Living Space: 10 cool ways to decorate with cowhide

By Kathryn Weber
Oct. 25, 2012 at 5:25 a.m.
Updated Oct. 26, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.

Cowhide's got you covered when it comes to spicing up an otherwise ho-hum chair.

Cowhide's got you covered when it comes to spicing up an otherwise ho-hum chair.

Chances are, if you've looked in design magazines and trendy decor stores lately, you've spotted cowhide incorporated into contemporary to traditional homes, and as rugs to upholstery material.

It's remarkable how well cowhide works in different settings, and it's available in a wide range of colors. Perhaps best of all, cowhide is usually inexpensive, easy to find and adds a striking touch to any room.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate cowhide into your decor:

  1. Replace your table runner. Place a small cowhide or calfskin on an angle across a table, add an arrangement, a couple of tall candlesticks, and you've got an instant conversation piece.

  2. Hide your dining room chairs. Looking for a cool replacement for standard upholstered chairs? Cowhide's got you covered. Cut with a sharp blade and staple gun onto seats.

  3. Hide a wall. In a small space - maybe a reading nook, a wine bar, or even a half-bath - cowhide can easily be used as an unexpected wall covering.

  4. Display hides as art. Many of the markings on a cow's hide are unique and interesting or have unusual coloring. Using an artist's canvas, stretch a hide around the sides and staple.

  5. Layer your rugs. Placing a cowhide on top of an existing rug adds interest and looks sensational. They look especially warm on top of sisal rugs.

  6. Warm up techno decor. If you have a sleek, contemporary office with lots of tech appeal, a cowhide makes a fabulous contrast. Hang one on a wall or use it as a rug. Too much skin? Toss a couple of cowhide pillows on those Eames chairs for a cozy yet cool touch.

  7. Pursue your animal interests. Cowhides are available in other animal styles, too. You can easily find hides stamped with zebra or tiger stripes and in colors to go with any decor.

  8. Recover cushions. If the dog chewed up the cushions on your favorite leather chair, have them recovered in cowhide. The contrast will look chic and the new cushions will feel great.

  9. Hide your headboard. A cowhide headboard is easy to fashion from a standard fabric-covered headboard - and gives you a soft spot to lean against in bed. Simply wrap and staple.

  10. Jazz up your bath. Who says a rug in the bath has to be cloth? Cowhide can quickly warm up a cold tile floor and looks fabulous, too.

Check out for more ways to use cowhides. Simply put "cowhide" in the search bar and you'll find a treasure trove of ideas. If you're shopping for cowhides, you can find them at Ikea (, Pottery Barn ( and Ebay ( Prices range from $75 to $500.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website,



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