available from September

First published in Life Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Lifestyle editor

It began innocently enough when, a few years ago, deer – or rather their heads – started being spotted in Oxfordshire homes, but now there's a whole menagerie of animals vying for space indoors. Jaine Blackman joins the hunt

The trend for featuring all creatures great and small is gathering pace, with dogs leading the pack, closely followed by owls, with foxes, squirrels and rabbits bringing up the rear.

Want something really wild? Designers have also given lions, elephants, tigers, zebra and even wolves freedom to roam on wallpapers, fabrics and accessories.

“Having played a supporting role in a series of micro-trends earlier this year, animal motifs have evolved into a trend of their own,” says Katie Watson, interior designer at furniture group, Fishpools. “From the domestic to the exotic, animal prints are proving a popular choice, appearing on everything from fabrics to furniture.”

It’s certainly catching on.

“In our country homes we are seeing an increase of chic animal prints and accessories such as our noticeboards and cushions made in Oxfordshire,” says Alison Green, of Twist Interiors, based in Chipping Norton.

Of course, celebrating animals in interiors isn’t really new. It’s been a tradition since the days of stately homes and hunting trophies, but the emergence of faux taxidermy has made it acceptable and hugely fashionable, points out Claire Hornby, creative stylist at Barker & Stonehouse.

“One of the boldest statements is the re-emergence of the fashion for mounted animal heads,” she says. “Modern techniques mean animal heads can be realistically crafted in cardboard, metal, acrylic and wood. These can be true-to-life, or funky if they’re in bright colours or patterns."

With so much creature chic on offer, it’s all too easy to have the patter of paws throughout your interior, but, Hornby advises against overindulging animal instincts. “You don’t want to turn your home into the equivalent of a visual safari park or, worse, something resembling a grown-up nursery. A little goes a long way with this look, so balance bold animal prints with plenty of neutral space,” she says. “This will prevent them overwhelming a room, but still make a statement.”

Oxford Mail:
Wolf cushion, £18, Fishpools

PET PALACE

Even devoted owners will admit pets can be high maintenance. With feline or canine accessories, you get all the charm but none of the mess.

Dogs are definitely having their day, with different breeds featuring on everything from cushions to fabric. Ahern’s Black Flocked Mastiff Lamp, £85, Debenhams, would certainly attract attention. You could create a doggy hall of fame with a display of Dog Prints, £55 each, Graham & Green, part of their new range out in September. The monochrome portraits feature 12 breeds, including poodles, beagles and Jack Russells. Their selection of Pets Typography Cushions, also £55 each, say it all for pet lovers, with slogans like All You Need Is A Cat, and Love Me Love My Dog.

If you’re feline the need for a cat, look no further than the purrfect Cat Wearing Scarf Cushion, £14, Next. If all that’s too whimsical for your taste, Dark Horse Head Bookends, £30, Swanky Maison, are a classic and win the elegant style race by a head. One of the more quirky offerings is a Tissington Chair by Little Chairs, £675, upholstered in rather strange x-ray print Grey & Silver Animal Magic fabric. It’s from Pets Pyjamas.

Oxford Mail:
Arthouse Ziggy the Zebra head, £119.99, Fads

WOODLAND WONDERS 

We’re continuing our love affair with nature, and welcoming all things woodland indoors. “This season sees the interior world going wild for woodland, the perfect trend to prepare us for hibernating in cosy sanctuaries during winter,” says Kate Tansley, creative director at Multiyork.

NATURE WATCH 

You won’t have to burrow far to find bunnies. Add creature comfort with an Kissing Rabbits Blanket, £85, Anorak, or make a table appealing with Wild Rabbit Salt And Pepper Pots, £14.99, The Oak Room.

If you can’t decide on one, the key players in the forest - deer, rabbit, squirrel and fox - all cavort on a Magpie Forest Friends set of four plates, £19.99, Mollie & Fred. Look wise with a pair of Gisela Graham Owl Book Ends, £28, Debenhams (available September).

Oxford Mail:
Little Chairs, £675, from www.petspyjamas.com

SAFARI STYLE

If pets and wildlife are too tame, there’s a zoo full of big beasts who could put the grrr into your decor, and have you walking around your lounge whispering David Attenborough-style, as you point out different species – a tiger (cushion) lurking on the sofa, a lion (duvet cover) on a bed. Set the scene with an exotic wallpaper from new company, A Shade Wilder. A Treetops Jungle Night paper, £95 a roll, depicts silhouettes of monkeys swinging through vines, and a Monkey Cushion Jungle Night, £25, matches it well.

Deer heads are feeling the heat as other species encroach on their territory, and one of their competitors is zebra. Ziggy The Zebra 3D, £120, Arthouse, is a great example.

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