Home Decor

All the Ways You're *Not* Using That Sheepskin Rug (But Should)

From the expected (accent rug) to the unusual (AC cover?).

December 15, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

If you’re considering a sheepskin rug purchase… just go for it. Animal furs (real and faux) have been used to cozy up homes for as long as humans have roamed the planet—and are great for providing extra warmth on a bed, act as seating, and instantly convey an intimate vibe. Especially now when the weather is quickly cooling down, and we’re likely going to be spending a lot more time inside (again), making your home as inviting as possible will help assuage the winter blues.

About a year ago, I ordered a faux sheepskin rug for my living room, and absolutely loved it. It added whimsy to a space that otherwise felt somewhat traditional, and perfectly sectioned off a reading nook within a larger room. Sadly, the faux fur isn’t really able to be cleaned, and I’m left wishing I just invested in the real deal, since there are so many places in my apartment that would benefit from a little hygge.

Below, we’ve rounded up all our favorite ways to use the ever-versatile sheepskin around the home. Trust us, they’re so much more than just an accent rug.

1. Layer it on a Larger Rug for Added Texture

Something that designers do constantly is layer smaller, more detailed rugs on top of larger, simpler ones. Not only does this allow you to change out the top rug with other rotating decor, it also means you can invest in a smaller statement rug and make it feel more substantial within a space.

2. Use it as a Pet Bed

Your pet is adorable, but their accessories aren’t always. If you find yourself uninspired by all the brown shades of microfiber at Petco, try laying a sheepskin out for them in their usual lounge spot. Alternatively, you can add a layer of protection between the harder-to-wash couch and your pet by fuffing it up for them.

3. Add Texture to a Dining Chair

I see this application everywhere, and I never tire of it. A casual pelt that just happens to be draped atop a dining chair or bench makes the whole room feel instantly warmer and Winterfell-like—in the best way.

4. Create Distinct Areas in a Larger Room

This is, of course, one of my favorite applications. Since I began working from home, my living room has become a variety of things, namely a home office and yoga studio. In order to retain a feeling of cozy, I positioned my rug under the loveseat and end table to clearly set apart a reading nook. Plus, it’s lovely to step bare feet right onto a fluffy rug.

5. Wrap it Around the Christmas Tree

Good tree skirts (as in, ones you’ll actually want to use year after year) are surprisingly hard to find, but the best one is sitting right in your living room already. Food52 Home Buyer, Aja Aktay, drapes her white sheepskin around the base of her tree in lieu of a tree skirt for the season, then repurposes it elsewhere post the holidays.

6. Hide the AC Unit Off-Season

Speaking of which, Aja also uses her sheepskin to cover her unsightly AC unit in the winter while it’s not in use. Not every renter has the ability to stow a unit away in a closet or remove it from their high rise window, but a little fur conceals even the most utilitarian of appliances. Not to mention, it protects you from the winter draft that seeps in.

7. Lay it Down as a Soft Nursery Landing

Okay, so maybe a sheepskin rug isn’t spit-up proof, but wouldn’t it make the cutest backdrop for a baby photo? I’ve seen sheepskins at the foot and on the sides of cribs in countless nursery reveals, and I’m not even close to tired of this trend.

8. Cover a Chair Cushion

You can go the extra mile and tack the sheepskin on with staples, but I just draped one over a chair cushion I didn’t like the color of, and it worked perfectly. I wasn’t ready to settle on a permanent reupholstery fabric, but ended up sticking with the sheepskin for far longer than I thought I would.

9. Drape it Over the Couch

Is there anything more effortlessly hygge than a sheepskin draped over a couch? No, there is not. Throw some logs in the fireplace, heat up some hot chocolate and I’m ready to snuggle right up.

Are there any ways to use a sheepskin that we missed? Let us know below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • /anne...
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    amanda
When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.

16 Comments

/anne... March 22, 2021
In Australia, it's common for small babies to sleep on a sheepskin, but they're clipped short not long and shaggy.
 
ncindc January 16, 2021
Can we get a link to the photo of the sheepskin covering the ac unit? I have three window units- very curious!
 
CJ January 16, 2021
I used to use my sheepskin in my car to cover the ice cold seat in the winter. You had to be careful it didn’t fall out into the slush when you got out of the car.
 
Juli December 21, 2020
About the yellowing, if it’s all over the wooly part, might be aging of the wool and the lanolin in it. The most noticeable yellowing in only spots on a sheepskin I ever saw had to do with unfortunate choice of the sheepskin rug as a potty spot by a pet. You could try a spot treatment using a gentle wool/cashmere appropriate stain remover (I have a bottle from The Laundress but there may be others available). Use cool water to rinse to avoid felting of the wool?
Good luck!
 
amanda December 19, 2020
Just wanted to give a shout out for felted fleece rugs for anyone not keen on the real sheepskins! I LOVE the look of photos like in this article needed to avoid faux fleece or leather thanks to my cats’ chewing habits (RIP leather boots...). Instead, I found some gorgeous pet beds on Etsy made by taking the ends of sheared wool and felting into a pad. So cool!

Google “felted fleece”, “ethical”, “cruelty-free”, or “no kill” sheep rug to find.
 
McKenzieMRoss December 19, 2020
Can you offer some guidance on how to instruct dry cleaners to treat these sheepskin rugs? I took in a lovely one and it came back with the leather all wrinkly and the wool curled and clumped, instead of brushed out an luxurious. I’m really hesitant to take in any others!
 
Juli December 19, 2020
You can take a small brush to the wool and brush it out to make it fluffy and soft again. I have used sheepskins for many years and used to brush them after washing. A bit of lanolin on the skins after washing on delicate for a short time and then putting in a low-temp dryer - take out while still damp and hang over a railing or the shower rod to finish drying would keep the leather back from curling and drying out. Just consider the brushing to be meditative...;)
 
McKenzieMRoss December 19, 2020
I’ll give that a go! Do you think the lanolin would still work if the rug has been dry cleaned instead of washed? I hadn’t thought of washing them myself. Might experiment with this one since it’s already looking scruffy—no harm there!
 
Juli December 19, 2020
It would be worth a try!!
Let us know how it works??
 
JoAnn December 20, 2020
I also had a hard time with how to get my sheepskins cleaned. I finally opted for a dry cleaner ($$$). But will try doing it myself next time. However, one of my rugs had yellowed and the cleaners' was not able to whiten it. Any ideas on that? (We are non-smokers so I've no idea just why it yellowed.)
 
Author Comment
Caroline M. December 21, 2020
I'm sensing a sheepskin cleaning story in the making...
 
[email protected] December 21, 2020
Every 4-6 months when they’re all matted I wash them on delicate cycle and dry on low/delicate. They come out beautiful. These are IKEA sheepskins which are a great bargain.
 
JoAnn December 21, 2020
I'll be looking forward to it!
 
JoAnn December 21, 2020
Thanks for the suggestion~ !
 
Aja A. January 10, 2021
Into that Caroline!!
 
/anne... March 22, 2021
Undyed wool often yellows if it's exposed to sunlight over a long period.