The beautiful & controversial cowhide

Cowhides…they’re everywhere in every color in the modern interior. I was a vegetarian for 10 years and I’m a huge animal supporter so this has been a controversial subject for me. I’ve gone through an internal battle about using them…we wear leather shoes, boots and purses, and I can’t stop the human race from being carnivorous.  They are killed for their meat, not fur…  So shouldn’t we instead cherish the beauty of the animal, instead of throwing their skin away?  How do you feel about this?  It was with much reluctance that I added them to my own home… for now I’ve allowed myself to enjoy their incredible beauty in the home.

Image Lonny magazine.

There are several of them in every issue of Lonny magazine. There’s no arguing that they look amazing!


Lauren Liess interiors

Looks fantastic layered in top of a natural rug. Love it in Lauren’s bedroom!


We have this natural brindle in our EARTHY MODERN BEDROOM on LiveLikeYou!

Now they also come in all kinds of cool specialized finishes…

SPECIALTY COWHIDE – brown and white with gold splattered paint.

Image via Made By Girl

The black and white used to only go in western interiors only. Now it’s often used with great success in a modern interior.


I have a white cowhide in my living room. The white one is widely popular of late...

Image Lonny magazine.

Image Lonny magazine.


There’s of course the regular zebra printed cowhide that we’ve seen everywhere the last few years. I personally will never get tired of it.


A felt backing takes it up a notch.

The zebra stripes come in a ton of colors now.  Pink, red, silver, gold…you name it.


And now we’re also seeing cut together cowhides in amazingly beautiful rugs…

Image Lonny magazine

So basically…they’re everywhere,  they’re beautiful and add a warm natural layer to any interior.

How do you feel about them? Would you use them in your home?

Share This:

30 thoughts on “The beautiful & controversial cowhide

  1. Good Morning,
    We just had hardwood floors installed in our main living area. My plan was to get a seagrass rug and layer it with a cowhide.
    We just came from a vacation and went through a small town in South Dakota. We stopped in a little rinky-dink store that sold hides & antlers. I can't tell you how excited I was when I saw they sold cowhide rugs for an unbelievable low price. I snatched one up so fast!
    But is there a way to get the fold crease out of the center of it?

  2. Love the look. I have 2 of them. One in my living room that is a pretty off white and one on Craig s list that I can not sell. It is a dark brown. Its half the price of a new one. It is brand new! I think you either love them or hate them.

  3. I love them but I wonder how difficult it would be to keep them clean? I have a dog that sheds alot and I'm affraid that a traditional vaccum would damage the hide.

    1. Hi Kelly, they're actually surprisingly easy to vaccum and keep clean. Even the white hides AND in high traffic areas.

  4. I'm with you! They look great, but is it strange? Historically it would be considered a good – conservationist – thing to use all parts of the animal. I acquired a real one for free a couple of years ago. Thanks to the previous home owners love of shag carpet (at least it's not pea green) I haven't found a place for it yet. But when I rolled it out to look at it I have to admit it kind of creeped me out to walk on it!

  5. It is simply not true that using animal skins doesn't lead to more suffering for animals. With all the beautiful synthetic skins now that are cheaper, more durable and frequently more attractive, there is no excuse for contributing to such profound misery. From the PETA site:

    "In the U.S., many of the millions of cows and other animals who are killed for their skin endure the horrors of factory farming—extreme crowding and deprivation as well as castration, branding, tail-docking, and dehorning—all without any painkillers. At slaughterhouses, animals routinely have their throats cut and are skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious.

    Buying leather directly contributes to factory farms and slaughterhouses because skin is the most economically important byproduct of the meat industry. Leather is also no friend of the environment, as it shares responsibility for all the environmental destruction caused by the meat industry as well as the pollution caused by the toxins used in tanning."

  6. Dear Pro Kindness, I'm more than familiar with this argument serving on the board of the Humane Society for over 10 years. One of my personal commitments have been to only offer hides on LiveLikeYou from companies that support and practice humane treatment of animals. But again I know this is a controversial subject.

  7. Hello! Yes I know what you mean re the controversy of actually using the skin of a dead animal as decor.. It is a tad morbid but I must admit that when I was younger I used to wear my mothers fantastic cow skin coat from the 60s.. It was cut in Jackie O style and was simply divine..
    I also went through a huge face of 'cow loving' – I even collected cows for a few years (not real ones.. though that would be wonderful too right.. !?) and dreamed of a house that could host a room that I'd refer to as the barn.. 🙂
    The collection slowly faded over the years of moving but I do have a cow skin on my living room floor. It's dark brown and now I wish I had chosen one in line with you first two or three pictures. I simply adore the grey'ish ones!

