Animal Skin “Hide”-and-Seek

3 Dec

photoI have an affinity for animal skins.  Not only do I drive a car with leather car seats and carry an alligator pocketbook, I order Peking duck just for the skin.

But what I really love is animal skin rugs, particularly cowhides, which are a growing trend.  For years I’ve admired cowhide rugs displayed in various home décor magazines but have had no idea where to buy one.  Ethan Allen hasn’t strayed far from floral garland rugs and as far as I know Barth’s Meat Market doesn’t sell home accessories.

I searched online and found a lot of sites selling synthetic hides made to look authentic, but I wanted the real thing.  Other sites advertised genuine hides but looked sketchy, like the one that advertised, “We carry a huge array of cowhides,” which seemed promising until I read a customer complaint: “I want my money back.  What kind of cowhide is scarred with saddle marks, flecked with frosting and sheds like a pony?”

Another site offering deals for inexpensive authentic animal hides listed great prices.  I located a real cowhide, but discovered upon closer examination that it was blemished with writing.   I’m all in favor of the cowhide being the secondary purpose after meat, but I didn’t want a rug branded, “Angus Beef.”

I was ready to give up and go faux, when an auspicious ski trip brought me to a home design boutique in Manchester, Vermont that sells cowhide rugs.  I took one look at the beautiful soft and supple hides and knew a mock hide would never do.

I inquired about the nature of the hides and they told me they buy from a wholesaler that sells the highest quality stock from the most reputable tanneries in Brazil. They offered rugs in small, medium, and woolly mammoth.  I chose the medium in solid white and had it shipped home.

My new cowhide looked gorgeous in front of my living room fireplace.  Unfortunately, not everyone who entered my home shared that sentiment.

“What was that, a polar bear?” my friend Leslie asked when she popped over to pick up her daughter.

“No, it was a cow,” I said.

Did you get it off the set of Conan the Barbarian?” She quipped.

“No, I didn’t.  And it’s not barbaric, it’s exotic,” I said.

“Since when is a cow exotic?”

“I don’t know. . .since I grew up in the city?”

“Well, I’m just not into dead animals as decoration,” she said.  “The only dead animal parts I want in my house are the ones I’m going to eat.  How can you destroy a cow’s life for the sake of vanity?” she asked.  Then she shifted her Coach leather bag to her other arm.

“It’s not killed just for the hide,” I argued.  The hide is a byproduct of an animal that’s already being raised for beef.  And it’s durable.  It’ll last a lot longer than those burgers we ate for dinner last night.”

“I’ll give you that one,” she said, and jumped up suddenly.  “I almost forgot, I’ve got to get home, I’m expecting a delivery!”

“What are you having delivered?” I asked.

“A leather sofa.”

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52 Responses to “Animal Skin “Hide”-and-Seek”

  1. The Domestic Fringe December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    I like the cowhide. Truth be told, I want a faux black and white one for my bedroom.

  2. Shalagh Hogan December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    I dig your sense of humor and your design taste. Can you cook?

  3. G M Barlean December 3, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    I was glad to see you didn’t opt for Holstein on your floor.
    The Native Americans used the whole animal. It’s a waste not to. I am glad to see though, that you don’t have an affinity for leopard skin. ;-)

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 4, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Ha! No, but I do have a photo of me as a baby wearing a leopard print bikini. I guess I was in touch with my wild side even then.

      • G M Barlean December 4, 2012 at 11:11 am #

        Oh that sounds priceless! You should probably frame that!

  4. joehoover December 3, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    You’re covering up those beauitful floors! I would kill (a cow) for those floors

  5. prachi jain December 3, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Ha Ha!! You are too funny!!

  6. shelleyburbank December 3, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Yup, we can all be a little hypocritical at times, but we can still laugh about it cuz we all do it! The hide looks nice in the photo, and I think it is good to use as much of the animal we slaughter as possible, so kudos to you both for aesthetics and sustainability.

  7. nursemommylaughs December 3, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Are you wanting to be ensconced in cowhides? That might be a little much. Very weird, but I DO love that about you!

  8. I suck as a parent December 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    I love cow hide rugs – my dog? Not so much. I had to return the one that I bought because the dog wouldn’t go through the living room!

