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I grew up in a suburb of Memphis, Tenn., — not necessarily in the country, but nowhere near the city. And both of my parents were born and raised in Kentucky out near bales of hay and chickens. The decor of my house growing up could best be defined as A Product of The Eighties, meaning tons of teal and pink and decorative borders everywhere. And my mom liked to hang baskets and farm equipment from the ceiling in the kitchen:


I’m sorry you had to be exposed to that photograph. If it makes you feel any better, I had to LIVE IN that photograph. You’ll be happy to know I’ve discovered hair product since then. And no longer hike my shorts up to my armpits.

One of my mother’s favorite things to add to a shelf or tabletop was a ceramic rooster. Or maybe a pig made out of solid iron. Even now her kitchen and living room are teeming with them, and to poke fun I will occasionally pretend that one has jumped off the mantel and is strangling me. She won’t admit to finding this funny. She also won’t admit how many times she has flashed an inappropriate hand gesture my way.

Sometimes her animal-themed decor will branch out beyond farm animals, but only rarely. As in the case of this brown bear toilet paper holder:


The tone of this may have you thinking that I don’t like decorating with anything animal-related. And that is not at all what I’m saying. I happen to think farm animals ring a bit country, and if that is your taste, then you go right ahead and break out your favorite cross stitch of bow-tie wearing chickens. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a festive farm animal dressed like a tap dancer.

I’m kidding, country designers! Sort of.

I have personally tried to mix it up a bit, and in just about every corner of my house you’ll see some sort of animal figurine or print of an exotic bird. In fact, I think designers have really stepped it up in recent years in terms of animal-themed decor to the point that you could fill a room with everything “animal” and not look like someone’s crazy Aunt Maureen who got a little carried away in the gift shop at the Miami airport.

I did a little looking around and collected examples of things I’d use if redesigning a room in my own home. Some of it is eclectic, some a bit whimsical, some really elegant. Some of it is even traditional. But sorry, Mom, the ceramic rooster didn’t make the cut.

See the slide show here.
See a list of individual items here.


Design Inspiration

69 Responses

  1. Kstrychnine says:

    Gill forgot his prune juice thins morning.

  2. @SaltySpoon says:

    What, no hippos?

    I kid. I tend to stray away from animals in our home decor, though we do have a giant painting of moths in the dining room. I have a feeling our children will be terrified of it.

  3. Caroline, No. says:

    This reminds me of so many things from my own childhood. Including the jeans crime. :p

  4. Annie says:

    I grew up about 3 hours outside of Memphis in a small Missouri town. Memphis was the biggest "city" for miles and miles.

    I don't think there is a house within spitting distance of my parent's that does not feature some sort of barnyard animal within the kitchen or bathroom…and probably the living room as well.

  5. Nina says:

    I'm not mad at the bear, but I am mad at those place mats. Tell me it was 4th of July.

  6. sweetsalty kate says:

    I wish they made acid-wash wallpaper. That would be totally rad.

    (giggling) (not at you) (well maybe a little) (are those pleats?)

    Your mom and my mom were separated at birth, except my mom doesn't do hand gestures. She only quilts. Vigorously.

  7. Amber, theAmberShow says:

    That bear toilet paper holder rocks my world so hard. He is so friendly and gracious. "Here you are!" he says, "Wipe your behind and have a great day!"

    Toilet paper and a smile. Win.

  8. Sarah P says:

    Can we also talk about the toilet paper holder on the American flag-inspired … throw rug? placemat?

  9. @laraineking says:

    What is it about hanging baskets and vintage kitchen utensils from the ceiling? My mom did the same thing.

  10. are you winking in that picture? how YOU doin?

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