Ethical Debate: Decorating with Cowhides

Whether to say yes or no to cowhides is always a debate in the decorating community.  I recently posted about covering some vintage director's chairs in cowhide but I know it's certainly not for everyone. 

In our home, we eat meat.  We try to buy meat that's been raised and killed ethically and to incorporate more vegetarian alternatives into our diet but we are still omnivores.  We also deal with raw meat constantly because we feed Barkley a natural raw diet.  This was a big decision for us and it has forced us to get over the "yuck factor" we had felt in the past about raw meat.  To give you an idea, below is a picture of Barkley eating a beef pizzle (if you need to ask, you seriously don't want to know) on a cowhide in our bedroom that has been dyed to look like a zebra print rug.  Can it get any meatier than that?

Cowhides are at home in many modern interiors but for us, their best feature is the fact that they're easy to clean.  We can spot clean them with mild soap and water as long as they air dry naturally.  They are very difficult to stain... and we should know because I spill things everywhere and Barkley went through a phase of having passive-aggressive "accidents" in the house last year.  These are seriously the easiest rugs to own!  While I can understand why some people compare them to taxidermy, I just don't see it that way.

Still, we are animal lovers and we do constantly question our comfort level with cowhides in home decor.  It is probably something we'll revisit many times over the years but, for now, we're loving them and throwing them down all over the place. 

There are many blog posts on the topic but here are a few of my favourites:

  • Apartment Therapy shows some great rooms which hit a range of styles, but all include a cowhide in this post.
  • Bloesem asks the question in a post and the reader responses are quite interesting.
  • My talented cousin Chris, the creator of StyleNorth has posted about cowhides in decorating a couple of times.  He is the person who first introduced me to the Tandy Leather Factory and I followed the tips in his blog and joined the wholesale club in order to save money on my purchase. 
Speaking of Tandy, I highly recommend it as a source.  The hides are thick and good quality (like night and day from what they sell at Ikea) and the staff are helpful, the selection is HUGE and I found the customer support and return policies to be exceptional.  They have a few locations but I believe Mississauga is the largest in the GTA.

Here's some information, for those who may be thinking of making the trip:

Tandy Leather Factory
5562 Tomken Rd
Mississauga, ON L4W-1P4

Phone: 905-625-3700
Fax: 905-625-4030
Toll Free: 866-608-8822

Store Hours:
Monday-Friday: 8am - 5pm
Saturday: 9am - 4pm
Sunday: Closed

So what do you think?  Are cowhides fabulous, gross or somewhere in between?

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  1. We haven't had cowhides at home but I think it's beautiful.

  2. We think they possess a natural beauty too! Nature does it best!

  3. I don't care about your rug- I mean it's lovely but doesn't inspire me with envy or hate or anything at all really- but can I please have your dog? He's just beautiful!

    1. LOL! Yes, we far prefer Barkley to any rug. He's actually the reason we have so many rugs and runners. I like bare floors but he slips on them so we need to find creative ways to give him little landing pads.

      He's a greyhound and was rescued from a race track in Alabama. They make gentle and calm pets. We can't wait to adopt another!

  4. We have a cowhide rug too, and I agree..they are the easiest things in the world to take care of! Seriously, spills just wipe right off of them! I'm an animal lover, but I'm totally on board with you!

    1. I bought my first one for purely aesthetic purposes but I was shocked when I asked about maintenance and the manager of the warehouse explained how easy it is. I couldn't give them up if I wanted to!

  5. Hi Thea,
    I just read your amazing article. This is really very useful for the readers like me. All the hair hide you captured and posted here are really gorgeous looking. I am thinking of getting one kind of them. Already visited a good numbers of.Cow skin rug providers. Hopefully your brilliant content will be very helpful for taking a good decision to purchase it. Thank you very much.

  6. This blog has nice information I really like it. Thanks for sharing.
    Best quality animal skin carpets

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