Out Of Africa: Exotic Animal Prints And Patterns For Your Upholstery

This will be a fun one! We had such a good time with our recent post celebrating African art and design we’d like to splash around in those possibilities a bit more. A leopard may not be able to change its spots, but you for sure can change the look and vibe of any of the spaces where you thrive. So as January winds to a close, let’s take your design game on a trip to faraway lands with some textiles steeped in exotic animal prints and patterns, and luxurious leathers, both faux and the real thing. 

Because maybe—when you let yourself dream a little dream—you’d like a just little bit more exotic and exciting in your life, but you’re not quite sure how to get there with your home or office upholstery. We’ve got taken care of. We’ll get you inspired and empowered as we go through some examples of different textiles and ideas on how to use them well.

Let the Safari begin!

Fabrics You Can Use To Give Your Furniture That Safari Feeling

As we embark, a quick refresher. Remember that—thanks to the boldness of African-inspired prints and patterns—you can create powerful shifts in a room’s design tone with relatively small changes. So, really, adding any of the ideas ahead will make a big difference. Pick whatever strikes your fancy and go for it. It’s all about accents. 

Which is where your upholstery really comes in. Up first, animal prints and patterns. 

There’s nothing that says “exotic” in a room like animal print upholstery… 

Your favorite reading chair is already your go-to place to spend an afternoon traveling to the far reaches of your imagination. Now make walking in and seeing that chair alone a travel adventure for the eyes. Deck it out with a classic Tiger print in a performance-grade microfiber velvet—it is the Year of the Tiger, after all. Not only will it be cozier than ever, but it’ll also have your guests roaring with excitement (had to do it). 

Yes, it’s bold, but in the right places, just a piece or two will let that African-inspired design shine without throwing a kink in your overall design flow.

Same with something a bit more animal-print-meets-abstract… 

Take this multipurpose navy and white cotton fabric in a swirly animal print conjuring up thoughts of birds, tigers, and more. And try DIY-ing by using it for some drapes. Hang them in an otherwise contemporary or simple space to bring that pop of jungle joy.

Or skip an animal print but bring some of the bold geometric patterns so central to African-inspired design. Bring in some woven jacquard texture with a dynamic diamond pattern but in soothing sand tones. Perfect for your throw pillows or even as a slipcover. Simultaneously eyecatching and grounded in those African earth tones.

And animal prints don’t always need to mimic animal hides… 

They can feature animals themselves. Maybe you just want a small accent piece like a bench for an entryway or your kids’ playroom. Go with something like our cotton Leaf fabric with beige, green, and deep reds staying true to the African-inspired design color palette. And the pattern features a stately but playful cast of lions and tigers and…well…birds, not bears, but that’s still super fun, right? 

Not sure how to reupholster or don’t have a bench? Here’s a DIY vid to get you on your way. 

Let Your Furniture Live African Dreams With Leather & Faux Leather

KOVI Fabrics

For all our love of woven, textured, and pattern fabrics, there’s simply no better way to upgrade your space to exotic than with actual animal hides—or faux hides. There’s such unparalleled performance, character, texture, and that certain oomph and gravitas that dwells in these classic looks. Whether you’re faux (*wink*) or against the use of hides, we’ve got you.

Leather without the hide…

Maybe actual leather hides aren’t your jam. No worries. Bring on the faux animal hides. Take your ottoman to the African plains with pearl white faux leather in Ostrich grain. You’ll be kicking up your feet on a piece positively whispering of savannah chic. 

Or take your office chair from common to crazy cool. Try a faux leather crocodile textured vinyl in ebony. It says bold confidence with both the dark, saturated solids so central to this design style as well as the heavy-duty performance of vinyl.

And one more, just because it’s the quintessential “leather hide” pattern of classic cowhide without all the cow or the hide. Make your loveseat the piece your guests love to talk about—and lounge in—the most. Go with Palomino, a performance velvet in a decidedly classic beige and brown animal hide pattern. It will 100% pop, vibe, and invite.

For the love of leather…

We’ve often explored our love of leather. There’s just something about the feel of it, the way it resists wear and tear, and the patina unique to how you use it that only gets better with time. As the old Marvin Gaye lyric goes, “ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.” What makes it an even better fit for our exploration of the exotic is that it checks all the right African-inspired interior design boxes grounding a space in solid, natural elements. 

Take those armchairs in a rich, classic direction with an Earth tone genuine leather. Those chairs are practically guaranteed to become the cornerstones of your style foundation, anchoring the energy of the room. Plus, it’s corrected grain, Crypton leather, so it’s built to thrive in high-traffic environments.

Or open up the flow and lighten up the look of your home or office with full-grain aniline leather in a Sand color. It’s textured with a crackled finish that gives your sofa that well-loved and ready for lounging vibe. We’re confident many great memories will be made here.

When it comes to bringing in exotic or African design inspiration, just keep nature in mind. From the soil to the sunsets and the trees to the night skies, it’s that natural color palette that will get you there. Stick within that with whatever leather you choose, and you’re on your way.

Your New Style Super Power: African-Inspired Art And Design

With upholstery fabrics alone, you can make your space feel like something out of Africa. Reupholster an accent piece or cover a sofa or chair in a slipcover with animal prints and patterns, faux hide, or genuine leather.

And one last thing worth repeating from our recent post on the broad strokes of using African-inspired art and design. These colors and patterns say enough on their own. Keep it simple. Too much is just that, too much. That’s great news because it means a little goes a long way.

Let yourself explore and stamp your design passport by dialing up your Savannah style. We can almost hear the elephants trumpeting their celebratory calls for your room from here. And we’d love to hear your call whenever you’re ready to go adventuring for the right fabric for your African-inspired upgrade.

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