Home & Garden

Antler decor brings the great outdoors inside

This large, chic antlered light fixture helps to make the small room feel bigger and balanced.
This large, chic antlered light fixture helps to make the small room feel bigger and balanced. MCT

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 somehow balances it.

"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."

The antlers used may have once been 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 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'll see.

But 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 pinecones. 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."