Animal magic

PA Photo/Handout

PA Photo/Handout

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The trend for featuring 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.

“Safari-style prints, such as leopard or zebra, are one of our favourite variations on the theme. The trend works best in patterned cushions, rugs or smaller pieces of upholstered furniture.”

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 .”

Animals, in all shapes and sizes, which have featured in fashion collections over the last few seasons, could be regarded as the decor equivalent of comfort food; what’s not to like about beautiful beasts. And pet images appeal to our nurturing instincts and desire for protective sanctuaries.

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 allow them to make a statement.”

Animals on homeware won’t bite, but this style can be highly addictive. Simply pick one or two, and rest assured - no animals have been harmed in the making of these items!

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