New to decorating with sheepskin rugs, pillows, and throws? Here are some helpful tips from sought-after interior stylist Hilary Robertson, who created the beautiful, inviting rooms you see in these photos—and in our 2019-2020 catalogs. Robertson has written several books on interiors, has been featured in Architectural Digest, and has contributed to Metropolitan Home, Elle, and other publications. Below, she shares her insights on adding texture and warmth to any space with sheepskin.
“Sheepskin is just so cozy, tactile, and comforting,” says Hilary Robertson, “And everyone needs home to be that, right?” The New York-based interior stylist is known for her muted, contemporary color palette and magpie-like penchant for artfully combining modern pieces with vintage finds. The key to creating inviting rooms, she says, is not being afraid to play with texture.
“All homes need texture and layers, and that’s what sheepskin and cowhide bring,” says Robertson. “I don’t think surfaces should all be hard, shiny, and clean. You need smooth, maybe a bit of shine, and maybe some kind of roughness and matte-ness. That’s what gives a room dimension and soul.”
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4 EASY WAYS
to bring warmth and texture to your home with sheepskin.
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SOFTEN UP HARD CHAIRS
An easy way to start off is by experimenting with single pelts. “Try one on your desk chair, or try some on dining chairs,” says Robertson. “It’s a really great way of softening things up. And if you have a chair that you’re not crazy about, it’s a good way of giving it new life.”
Hardwood and concrete floors take well to sheepskin, too—especially on those extra chilly mornings. “Alongside of a bed is nice,” Robertson says. “I think if you like hardwood floors or concrete floors it’s nice to add a softer layer. And they also come in fabulous colors—just really beautiful, subtle variations.”
“I think the whole Scandinavian look really suits the sheepskins, because it has a lot to do with natural materials and texture,” says Robertson. “It’s always about the shade of white, the shade of black, and the way they’re combined with other textures. I would say that the most important thing in a room is the mixture of textures.”
Sheepskin and rawhide pillows and rugs come in a wide range of textures and patterns. Try a woolly Tibetan lamb pillow or a patterned rawhide to mix things up. Drape a single pelt over the back of the couch, or a chair.
“People would probably be surprised at all the different shapes of sheepskin rugs,” says Hilary. “You can get a complete circle, or you can get the rugs that have the more natural edges. And no two are alike.”
Some modern interiors can feel too stiff, perfect, and formal, says Robertson. A good antidote: incorporating organic elements from the natural world, like shells, stone, coral, and botanicals.
“I’m always looking, whether it’s just pulling in branches from my garden or finding stones on a beach walk, or all those things. Bringing nature inside has really always been a kind of mantra of mine. It connects you to the outside.”
Sheepskin and rawhide pelts work very well in this regard. The stylist has a number of pelts in both her eclectic, elegant Brooklyn brownstone and her Connecticut country home–an old schoolhouse she decorated with a modern rustic flair.
“They’re actually quite pet-friendly,” she says of the cowhides. “I’ve got two cats, and they can ruin a wool woven rug easily, but they don’t seem to do much damage to cowhides.” In her Connecticut home, her sheepskin rugs contrast beautifully with the cedar walls and floors, lending the space a relaxed, laid-back feel. “One of the rugs I’ve had for about twelve years! They’re very practical if you’ve got kids and pets. It’s hard to get them dirty; they’re very forgiving.”
Sheepskin is just so cozy, tactile, and comforting, and everyone needs home to be that, right?
The author of Monochrome Home: Elegant Interiors in Black and White, Robertson generally prefers neutral tones contrasted with subtle colors like soft pink in her own décor. That being said, she says the sky’s the limit when it comes to color and sheepskin.
“I think people have their personal palettes without even knowing it. People are drawn to particular colors. Some people like neutrals, some people like happy colors, some people like hot colors. But I think that’s almost innate, you know?”
She says sheepskin’s natural ivory hue goes well with the Scandinavian aesthetic that inspired Monochrome Home, but that being said, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to incorporating hides into your décor. “The Scandinavian look really suits the sheepskins, but then on the other hand you could even go kind of Hollywood Regency and have a colored hide or sheepskin, something kind of wild. Color is back in a big way.”
As far as her own décor goes, Robertson says she plans on holding onto her sheepskin home accents for many years to come.
“I don’t think I’m going to be abandoning my sheepskin addiction anytime soon. A sheepskin rug’s always a classic.”