Animal Magic

If you’re looking for a wild and wacky way to cosy up your living room, animal themed prints are the perrrfect option this winter, says Corinne Card

The country crowd are famously fond of their taxidermy, with antlers and feathers around every corner. But for us city dwellers, the prospect of using real animals to decorate our homes can seem irksome to say the least. Here are some expert tips on bringing your living room to life, without any little creatures losing theirs. No animals were harmed in the making of this feature…

BACK TO BASICS

 When planning a zoologically-inspired living room scheme, experts agree that it is wise to opt for a neutral background. This way, you can layer different animal graphics without the overall look becoming too busy, or even change to a whole new colour palette using different accessories. Lizzie Evans, founder of lifestyle store SMUG, says: “When it comes to incorporating animal graphics into an interior, be it framed prints, knitted cushions or screen printed curtains, go bold but remember: less is more. Your best starting point would be white walls, wooden floor boards or a neutral carpet and a solid colour sofa. Brown leather, cream wool or cotton mix fabrics are always in fashion.”

PICK YOUR PALETTE

 If you’re using quirky animal designs then making sure they fit within a colour scheme you love is vital. “Plan your colour palette,” says interior stylist Pippa Jameson. “What colours do you like and what is your existing décor? If you are looking for on trend colours then buy a few interiors magazines and see what’s hot.”

 Keeping colours balanced throughout is also a sensible option, meaning you can use a variety of patterns and fabrics to add interest. “The key to incorporating quirky designs such as dogs or birds into a scheme is a balanced colour palette”, says interior designer Sally Green of Tweed Lounge. “I like to juxtapose a wide range of wool fabrics, from dog tooths and tweeds to checks and pin-stripes. So long as the colour palette remains constant throughout the scheme, you can combine different patterns.”

 Evans agrees that planning your colour palette in advance is a good way of retaining a chic look, especially when grouping animal-themed items. “When including animal prints into a room, you might like to group them,” she says. “But try to make groups based on colour palette as opposed to subject matter”.

PLUMP FOR CUSHIONS

 One soft furnishing rule interior designers tend to agree upon is the warmth and style a well-chosen group of cushions can bring to your living room. Using an animal theme is a great way to bring your scheme together, and positioning your cushions in a stylish way is an additional designer trick which can make a big difference to the overall look. According to Evans, cushions should always be placed together at one end, or at the corner of a sofa, as this gives a lengthening effect. “This also allows the look to be light and fresh and not too dominant,” she says. “If you have three cushions,” adds Evans, “make a pair and place one at the opposite end.” However you choose to organise them, this season’s animal-themed prints are bound to add impact to your living room, as well as helping to create a friendly and cosy environment to snuggle down in during the winter. Beatrix Potter would be proud.