May 22, 2018
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Antlers bring home a bit of the great outdoors

By Maria Cote, McClatchy Newspapers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’re looking for clues about someone’s decorating style, Becky Berg suggests starting with a bookshelf.

Anthologies like “Cowboy Poetry” share shelf space with novels by Larry McMurtry and Louis L’Amour in one client’s cozy condo.

The condo, perched on a hill on the Country Club Plaza, offers a view to a metropolis. Inside, however, Berg has created a space anyone who loves the West would be proud to call home.

“For Western or mountain design, it starts with natural colors and textures,” says the owner of Becky Berg Design. “This client had a home in the mountains of Colorado, and he wanted that feeling here.”

Beyond the foyer, an antler chandelier that draws the eye to a dining area achieves that goal. Though the room is small, the sizable light fixture seems in balance with the room.

“One big piece like this really makes a statement in a small space,” says Berg, who has been a designer for more than 20 years. “The antler piece actually makes the space appear larger.”

Antlers have been a popular design feature for the past few years, design pros say.

“They add a warm touch to many types of decor,” says Gordon Andahl, public relations director of Z Gallerie.

Though they are traditionally used in Western decor, Andahl points to the white, pewter and chrome finishes on resin-based antler objects that fit right in with contemporary decor.

“They’re a chic, decorative way to convey a look,” he says. “Contrasting white and silver finishes work well with the warm neutral tones that are popular now.”

Study artwork or room decor that incorporates antlers and you may be seeing what was once the crowning glory of a deer, elk or moose; the animals shed those antlers annually, to the delight of collectors who use them in home decor. Most likely, however, when you spot antler light fixtures or other decor, you’re looking at carved wood or resin impressions.

“We use real antlers as molds for our replicas,” says Deb Severinson, an associate manager of home furnishings for Cabela’s, which has a location at Village West in Kansas City, Kan. “Faux antlers are much more cost effective.”

Chandeliers that can range from those with six to more than two dozen antlers have sold well for many years, Severinson says.

When you walk into Wilson Lighting in Overland Park, where Berg shopped, an antler chandelier is one of the first things you will see.

She also found two lamps with bases made of antlers.

While such shops might be a fine place to start your search for antler merchandise, don’t stop with lighting fixtures, says Jill Tran with Tran + Thomas Design Studio. Think tabletop stands, door pulls, coat racks and candle holders.

“Whatever they’re used for, what’s important is that they’re in good shape,” says Tran, who suggests also hunting down antler decor at antique shops and estate sales.

“As with any home decor, study it to be sure it’s in good shape. If it’s faux and painted, be sure it’s done well, as there are some really awful ones out there.”

It would be a shame, Tran says, not to acknowledge the season when using antlers.

“Decorate for the holidays with them,” Tran says. “Hang glass bulbs on them, or decorate them with pine cones. Incorporate them with real holly and candles, or use them as stocking holders.”

Whether designing the interior of a vacation home in the mountains or adding a bit of the Old West to your home in the city, Tran points out that antlers unquestionably serve one purpose in the home.

“They add an element of the great outdoors,” she says. “So many people love that touch of nature.”

Add a bit of the Old West

Designer Becky Berg offers these tips for decorating with antlers and other rustic or mountain decor:

Just a touch: It’s the little things, like suede lampshades and a few pieces of Western art, that create a warm, inviting space. Too many antlers or a whole lot of collectibles and your place will start to look more tacky than tasteful.

Nature calls: Consider fabrics with texture and heft. A leather chair or two, or a sofa with an Indian print or highly textured fabric, will bring a bit of nature inside.

Taste test: Create a room that suits your lifestyle. If you’re drawn toward all things contemporary, forget the log-cabin look. Painted antlers and other Western objects can add an artful touch to any decor.

Scale up or back: A high tray ceiling allowed Berg to make a bold statement with a large antler chandelier, even though the room was small. In a room with low ceilings, the same chandelier would have eclipsed the space.


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