Layered Cowhides & Also Oysters

layering rugs

Most things I do in my house aren’t a result of a carefully thought through plan where I get to make decisions based on the perfect scenarios.

You know that right?

Most design decisions are a result of using what I have when I have it and making the most out of that. Isn’t that pretty much how life works?

I didn’t layer my rugs because that was my master plan. I layered them because I already own rugs I love and I don’t want to buy new ones and three months ago we moved to a new house with a different shaped family room and my rug didn’t cover the same amount of floor space.

doing things

It’s the same with my kitchen. I didn’t put Ikea cabinets next to a Viking Range because I think that’s the ‘perfect’ design choice. I put Ikea cabinets next to a Viking range because that’s the best choice for me right now, a girl paying cash for a kitchen who happened to find a Viking for a steal. A girl who’s out of debt thank-you-very-much. A girl who’s lived in rentals with dark kitchens and who more than anything else needs LIGHT while she cooks. I guess I could have not purchased the high end range so that my cabinets would be more in the same league as my stove, but living by that kind of self-imposed rule just seems sad. </end rant>

So now I have a lovely limitation–lots of rugs and none of them big enough alone to cover my room and no rug budget to buy a new super big rug.

The world is not our oyster. Thankfully.

I don’t ever get to start with a truly blank slate from which to do anything. And neither do you. Instead of cursing the limitations, I’ll embrace them, cling to them even because there are so many beautiful ideas in the world, I NEED a limitation just to get me out of my indecision rut!

Instead of thinking it’s wrong or bad to put way too many cowhides in my undone family room, I decided to see if I can take the challenge to make them work. Why? Because it’s what I have.

layering rugs

I like my sofa to be grounded by sitting at least a few inches on the main area rug. When the sofa (opposite the fireplace wall) is sitting on the herringbone cowhide I get a big gap in front of the fireplace. It’s too much room left unrugged to ignore but I also don’t want to have a floating rug and I want to avoid buying a new rug. Rugs are one of the purchases I don’t mind spending money on, but if I can reuse a good rug then I’ll do my best to do that.


So just like in our old house I paired my big cowhide with the herringbone…

layered rugs

In the old house, see how massive the big cowhide is? It fit nicely there because we had an angled fireplace to the left. and that unrugged space on the right of the photo actually worked for us in the room because it was a walkway.


These rugs work great simply layered right on top of each other because they are thin rugs, if this rug was a deep pile it could look weird or trip someone.


Our new family room is much smaller but it lets me use the cowhide to lead into the next part of the space, the dining area.


But them I’m still left with a pretty big, empty, unrugged space on the left. That corner piece of the herringbone rug happened to be situated right where your feet land if you are sitting in the chair that goes in that space. It was awkward. And even though I have plans for a shelf back in that corner and I promise my two identical lamps won’t be uneven like that, it won’t change my rug woes.


Meanwhile, I ordered a black and white cowhide from Joss & Main to go downstairs in the basement. I’ve always had really good experiences shopping online–I now buy almost ALL of my rugs online, but this time, when the rug was delivered it was very brown. And even though the disclaimer in the description said the coloring could be different, I figured since there were other rugs for sale with different colorings that they’d be organized to have black and white and brown once ship to the people who clicked on that photo to purchase.

ANYhow, my black and brown and white rug came and it was very, very brown. But it had one redeeming quality, a brand! I’m a sucker for an imperfection like that so suddenly, I knew I didn’t want to try to send it back because how lucky was I to get a rug with a brand!?! Score!

And then I remembered that cold, empty space in the family room.


So he got layered onto the family room floor. And I admit, at this point it looks a little wonky. It’s too much. Too many outlines and fifty shades of brown, too Pangaea-ish. But we can’t let ourselves stop when a room is 30% finished and decide something isn’t right. Especially when that something is paid for and already in the house.

Can I get an amen?

It’s better just to go ahead and see how it will all look if it were finished out.






With our chairs, better…


…and with our stuff, suddenly my eyes no longer focus on the exact lines of all the layered cowhides but instead I see the space as a whole. It’s cozy, it’s layered, my floors have a pleasing amount of rug coverage. Win!


As far as resources go…

The dark cowhide on the left is from Joss & Main it was $180 which is a great price for a cowhide, but it’s also a smaller hide and of course, I got lucky and was able to use a rug that didn’t look much like what I thought I had ordered.

The light colored hide on the right is almost twice as large. I bought it online last year during Rugs USA black friday sale, It was $185, last year they had 75% off lots of rugs with FREE shipping!! A really, really great deal! If you want a cowhide, this is the best deal I’ve found, besides my three legged cowhide I got at Metrolina for $60–but I just got lucky with finding a three legged rug at a deep discount (said no one ever in the world but me). My house is such the island for misfit decor.


