When it comes to animals many of us become softies.
But recently we've gone one step further with our furry friends, by allowing them to romp through our rooms.
You can now choose from a veritable zoo full of critters who feature in shape or image in every type of homeware.
Give house to a handsome full-size horse that doubles as a lamp, wallpaper decorated with canine silhouettes of every breed of man's best friend, or even something wilder like an ostrich table or a hippo doormat.
Welcome, in fact, to the wacky world of design pets. They're not just fashionable, but add a little dash of wit to rooms, and even though some don't come cheap they're probably less trouble than the real thing (although not as affectionate).
Online homeware company Design My World is a good source for contemporary "creature comforts". The company's co-founder, Dean Hart, says there has been a surge in demand for products in animal and pet shapes or images of late.
"Perhaps their current popularity is also because when times are hard we yearn for things that we associate with love and affection," he says.
"So there's something reassuring about pets and animals taking up residence."
Hart points out that for many people, a modern piece with design inspired by a familiar animal, can appeal to those who are not confident about venturing into contemporary style.
"People can be nervous about buying something different, edgy or contemporary but feel more confident if it's an animal shape or design. It also helps that this trend is timeless – period homes have always featured animals and nature in decoration – so pieces rarely become dated."
Just to add to the style's street-cred, a walk on the wild side is echoed in clothes.
Model Kate Moss has an image of a panther adorning her favourite dress from her latest collection for Topshop.
Luckily, capturing this style is without risk. We've sourced a menagerie of products that are guaranteed not to trigger allergies, won't bite, and don't even need feeding.
Serious animal addicts could gallop into this style by investing in a life-size black plastic horse/lamp. It costs Dh16,000 from Moooi and would be an instant talking point.
Alternatively, set the scene with Hunting Scenes wallpaper, showing redcoated riders enjoying the thrill of the chase, from Lewis and Wood.
And bag some hunting trophies from Graham and Green, an interiors specialist that always has its finger on the style pulse.
Choose between an aluminium stag head, £89 (Dh480) or hand-carved wooden deer head, £96. Its best selling Rack-oh-Deer coat hooks cost £21 for a pair and £44 for six.
For hunting of a different nature, The One has fish-shaped wooden napkin rings for Dh25 as well as a Gembok skull and stand for Dh399.
FLIGHTS OF FANCY
Creatures are small as well as great – so get a flutter with butterflies and birds.
One wallpaper, Fly Away, is truly a work of art by designer Catherine Hammerton. She uses hand-cut and coloured vintage paper, and it comes in three-metre panels priced at £195 per panel.
Let butterflies fly as well as time, with a Butterfly clock, which comes with three butterflies in different sizes, which can be positioned to choice on the wall. The clock comes in a choice of colours – pink, blue, black or white – and costs £109.99 from new company Amode.
An ornate gilded Concubine wardrobe, £788 (Dh4,278) from Zenzu, could be the perfect way to create the look for a bedroom. It is soft aqua green and handpainted with delicate gold butterflies.
WILD AND WACKY
Be inspired by the African plains and bag an elephant or two, as well as an ostrich and hippo.
Andrew Martin features an elephant emblem on his homeware. It now includes cushions, which start from £35, and china, which starts from £6.50 for a mug up to £35 for a set of four plates. The latter are in green, pink, red, or purple and are all available from John Lewis.
Throw a jungle silhouette of two elephants feeding from a tree by using an elegant black or gold candle holder, £14.95 from Design My World, or make an entrance with a Hippo doormat, £49.95, by Droog from Dutch By Design.
You could get a roar of approval from design-savvy mates – but at a price – with an ostrich table or a polar bear bookcase. The side table has an ostrich body with legs, in black resin, and is £269 from Graham and Green, while Joe the Polar Bear, is a double-sided white book case by iBride, priced £1,995, from Design My World.
Alternatively, for animals of Middle Eastern origin, pick up a camel sculpture at The One for Dh399.
Bunnies, with all the charm and none of the breeding habits, star in wire creations like a Dish Bunny plate draining rack, £14.50 from Dutch By Design or sit on a wire stool featuring a bunny silhouette by designer Wai-Lin Scannell, for Soop.
But if you really want to add style to your hutch and create a talking point, splash out on a life-size Rabbit light, £264.
-Bodie & Fou: www.bodieandfou.com
-Design My World: www.designmyworld.net
-Dutch By Design: www.dutchbydesign.com
-Graham and Green: www.grahamandgreen.co.uk
-Catherine Hammerton: www.catherinehammerton.com
-John Lewis: www.johnlewis.com
-Lewis and Wood: www.lewisandwood.co.uk
-Osborne & Little: www.osborneandlittle.com
-SKK Lighting: www.skk.net
-The One: www.theoneplanet.com
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