The hot home decor trend you didn’t see coming: skulls

Currey & Company shows French-inspired gold antiqued chairs with skull upholstery.
Currey & Company shows French-inspired gold antiqued chairs with skull upholstery.

The Charlotte Observer

Everything in our homes comes from either fashion or history. One hot — and surprising — decor trend pulled its life directly from the runways: skulls.

They have been showing up big time in fashion for the past couple of years. Alexander McQueen, the late British fashion and luxury clothing designer, rocked the style with his show at the Met Museum in 2011. It sent the look into orbit.

Two years later, the skull motif began showing up on home accessories. Two’s Company introduced jugs and plates with skull images. And we’re not talking about Halloween.

Now, in 2014, skinless heads have gone mainstream into home furnishings.

I find skulls fun and creepy at the same time. Maybe that’s what they bring to home decor, an opportunity for us not to take ourselves so seriously. Great decor needs a little whimsy to be interesting. When I started noticing skulls, I took notice. It’s hard not to.

Noir rocked its showroom this season at High Point. Founded in 2004 by Georg Baehler and Stephanie Lu, the company has become a leader in cutting-edge style that pushes the envelope. The idea of using skulls fits with Baehler’s quirky personality. It’s that L.A. vibe that gives designer decor just the right punch and makes people think. Noir’s showroom was filled with pillows adorned with skull images and hand guns, bowls of metal skulls were placed on coffee tables and throughout the showroom.

Currey & Company, long known for its unique lighting under the direction of the very talented Cecil Adams, started expanding its offerings with furniture and rugs just a couple of seasons ago. Now buyers flock to their showrooms to see all three categories.

“Some people want to put this look into Goth,” Adams said. “But I say it’s much bigger than that. It’s rock, chic and very sophisticated. It doesn’t just include skull images but also incorporates black metal, thorns and metal beads.”

The Currey collection included a lamp with a silver skull and black silk shade, French-inspired gold antiqued chairs with skull upholstery, as well as other interesting pieces.

OK, by now you must be wondering, “Who buys this stuff?” I had the same question. So here’s the profile of the consumers who are snatching these items off the shelves as quickly as they become available. The buyer is hip, nontraditional and affluent, and likes to wear dark, well-tailored designer clothing. These buyers tend to be in their early 30s to mid-50s. They’re also style watchers and trendsetters.

What type of houses do these consumers have and where do they use the items? You'll often find them in homes that are fashion-driven, maybe penthouse apartments and chic little townhouses. They might also show up in houses decorated in stone and wood, but the owner doesn’t want it to look like a mountain cabin so this is a better alternative. Buyers love decorating wine cellars, media rooms and cigar/man caves with skulls.

Our homes reflect our lives and the world around us. Designers are only responding to the trends around them. So it’s no surprise that skulls would be hot when the top-selling kid/tween dolls are a line called “Monster High.” Favorite TV show themes include vampires, zombies and other macabre topics. It’s just a natural to buy a chic, velvet, skull-inspired upholstered chair to watch those favorites.

You either get the look or you don’t. I fell in love with a chandelier at Currey & Company. Black heavy metal is adorned with thorns and an inscription: “Fortune Favors the Bold.” What a great conversation piece. It could just be the end to boring dinner chatter. That’s what good design is all about: It’s interesting, unique and thought-provoking.

Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at

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