Design Rules: Add Zebra for Instant Glam

Scientists study animal characteristics to help them develop useful new technologies.

For example, observing how geckos climb walls is yielding new advances in materials, which may soon enable firefighters to leave the ladder at home.

As it turns out, looking to nature for your decorating inspiration is also a terrific way to spice up a room lacking a certain pizzazz. As an example, wild zebras’ stripes are advantageous because they confuse would-be predators. In fact, those darn stripes have the same property when used in your parlor, confusing your mother-in-law, perhaps, who will see not a bland, boring room but a sexy, sophisticated milieu with a touch of ’20s glam. Let’s see her try to evolve around that one.

Zebra has been a hot trend for the past couple years (and I happen to believe it’s timeless), but if black and white zebra stripes aren’t your thing, Design Rules allows for a wide variety of animal prints: Snake skin, giraffe spots and leopard skin will all add an exotic sophistication to your space.

Start small if you must, a photo frame, pencil box or perhaps a pillow. If you’re ready to get wild, carpet your den with leopard wall-to-wall; I practically guarantee (but in no legally binding way) once installed, you won’t even want to change its spots.

Because the look is so very fashionable, it’s easy to find pieces at retailers like Williams Sonoma Home, Neiman Marcus and Jayson Home & Garden. If you prefer vintage or antique hides, please visit your local vintage stores, auction houses and websites like eBay and Craig’s List.

A version of this story first appeared on Strange Closets, a design blog about people.