    Talking of skins.. don't get me started on Gotland sheep skins.. I am off to shop some of them from a local farm yard in the next few weeks..!

    Lots of love from one former vegetarian to another.

    xx Charlotta

  8. Jill, there is NOTHING humane about slaughter (of ANY kind). So-called free range operations are a farce. They generally only give the animals a little extra space. And, of course, the animals are still brutally and painfully killed. It is blatantly untrue that leather is always a by-product of the slaughter industry. It is an abomination all to itself. Often animals killed specifically for their hides are SKINNED and DISMEMBERED ALIVE.
    Animals in other countries also suffer for leather sold in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe. India is a major leather supplier to the world market. Because cow slaughter is only legal in certain parts of India, the animals must be marched to those areas for slaughter, often a journey of hundreds of miles. Hot chili peppers and tobacco are often rubbed into their eyes, and their tail bones are painfully twisted and broken in order to make these exhausted animals stand up and keep moving. Many of the Indian cows used for leather are so sick and injured by the time they arrive at the slaughterhouse that they must be dragged inside. This is a heinously cruel industry. So, please don't give me in any of that Humane Society nonsense.

  9. Call me naive, but being a daughter of a cow farmer in Virginia where there are about 100 cows per 350 acres (neighboring farms about the same), in my eyes, that is considered free roaming with plenty of room, and the slaughter houses are family owned and operated. I don't believe ALL animals are treated as cruel. Not disagreeing that many are, but will disagree that ALL are and aren't given any space.
    There will always be those that eat meat (nothing against vegetarians, but cave men were onto something), all that wear leather shoes and belts, the list goes on and on…..the hide, has been and will continue to be seen in interiors. There is definitely many jumping on the faux band wagon…..but this gal, (again throw in the naive part) knows that animals that are raised for consumption should not let all other body parts go to waste. Sort of like when we leave our bodies, being an organ donor, recycling our body parts, makes sense no?

  10. Love them. We live in Texas so of course western decor is all around but my style is more Bohemian. My husband and I have a longhorn rug and I love it. Its beautiful and one of a kind no animal is the same so it has Its own unique print and it has a branding. I'm an animal lover and have actually enjoyed photographing these gorgeous curious animals.

  11. I LOVE using them in interiors either as a rug or covered on something. What I don't love is when a room has one on the floor and covering an ottoman! Sometimes less is better and let it be the focal point. Good post!

  12. Someone always trips over mine. How do you keep them flat and not bunched up? For me it's a continual effort and I'm not sure it's worth it.

  13. I eat meat, wear leather, and take medication that more than likely was tested on animals. Hides in today's industry are bi-products. Ranchers do not raise and feed cows merely for the hides. I'm sorry, but they don't. I think it's our responsibility to encourage using the entire animal while discouraging greedy, conspicuous consumption of meat. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
    Years ago I bought a zebra striped cow hide. At the time it seemed so decadent and unique. Today, not so much but I still love it and intend to use it forever or pass it down to my children. I do NOT like plastic. Animal suffering aside (how could I?), using wool and hides is more Eco-friendly in the long run and infinitely more attractive than a giant acrylic/polyester rug that will take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

  14. I too struggled with wanting a cowhide rug. I love how they look, but I am a huge animal lover and didn't want to contribute to anything that might be inhumane. I found one at Goodwill in perfect condition. I justify my purchase because I am recycling instead of buying new. Maybe I saved a cow? 🙂

  15. Hello, Neat post. There is an issue together with your website in internet explorer, may check this? IE nonetheless is the market leader and a large component of other folks will miss your great writing due to this problem.

  16. for decoration= animal skin
    for fashion = fur coats, leather boots, etc
    for entertainment= animals in circuses, trapped and abused, animal fighting, horse carriage, bear baiting, puppy mill farms, you name it.

    think these are all just same inhumane cruelty for human's greed/selfishness/wants/vanity.

  17. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or
    did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I'm looking to create my
    own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.
    appreciate it

  18. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or
    did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to create my
    own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.
    appreciate it

  19. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or
    did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to create my
    own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.
    appreciate it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *