Decorating with Animal Decor
“Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!” While that line originally came from The Wizard of Oz, it could also be said whenever one walks into a home décor store.
“The idea of filling your home with animal-themed items has been around for a long time. Even the Egyptians used images of dogs and jackals as art,” says Todd Mack, the owner of the gift shops Foursided and Twosided in Chicago. “I’ve been in the industry for almost 20 years, and I don’t see the trend ever going away.”
That doesn’t mean specific breeds and species don’t have their moment in the spotlight. “The last few years have been dominated by birds, almost to the point of oversaturation,” says Mack. It’s a trend that was satirized by the IFC short-based comedy series “Portlandia,” which featured a sketch called “Put a Bird On It.”
Since the home décor world became self-conscious about the bird obsession, “now everybody wants to move on to something else,” Mack says. So what is next?
“We’re seeing a lot of woodland creatures,” says Sarah Spies, director of vendor and media relations for Renegade Craft Fair, which runs 11 fairs around the country featuring homemade gifts, clothing and home décor items. “We’ve seen an increase in foxes and owls, which are cute but more mysterious than something like a bunny rabbit.”
Each animal also conveys a certain symbolism: Foxes are wily; owls are wise.
Besides forest dwellers, Spies has noticed more aquatic animals, like octopi, whales and sharks. “Sea creatures can be both feminine and masculine, which makes them popular,” she says. Those animals have less-obvious meanings, although sharks are definitely dangerous and octopi are seen as secretive.
No matter the species, it’s hard to go wrong when decorating a home with animals. “They add a touch of whimsy and make people feel happy and connected to nature,” says Julia Marden, community outreach manager for Uncommon Goods, a gift catalog and website. “As trendy as they may seem, items with animals on them also have a timeless quality.”
That doesn’t mean they don’t get a little tiring for those who sell the goods. “In our line of work, when a theme becomes all the rage, we see so much of it,” says Spies. “So it can be a relief when one super-popular animal gets replaced by the next one.”