The rectangular herringbone rug is made of sewn together scraps of cowhide. It’s my favorite rug ever. I bought mine at Joss & Main (they have some other versions on sale through the 21st at their Modern Lodge sale). One thing about shopping at Joss & Main and some other online retailers, double check on their return policy, most rugs I purchase are non-refundable (and who wants to try to mail back a rug anyway?). I tell myself if I can’t use it, I’ll be sure I’m buying it at a good enough price that I can sell it on Craigslist.

cowhide rugsJoss & Main                                                Wildlife Wonders

I just spent a few minutes on google looking for some other sources for patchwork cowhides:

Sunland Home Decor (you can pick just about any size and they’ll make it for you!) their rugs are priced by the square foot and you have lots of design options


Etsy has a ton of patchwork cowhides

I ADORE cowhide rugs, with three boys and a dog they’ve really held up well. They’ve been barfed on, spilled on and treated badly. And if you move and don’t want to throw away everything you own and start fresh, they can work in any room and be layered

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  1. I have the same patchwork cowhide rug, but CANNOT get the edges to lie down for the life of me! Did you have that problem?

  2. That herringbone rug?! Perhaps the most beautiful rug I’ve seen. I’ll have to keep this design and the layers in mind. I’m loving watching you make your new house a home!

  3. Yep, we rolled it under & set books on it overnight! There’s also special carpet tape you can used but the books worked for us.

  4. Your herringbone rug is the most beautful, most awesome freaking rug EVER. I am so picky and that rug is just fabulous. Your home is looking lovely, too!! You always exude such reassurance in your posts- that it’s OK not to have the “perfectly” decorated home. It takes time :) Thanks for being you!

    • that confidence comes from learning the hard way Leslie, 20 years ago I wasted money and time worrying way too much over stuff like this. I’m so happy to not have to worry about a bunch of rules or decor police and create a home I think is pretty that works for our family! What a load off!! xoxo

  5. I love your set up and I love how you showed us the process. I have taken so many of your cues in my own decorating and now it’s awesome to see you start from scratch in a new home! I too have purchased rugs from Rugs USA when they were having a sale. Unfortunately, one didn’t work and was almost impossible to walk on because it was so “nubby” and I had to send it back. Not fun. I never, ever want to send back another rug! I keep wanting to try a cowhide…have to go look on Rugs USA now! Thanks!

  6. Never in a kazzilion years would I think I’d lust after a herringbone rug! I’m LUSTING!

    Your mishaps look so planned and perfect! Can’t wait to see each and every adventure!

  7. I love love love cowhide. I have 1 in my dining room under the table and I just wrote a post over the weekend about my 2nd cowhide purchase. Sam’s Club has them for $99.

  8. Awesome room. I love the cowhides. Thanks for sharing. If one had a branding iron you could probably put your own brand on the cowhide.

  9. Stephanie B says

    I have been ogling hide rugs for sometime now (thanks mostly to your blog) but I’m worried about how they stand up to dogs. Does anyone have any experience with this? My dogs are generally well behaved, but every once in a while the bulldog gets his knickers in a twist and will pee in some super obvious location. Are they easy/hard to clean? What about odors?

    • our dog threw up on the light colored hide a few weeks ago! it cleaned up great, remember it was on the back of a cow, in the elements for years! I did wonder if the dog would want to chew it but he’s never been the chewing type anyway so I can’t speak to that . I did notice him giving the hide weird looks and sniffs when we first brought it in!

  10. I love everything about this post. So real life and so true for 99.9% of us. And, I just get such a thrill out of making what I have work.

  11. Tracy Walpole says

    I’m sure you probably hear this all the time, but you have the best style. Thanks for always keeping your blog so real life. <3

  12. Beautiful results, wonderful reassuring post! You have a gift and thanks for sharing it.

  13. Thanks to this post, I now have “Why am I such a misfit? Why am I such a nitwit?” playing in my head! Maybe I’ll sing it whilst making dinner and drive everyone nuts. You’ve got me in the holiday spirit now!

  14. I am just loving your new house.

  15. It looks awesome, as usual. And here is why I read your blog Because you USE WHAT you have and make the most of it and YOU are TRULY an artist. I admire you! You’ve challenged me to live on cash and get us out of debt. You’ve touched my life and my home in ways you’ll never know because we will never meet. But keep living as you do and WRITING about it so I can learn. Thank you, Nester!!

  16. And congratulations on this wonderful property and home! I remember when I read the first post when you shared about it and I was so excited I squealed like a little girl! As if it were happening to me!!!! You deserve every bit of this! And God has been so good to reward you for your obedience. So Glory to HIM!!

  17. I noticed your layered rugs a few posts ago and thought how cool they looked. Now that I know the whole process that got you to this point I think they look even cooler!

  18. I like it!

  19. I haven’t commented on here in a while, but I have been following along with your moving process and new home. I am loving the way you have transformed your house into a lovely space. You do have such a great eye for decorating. It is a beautiful piece of property and I wish you all the best.

