While our design firm often focuses on timeless, warm modernism, in my own home I’m drawn to a more baroque and maximalist approach, including no small number of animal-themed objects. Iconic animal prints and objects loom large in my design imagination, particularly the coral-colored zebra Scalamandre wallpaper from The Royal Tenenbaums (yes, now available in peel-and-stick form).
This is the first of two columns focusing on animal-themed décor. Below, some of my favorite whimsical, bold, and playful animal-themed pieces, including some horse-printed sheets and an armadillo pillow.
H&M is my reliable source for kids sheets, and sometimes it has knockout animal patterns. My all-time favorite is this horse print in an unexpected pink-and-rust color scheme (it goes in and out of stock), but I also love this bold leopard pattern and educational animal print.
I could write a whole article on tiger rugs, from Tibetan hand-tufted wool rugs on Etsy to Amazon Prime bathmats. This tiger rug from Ferm Living is a standout for its lovely puffball tail, and its fearsome expression and stance. It looks as good on the floor by a bed as it does as a centerpiece wall hanging.
Every time I look at this chair, I feel a surge of delight — how could you not love its cute face?! Reminiscent of Charles and Ray Eames’s iconic molded-plywood elephant (the inspiration for this entire list), the animal’s face is abstracted into a smooth shape that forms the back leg and the side panels. Its pale maple-wood finish is right at home with the Ikea kids’ furniture you probably already have.
When I moved into my home, we spent weeks peeling faded floral wallpaper from every surface (not the good grand-millennial kind, the bad metallic and textured kind), and I vowed to never use wallpaper again. The emergence of high-quality peel-and-stick wallpaper has made me break my promise; much easier to install and remove, these products work well in children’s rooms, where you might want to revamp the décor after a couple years. This peel-and-stick paper comes in dog and cat prints, and its softly doodled style is at home in playful, fun-filled kids’ rooms.
This armadillo pillow comes from Christian Robinson’s underappreciated capsule collection at Target. I’ve loved his work since my family read Last Stop on Market Street and Gaston, two books that showcase his beautiful illustrations with a gentle, handmade feel. There are a lot of standout kids’ room pieces in his collection, including these fantastic caterpillar floor pillows that have become a fort-building staple, but my favorite is this armadillo pillow made of a strong upholsterylike fabric. He’s been an excellent headrest, tea-party guest, and (briefly) dog toy.
Truly, if this side table doesn’t make you smile, you must be dead inside. With its smooth rattan weave and softly curved forms, it’s a charming place for a bedside book to rest.
A few years ago, artist Sharon Montrose’s front-on baby-animal portraits became ubiquitous in nurseries. I would skip the “Little Darlings” portraits and go straight for these less-cute full-body animal portraits. With their studio backgrounds and abundant void space, these are more interesting and more quiet, and can be a more timeless addition to a child’s room.
These wildly offbeat rugs from Portuguese company Gur make really good tapestries for hanging behind the bed. I’m quite partial to their Animalphabet letter-creature hybrids and the kooky dog and cat pieces from a collaboration with artist Marta Monteiro. They make a fantastic diptych.
There are a lot of animal heads out there, from chunky felted wool to realistically terrifying cast resin. This toucan, crisply designed in layered patterns, applique, and embroidery, feels more like a folk-art object. The playful colors and prints play off each other, and it makes a great piece for above a bed or mixed with kid-made art on a gallery wall.
Slowdown Studio, an Aussie-in-L.A. housewares store, is known for its large woven cotton blankets, which you’ve seen in many an Instagram abode. It’s also launched a kid-friendly line in a soft cotton-poly blend, particularly this banana-wild motif and this snake blanket with its eyeball emblem. We keep woven baskets of spare blankets in the corner of our family room, as they are frequently in demand for games of hide-and-seek.
Large stuffed animals can be best buddies for snuggling, comforting pillows in bed and on car trips, and repeat players in adventures around the house. Over the years, we’ve loved big sloths and giant Green Guys (that’s his given proper name), and our new favorite is this mega-octopus from Meri Meri, with its soft organic cotton knit body, its curious little eyes, and its endless arms for tug of war.