Pet Peeves in Decorating: When Design Goes to the Dogs, Leopards and Zebras


I love my dog more than frozen yogurt or vacations at the Four Seasons resort in Punta Mita, and that is saying a hell of a lot. But I have a pet peeve about styling decor with images of animal friends, like my precious Pug. I won’t accent a chair with a silkscreen pillow of his highness like the ones available at Etsy or commission pet portraits to join our family dynasty of oils on the walls. To be fair, the same goes for my aging arthritic cat, Audrey Jane. When I want to recall her placid, green glassy eyes and wanton yearning for a dead spider, a lovely photograph will suffice.

Animal ambiance is just not my cup of kibble. The ubiquitous practice of borrowing from both the domestic and wild animal kingdoms for home decor should be buried for good. Herewith, my top pet peeves in decorating:

Oil Memories

Remember when our little equestrian, Pepper, took the fifth prize in stadium jumping on Liberty Bell? Remember when old Harpo escaped the wrath of the kids by resting on the deck? If you don’t, you must have forgotten to order a large oil portrait from that digital photo. It’s just like a real painting, except it’s not. Think paint-by-numbers and a perfect 10 in sappy.


Antler Furniture

Home on the range for the deranged. Cover your bases with something other than dead animal cartilage, the chateaux version of Euro trash. There is eco wood, repurposed metal, and dozens of other surfaces that make a more uplifting statement in the eclectic, well appointed space.


Genuine Skin Rugs

Whether cowhide, zebra or bear, these genuine floor skins give me the willies. Vendors like Hollywood Love Rugs say sales of the rugs are up. But the chic factor takes a back saddle to the tacky factor. Sheepskins that don’t require slaughtering the source are less offensive. Faux is the way to go, a way of saying I dig your stripes and spots without placing coffee tables on the real thing.


Leopard Print Fabrics

Even when it’s high quality, such as this upholstery velvet  from Old World Weavers, safari glam is just pretentious and cheesy, evoking Out of Africa set design in this English Regency ottoman. It went out with leather rhinos from Abercrombie & Fitch.


Trophies on the Walls

Is a Scalamandre room any richer with an African trophy mounted on the toile wallpaper? I get a headache just looking at taxidermy treasures, even though some designers argue they cannot forgo them when styling upscale rustic lodges or taverns.


Main Image: Flock Home

Images: Seattle Times, Guaranteed Portraits, Scalamandre, 1st Dibs

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.