Whether you think of a rug as a starting point or a finishing touch, there’s no denying its power to transform a room. One of our favorite styles that can work in a variety of spaces? Cowhide rugs. It truly is a jack-of-all-trades. Layer a faux cowhide rug over a classic woven sisal, for instance, and a traditional space feels infinitely chicer. On its own, a cowhide rug could be the subtle dose of pattern you need to round out otherwise busy or eclectic decor.
In other words, every well-dressed room needs a rug. It serves a grounding stylish addition, while also providing texture and warmth to your floors. Not only are they a trendy and easy stand-in for a full-out reno, but a faux cowhide may be an easier way to incorporate one than you think.
A hot home-decor ticket in Argentina and originally fashioned out of cured cow skin (hence the name), modern and more humane versions of the cowhide rug are typically made of polyester with a suede backing underneath, and patterns that are either acid washed, natural, or stenciled. The big draw of the cowhide has been how durable it is (spotted versions are fantastic at camouflaging stains), but its low profile and wide-ranging colors and patterns mean it also blends seamlessly with any decor style. Yes, that even means the most minimalist spaces.
To prove it, we’ve rounded up five rooms that fit a variety of decor aesthetics that use a cowhide rug as its centerpiece. From a Hollywood Regency-style living room that is grounded with a neutral hue to a colorful entry stairway lined with a funky cowhide runner, this design proves its flexibility and durability.
The look may be distinct, but few rugs prove to be as versatile. Behold, the case for the cowhide:
A zebra-print cowhide runner lines the stairway in the entryway of BURU founder Morgan Hutchinson’s Salt Lake City abode. Hutchinson, who runs the e-commerce site with her husband, Brett, mused on her home’s perfect pattern clash in a chat with Lonny. "Color makes me happy,” she says. “I would like to think it also makes my family and guests happy when they are in the space. My dream word for others to describe our house would be just that — HAPPY."
Hutchinson describes it as a box of Skittles; we like call it eclecticism 101.
Back in the entryway, an equally graphic ikat rug is a surprising complement to the cowhide runner, while a balloon display ups the liveliness even further.
Pop art and a sofa upholstered in a classic ticking stripe already feel like an unexpected combination, but fashion photographer Ben Watts threw a steamer trunk and a cowhide rug into the mix of his living room decor. Throughout the beach house in Montauk, New York, industrial flourishes serve as a counterpoint (and, no doubt, a topic of conversation) to the home’s more New England-style elements.
According to Hamptons Magazine, Watt’s collaborated with interior designer Staci Dover to furnish the house with classic pieces that would stand the test of time (oh hey, cowhide), later punching it up with his own collection of art and accents. Among them: A hot pink boom box, Day of the Dead-inspired works, and his own photographs, of course.
How do you pull together splashy pieces like a Vladimir Kagan floating sofa, vintage chairs from Arredamenti Corallo, and a painting by Danvy Pham? Gather them around a black and white cowhide rug as Bare Collection’s Jeet Sohal did inside her Hancock Park home.
The rug’s colorway feels just as classic as the home’s formal features — think: wood panelling, gold-painted molding, and leaded glass windows — while giving the living room a little edge. While pops of mint, purple, and red bring the space into an eclectic palette, the natural rug ties it all together.
In fact, Sohal, who decorated the home herself, managed to strike the perfect balance between stately design and modern approachability, and she says she kept it all cohesive by using a bold color palette throughout the house.
Minimalist Meets Scandinavian
For some it’s considered minimalist, for others it’s bohemian Scandinavian. What’s indisputable is how this bedroom's bone cowhide rug anchors this space.
All-white walls created a dreamy backdrop for Ford to layer on all the texture. Ford says this is the secret to a minimalist home with personality. “You don’t have to have much in your home for it to feel warm," she shares. "The key is woods, stones, cozy textures, and shades of white for all of that to shine off of.” The result is a dreamy space perfect for cozying up at the end of the day.
It’s hard to imagine anything but the black-and-white zebra rug Victoria De La Fuente chose as the centerpiece of her West Village living room. But in actuality, any variation of a cowhide rug would work alongside the clean-lined furniture and millennial-pink walls throughout the cozy apartment.
Blending contemporary artwork with a few mid-century modern flourishes and loads of soft accents, De La Fuente says her home is an extension of her personality.
One other influence that helps tie the look together? Travel. “Having lived in over seven different cities [over the years], I try to get something local at every place I live at or visit,” she says. Thankfully, cowhides are also easy to tuck away into a spare suitcase.