  20. Amen! :-)


  21. I love what your doing in here. Hey, what’s up with your poor fiddle leaf? He looks a bit under the weather…”:)

  22. What a great post :) I absolutely love the layered look of those rugs! I’ve loved your herringbone cowhide since I first saw it on your sight. Someday I’ll have one too!

  23. I love the layered look! I want a cowhide so bad for my husband’s office but I just get so nervous with 3 cats and a dog (I have a lab as well)… glad to hear they’ve held up well with your dog and kiddos. I think I’ll snoop around for a deal this black Friday :)

  24. I love the colors – everything. You have such a good idea. I’m always stuck in indecision so I do nothing! Thanks for the Joss and Rugs, USA plug. We need a new rug desperately.

  25. M – You have an uncanny way of mixing textures and objects and it works perfectly. Your misfit rug creates drama by the fireplace with the white pouf. But…more than anything it’s your attitude and the inspiration you bring to the world….to fly when everyone else would hunker down and tuck their heads under their wings. Your Lovely Limitations series was life-changing for me. I only exaggerate a little. [wink] I had moved into a house that was in a great location, but I was not excited about the house itself, and we were renting. That series was like wind beneath my wings. I have no doubt that it made every decorating impossibility before me a possibility. And has stuck with me even through this “in between” season.

    Great post today. Thanks for being real and inspiring and YOU!
    [hugs] Diane

  26. The two leather chairs absolutely make your cowhide rugs look like they were intentionally bought just for that spot. Love it! And for your readers who are looking for a rug, today’s email from Copy Cat Chic showed a Pottery Barn cowhide rug for $549 and an Ikea one for $199. I’m getting ready to write an article for my newsletter on using cowhide in non-rustic settings and would love to show your living room if I may.

  27. I love the idea of “rug budget” (or budget for any other home improvement item).

  28. I love it! Your house is looking so cozy and welcoming.

  29. GORGEOUS!!!!!!! I love the layering!!

  30. Michelle Holland says

    It is refreshing to see decorating in “real life”. Look forward to your posts! Blessings!

  31. I’m so inspired! I am so not the decorator, but watching you mix and match and put things together makes me feel like I can do it. I loved this post because you showed how to not give up when it doesn’t look quite right. Keep adding, keep exploring and eventually it will all come together. Your rug combination, furniture, and placement is just lovely.

    • thanks Pam! Yes, I’ve made the mistake of making a decision too early in the process, sometimes if there’s not risk, you just need to go with it anyway and see!

  32. I love not only your rugs but your philosophy here: our limitations don’t stop us they make us more creative! Amen. I often feel that way in my life, like with the grocery budget!

    And the layering of the rugs? Perfect. I adore your new family room.

  33. I want your new branded rug simply because my last name starts with A!

  34. Posts like these that show your thought process are a big part of why I always come back to Nesting Place! Awesome. Thanks!

  35. I was taking a walk with my 5 year old little girl the other day and we were talking about where we would be living in the next few years and I said “I don’t know. The world is our oyster!”

    And she said, “No Mom, I think we are the oysters.”

    Just food for thought. :)

  36. I’m wondering why you don’t just stack some books under the too low lamp in your beautiful den?

  37. I’ll admit I’m obsessed with this look and would duplicate it in a minute if possible. But, my rug funds are nonexistant. I loved layered rugs. I’ve been looking at all types of rugs for my bare living room. I love how you use what you have and make it looked perfect!

  38. Oh my gosh, … once you added the furniture and the little ottoman, i don’t even ‘see’ that there are 3 rugs…. and all the tones in the room look just beautiful!


  39. We bought a 1986 manufactured home earlier this year and are completely remodeling it (sheetrock, hardwood flooring, appliances, plumbing, lighting fixtures, you know the drill).

    The master bedroom and bathroom will have an Old West theme. We’re not quite ready to move into the bedroom (we’re camping in what will be my office) but I want a cowhide for my side of the bed (we already have a three-legged buffalo hide — $60 at auction — for Dave’s side).

    I was at Victorian Country Christmas in Puyallup last week and one of the vendors had a beautiful cowhide on the floor of her booth. I asked about cleaning. She said she sweeps it with a broom and, if it really needs to be cleaned, she throws it over the fence in her back yard, scrubs it, and lets it air-dry.

    The one thing she cautioned about was the color on the backside. She said to make sure it’s grey, not yellow, as that’s the mark of a good hide.

    Love your stories…like Dave says, “I’m not tight, but I AM cheap!”

  40. I know I’m late to the cowhide party but I love the layered look of them! I also LOVE your leather chairs! Do you have a source you’d be willing to share? They’d be perfect for our living room! :)

  41. I am loving the herringbone hide rug, too. But, my house isn’t cool like yours with all white furniture and brown leather accents…do you think the herringbone cow hide could work with a white wall woomera and colorful fabric upholstery??? Thanks!

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