There's a new animal reigning atop home decor.
Cheetah, tiger, and leopard prints and other pieces are sharing space — peacefully — with deer- and moose-inspired merchandise. And while the trend seems made for the coming holiday season, home decor experts expect that it will continue well into next year.
The thought of antlers on a wall might bring to mind elements of taxidermy rather than the trappings of decor. But antlers aren't reserved for man caves and hunting lodges. Experts say that antlers can be used in home design to create an eclectic feel or even to add a splash of color or rich texture to a room.
"Antlers are always popular — especially at the holiday time," said Gary Godbey, manager of Trohv, a home store with locations in Hampden and Washington. "There are so many companies that have jumped on the bandwagon. People have realized how popular they are."
Baltimore-based stylist and interior designer Stephanie Bradshaw has noticed antlers popping up everywhere. Retailers such as Z Gallerie, Abercrombie & Fitch and Anthropologie have incorporated the woodsy pieces in store decor and merchandise alike.
"I definitely have seen a resurgence in their popularity," she said. "You are seeing them in addition to the traditional mounted deer head on the wall."
Surprisingly, few of the recent pieces are made from real animal antlers. Many of them are made from moldings or carved from wood.
"People have realized the environmental implications of using real antlers," Godbey said "And the faux antlers are a lot more inexpensive than the real thing."
Arhaus Furniture, a furnishings store in Harbor East, recently unveiled an extensive collection of antler-inspired pieces. The collection includes an aluminum wall deer head ($199) and a teak candelabra consisting of three-tapered antler shaped candleholders ($299).
Antlers play a prominent role in the store's "nature story," according to Gary Babcock, senior vice president of fashion and merchandising for Arhaus, which is based in Cleveland and has 39 stores nationwide.
"It's gone from the jungle animal themes to more of a woodland animal theme," Babcock explained. "Animal motifs and animal prints are really popular right now. The whole deer trend is part of the Swedish revival featured in the store right now. Everything has a Northern European feel right now."
Antlers will be perfect for the color-scheme shift that Babcock expects to see in home design.
"Now, gray colors are popular," he said. "Eventually, people are going to get tired of the neutrals and will want to add more color to their lives and rooms. There will be more greens and teals. Deer and moose antlers go with that perfectly. It also goes perfectly with all of the recycled woods that we are using in the stores."
Godbey said that antlers can be incorporated with ease.
"Add a throw pillow. Use the [deer pattern] gift wrap. It's an inexpensive, instant change to your home," he said. "They are also a good way to be festive during the holidays."
Godbey stressed that antlers can be a permanent piece of your home decor. For example, a cardboard deer sculpture ($54) would be perfect for a child's room; and an aluminum coat rack ($40) is "perfect all year long," he added.
Godbey's customers and friends have been attracted to plain faux antlers to spray paint them and transform them into funky accent pieces.
"It makes it look like a new item," he said. "It's fantastic."
Babcock advises the use of antlers sparingly.
Style points: Antlers not just for the lodge
Antler-inspired pieces lead animal theme trend for home
This aluminum wall deer head is $199 at Arhaus. (Arhaus Furniture, Baltimore Sun / August 28, 2011)