One widespread and growing decorating trend revolves around all things animal. Although accenting interiors with animals is nothing new. Neanderthals decorated caves with animal drawings. Egyptians decorated with camels, jackals and cats. Asian inspired home decorators opt for displaying tigers or dragons.
Consider the tradition of decorating with hunting trophies, still alive today. If you're not a fan of the hunting-lodge look there are kinder and gentler ways to add animal inspiration, from artwork to textiles and ceramics.
There's even faux taxidermy, which takes the old-world tradition of hunting trophies to a very fun place.
You can find pretty much any animal represented in home decor but some are more popular than others. Last time I checked Etsy, the on-line market place for handmade design, offered up to 198,650 items with owl in the description. The count for foxes is 57,668 and 18,173 for squirrels.
Birds have always been "in" but none is so popular these days as the owl; owls printed on pillows, on coffee mugs and blankets, owls as lamps, vases and salt & pepper shakers. Some speculate owls are popular in the design world because they figure strongly in the magical world of Harry Potter.
Interior designer Abigail Ahern uses all kinds of animals in her designs but she especially loves using dogs. One of her inspirations is her miniature schnauzer Mungo. For Ahern, the reason to decorate with animals is simple: to cheer up a room. "Interiors can be a snooty old business," says Ahern. "Plonk an animal on a table and you've lifted the spirits and made yourself smile at the same time."
Robyn Waffle and Yvan Semenowycz modeled their Toronto design studio Totem around the emotional connections people develop with animals, not only pets but animals from the wild, too. "We care about this truth and invite people to custom design rugs and tapestries inspired by their beliefs, their interests and their heritage."
For their own designs they take inspiration from "spirit" animals. In pagan religions and systems a spirit animal or totem is an animal that represents the traits and skills you have or wish to embody, and connecting with your spirit animal is a quest undertaken by countless people for thousands of years.
There are websites here and here to help you figure out what your spirit animal might be. One of the biggest clues is the animal you are continuously drawn to or one that starts unexpectedly showing up in your life.
I'm a cat lover but these are the only cats you will find in our home's decor (other than the real ones):
The Asian elephant, on the other hand, is featured in more than a few rooms around here. Simon brought the first elephant into our home.
The second was a house warming present from a friend.
I purchased this cotton throw and only noticed the elephants once I had it home and spread out on a bed.
Then I began purposely buying things with an Asian elephant motif.
Once you determine your spirit animal the next step is to learn about its symbolic wisdom and then harness this knowledge to help you make decisions, confront difficult situations and reach goals.
The elephant offers a wealth of symbolic wisdom. One such bit of wisdom is gathered from watching it in nature. Specifically, the female elephant is seen as a symbol of responsibility because she takes great care of her offspring AND elders.
I decided to ditch the idea to do a blog post about spirit animals in home decor and my curious collection of Asian elephants. Moments later something made me change my mind.
While cleaning out an old suitcase my youngest son discovered something inside. In his hand was a tiny stone elephant. We'd never seen it before.
I then recalled what I had read: you don't choose your spirit animal, it chooses you. I was beginning to believe it!
Thanks to elephant wisdom I just booked a plane ticket to visit my almost 86 year-old father, who lives on his own.