  9. downhousesoftware December 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    I used to be really conflicted about leather products. Especially when I was vegan and bought a car with nice, soft, heated leather seats. Eventually I realized that I am large. I contain multitudes. Then I was happy. And when I gave up being vegan, and then even being vegetarian, I was really happy.

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 4, 2012 at 9:03 am #

      We all have to make choices we can live with. Personally, I’d give up leather before I gave up meat, but that’s just me. :)

  10. winsomebella December 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    If you want another one, let me know. Plenty of cowhides here in Colorado :-) I really like yours!

  11. funnysister December 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Looks fab in your room. Farmhouse chic! I did notice the edge of it looks like the silhouette of a cat…

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 4, 2012 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks! I hadn’t noticed the cat silhouette, but I assure you no cat was harmed in the making of this rug . . . ;)

  12. Laura December 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Ha! This was great! :)

  13. Carrie Rubin December 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Aw yes, we tend to be a little hypocritical when we decry such things while toting leather bags and wearing snakeskin shoes (the latter of which I don’t do, because, well, eww).

  14. Debbie December 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    So funny! Sadly, a cowhide rug wouldn’t work around here — way too much shedded Sheltie hair! — but I can see the attraction. Odd that some people don’t understand the food chain. Or the clothing/accessories link to what was once in the food chain!

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 4, 2012 at 9:32 am #

      Ah, yes, it would be a sheltie hair magnet for sure. Ever considered recycling that excess dog hair? I’ve heard of some people knitting Rover’s hair into a beautiful cardigan! :)

  15. Paprika Furstenburg December 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    Thank God you didn’t try to make a DIY cowhide rug. I can only imagine how that would have turned out.

  16. Lou and Kitty December 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Sometimes when you’re looking for some skin, there is no place to hide.

  17. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer December 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Now that you have secured the cowhide rug you can concentrate on a new finish for the living room sofa. The bear hunting season just happened to begin in Morris County today: maybe you’ll get lucky!

  18. Perfecting Motherhood December 3, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    You know who sells cowhide rugs? IKEA! They also have cowhide furniture (foot rests and stools, I think). I don’t have anything animaley in my house. I don’t find leather seats and couches comfortable and I prefer cloth. I do have a couple pairs of leather shoes but I prefer sneakers and they don’t come in leather anymore (am I wrong?).

    I’ll admit though, your rug does look like a polar bear at first glance. Thanks for the laugh!

  19. artsifrtsy December 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    I want a cow hide rug – I have admired them for a while now too. I bought a cool bag in Costa RIca and I get similar comments on it – if the leather were reversed and the spots inside the bag it would be “rich corinthian leather” – Wonder how those rugs hold up to dogs?

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 4, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      Good point about reversing the leather! I was concerned that my dog might chew on the rug, but she sticks to her nylabone. She does like to lay on the hide. So do I. ;)

  20. cindyricksgers December 4, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    Your rug looks great! I had a woman complain to me when I worked at the hardware store that our pet supply area had Pig’s Ears. I was confused at first, but then realized she thought the pigs were being slaughtered for their ears alone!

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 4, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      It’s comments like that that make this all worthwhile. I will be cracking up at that all day!

  21. Dawn@LightenUp! December 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Ha! Touche to your friend, the Uninformed Coach Lady. ;)

  22. earthriderjudyberman December 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Ah! I love the irony. People who hate leather, but they don’t wear styrofoam shoes. Thanks for the chuckle, Lisa.

  23. gabrielablandy December 7, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Great rug and great post. Loved: And it’s not barbaric, it’s exotic. You’ve got a wonderfully deadpan way of delivering your humour, which just makes it all the more funny.

  24. The Laughing Mom December 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    “As far as I know Barth’s Meat Market doesn’t sell home accessories,” my favorite line! You need to live in the Midwest. Why am I picturing you in a Daniel Boone hat now?

  25. kriskkaria December 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    LOL, love the story. Can I narrate it for my podcast?

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 11, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks for your interest! Can you please email me so I can find out more about it? lisatognola@gmail.com

      • kriskkaria December 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

        I sent you an email with a link to my podcast. The current podcast is a blog on WordPress, The Happy Holly Project. Let me know what you think.

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