When I was still in college, a friend’s mom bought one of the new cowhide rugs from IKEA, triggering a mini-obsession for me. It was an impulse buy for her and I think she never found anywhere to put it, but for the brief time it lay out in her living room I couldn’t keep my hands off the thing.

For some people I suppose that seems strange — a hide is evidence of the death of an animal, after all — but I’ve always been strange. I like cowhides for the same reason I like peacock feathers and funky plants and skulls and driftwood and praying mantids, and probably for the same reason I studied sculpture in college. The structures and complexities of natural objects are just fascinating to me.

Nature is the best artist of all, so they say.

Anyway, I put off owning a cowhide myself because a) they’re expensive and b) I wasn’t really sure of how to incorporate one into my home without the pattern becoming too dominant. But I’ve been seeing some great examples on design blogs:

Lots of hides, here!

Love the brindle pattern and the angle of the placement. Via The Brick House.

Via Apartment Therapy.

Blog posts mentioning cowhides always seem to attract controversy, with the con people arguing that they just aren’t classy and the pro people arguing that they bring a nice sense of organic irregularity to balance all the right angles of modern furniture.

And although I’m aware that I may someday have house guests who are skeeved out by my choice of floor coverings, in the end the cowhide was also a practical option; hides are easily cleaned with soap and water, and, unlike square rugs, you have more freedom in arranging their placement to suit your space. So I picked one up second-hand on eBay. And for just $80!

The hide is super soft, with really nice patterning. I’m tickled pink.