How to decorate with animal prints – interior designer's tips on tastefully embracing this 2024 comeback trend

Animal print is back in a big way – here's how interior designers are introducing it to schemes

How to decorate with animal print tastefully
(Image credit: House of Hackney/TROVE by Studio Duggan & Emily Bowden)

2024 is the year of maximalist and lived-in spaces, but it also sees the return of a rather unexpected trend. Animal prints are back in style, but how can you introduce them to your schemes in a way that feels tasteful rather than tacky?

When done right, this interior design trend can add character and personality to a room – for some interior designers, animal print can even act as a neutral when introduced in a sophisticated way. Whether you're a fan of pattern drenching, prefer an unexpected, playful addition to a room, or simply want to add interest to a plain scheme, animal prints are a perfect addition.

From eclectic designs featuring leopard print wallpaper to upholstered furniture and playful designs, here's how to introduce animal print into your home tastefully.

7 ways to add animal print to your home

Animal print decor is nothing new, but this revival of the trend comes with new interpretations. Bold, eccentric spaces are no longer the only ones welcoming animal prints – elegant schemes and more minimalist designs are also finding a place for them, and these designer-approved spaces are all the proof you need for why they're proving popular.

1. Introduce a leopard print rug

Living room painted navy blue with contrasting white plaster moulding

(Image credit: LP & Co Design/Angela Newton Roy Photography)

If you want to introduce animal print into your home in a way that feels subtle and paired back, opt for something that doesn't feature bold hues. 'I believe leopard print is a neutral! Or at least it can be,' says Liz Potarazu, CEO and principal designer of the Maryland-based LP + Co.

'If your space is already bold and you need a textural element that compliments but doesn’t overwhelm you, try a neutral leopard print rug. It’s grounding, elegant, and fun,' she adds. 

This living room scheme is a great example – the teal walls paired with the bold yellow chairs add vibrancy to the room, while the leopard print rug grounds the space and offers a lightness that creates a cohesive finish.

2. Upholster furniture in animal print fabric

Bedroom decorated with an animal print ottoman

(Image credit: Studio Duggan/Sarah Griggs)

Introducing animal print into a scheme in a tasteful way means taking a considered approach. Instead of adding lots of small decor items, why not opt for an accent piece, such as a chair or ottoman, to introduce a small but impactful amount of pattern.

'In our opinion, utilizing animal print effectively requires thoughtful consideration and a restrained approach. If animal print is not used appropriately within a space, it has the potential to diminish the room's quality,' says Kailee Blalock & Taylor Troia, founders of House of Hive Design Co.

'We would use animal print through furniture and true hides. An accent chair or an ottoman are great places to experiment with different patterns and would boast an animal print well. True hides used as rugs like a cowhide are classic ways to debut an animal print in any space,' they add.

3. Create a feature wall with animal print wallpaper

Bedroom decorated with animal print wall covering and jewel tone hues

(Image credit: Sasha Bikoff Interior Design)

Animal print can add a beautiful texture to a maximalist design – consider a leopard print wallpaper paired with rich jewel tones for a tasteful scheme. 'I believe animal prints are somewhat neutral and can pair with any color, texture, or contrasting print,' says interior designer Sasha Bikoff

'Animal print is however bold and commands your attention. In my primary bedroom, I made it the backdrop with wallpaper and I layer over it with various solid textures and monotone colors in terracotta,' she adds.

Pairing a bold animal print with jewel tones and luxurious textures makes that space feel elevated – this works especially well in a bedroom where the layers and sense of coziness feel well-placed.

4. Add animal print through soft furnishings

Living room decorated with an animal print throw pillow

(Image credit: TROVE by Studio Duggan/Emily Bowden)

Some interior design styles benefit from subtle hints of animal print. Annika Bowman, design consultant at Andrew Martin, believes, 'animal print is best used sparingly for maximum impact.' 

'By serving as an accent or focal point, animal print stands out without dominating a scheme, maintaining balance and harmony with other elements. A ‘less is more’ approach ensures the print's longevity,' she adds.

'Opt for accent pieces such as cushions, footstools, and small decorative designs to add visual interest without overwhelming the space. Animal print can help to offset a potentially flat, neutral scheme for a sophisticated look,' Annika suggests. In this scheme, a leopard print cushion has been added to a cream boucle chair. The textures add interest to the scheme, without feeling overwhelming.

5. Pair animal print with pink hues

Animal print sofa paired with pink decor

(Image credit: House of Hackney)

The decor you pair animal print with can really make or break the scheme. Choosing the right hues will create a sense of luxury and intrigue. In this living room color scheme, a leopard print sofa has been paired with a soft pink, adding an elegant addition to the space.

'Here at House of Hackney we consider our leopard print, WILDCARD, to be a staple when working on a scheme. The earthy butterscotch tones are perfect to unify a scheme when pattern clashing or colour drenching,' says Chloe Vince, member of the decorating consultancy team at House of Hackney.

'My favorite pairings currently would be UMBER or DAHLIA from our Art of Nature paint range. These deep hues make it the perfect complimentary color for WILDCARD bringing dark and alluring tones into the interior,' she adds.

6. Make a statement with a leopard print carpet

Leopard print stairway carpet paired with deep green wall paint

(Image credit: House of Hackney)

Certain parts of the home are forgotten about then it comes to adding eclectic design. Entryways and stairways don't need to be boring, and adding animal print into your designs will help to make these spaces feel more cohesive with the rest of your home.

'If you're looking to add a bit of flair to an existing scheme, work our animal print into the the core of a space through our WILDCARD Axminster carpet. While the motif is a true classic, Axminster's combination of traditional, meticulous craftsmanship and only the very best British wool also work to ensure this design will look good for many years to come,' says Chloe.

The leopard print carpet has been successfully introduce to this stairway – paired with the green hues on the walls, the finished scheme feels rich and inviting.

7. Go bold with an animal print sofa

Living room scheme featuring a leopard print sofa

(Image credit: Nina Litchfield Studios)

There are different styles of animal print – while some are bold and maximalist, others are more subtle and paired back. In some cases, it's not even obvious it's animal print until you take a closer look. These pieces are ideal if you're looking to decorate with pattern as part of a more sophisticated scheme.

'I love adding a chair or cushions and when you go all out you must balance it with more subtle fabrics and prints. In my own living room, I have added a green animal print sofa and my husband didn’t realise it was animal print until recently! He just assumed it was a green-printed sofa! So as you can see it can go unnoticed although it’s so strong,' explains interior designer Nina Litchfield.

'I feel depending on how much animal print you have in the room you must cool it down with other accents in the room. If it's a more modern animal print you must add some old nuisances to the room. My green sofa is quite contemporary, so I paired it with a pair of wooden Louis XIV chairs that bring an old weight to the whole room and the contrast really works,' she adds.

Animal print is certainly back on trend, and it can work in schemes, both eclectic and more paired back. Whether you go bold with a leopard print wallpaper, opt for a playful sofa, or keep things simple with soft furnishing, a tasteful design is all about how you style animal print and what you pair it with. So, whether you introduce jewel-toned hues or complimentary colors, have fun decorating with animal print.

Molly Malsom
Content Editor

Molly joined the Homes & Gardens interiors team at the start of 2024 as a content editor. Her undergraduate degree was in Magazine Journalism and Production, which she studied at the University of Gloucestershire. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she worked for two interiors titles across both print and digital channels, writing about a range of topics from room design ideas and decorating trends to the best places to source pre-loved homeware.