Cold-Blooded Roommate


How do you feel about a terrarium with a frog in it that my daughter has? How can I make it a cool decoration piece and part of the house as opposed to making the room look like an aquarium?

  • S., from San Diego, CA


Being an avid animal advocate, before the word “decorating” is uttered, my strongest concern is that you that you know everything about this amphibian’s needs.

When you say “terrarium,” I feel claustrophobic, and a slight sense of panic. If I slip into his little frog-shoes for a moment, trade places with the bitty moist-skinned jumper, who finds himself stuck in a glass box, the following questions come to mind about my living situation:

Why am I feeling so dry and crackly? 

Is my water source fresh and abundant?

Are these real plants, with the smell and feel I love so much?

Where are the bugs I crave to eat and hunt?

Where did the sun go? 

Where is my safe place, my refuge for quiet time?

Where are my friends?

What is that strange smell? (Smells tiny frog armpit) Oh, I ’m sitting next to my poop.

With that amphibious role-playing in mind, I would say, if you already have the little guy in the family, make it the best frog sanctuary you can and max out your expertise on frog-keeping. Make sure the habitat is clean, lush, big enough, and designed just as his real home would be in nature. 

Only after you’ve given Kermit Kardashian an ultimate lifestyle makeover, (to make sure the frog show you’re watching is humane) do you worry about your daughter’s surrounding decor. 

I suppose the best backdrop for an aquarium or terrarium is something that doesn’t clash? You’ve brought the natural world indoors, so how about extending that natural feel into the room: add some houseplants, place a potted tree nearby, put up some fig or palm leaf wallpaper behind the terrarium.

If you’re not into jungle decor, bring some complementary colors into the room, so the rainforest tones of the terrarium are against a bold accent color such as a coral wall. Or, have something red near the green habitat- a red upholstered chair, fuchsia throw pillows, an orange bookcase. (Look at a color wheel: find some greens that you like, then look directly across from them, 180 degrees- those are the complementary colors.) If the terrarium is a substantial, strong feature, I would stay away from pastels as the backdrop- the dark greens and browns of the habitat will look like a stark display at Petco. Lots of white and off-white can be good as a clean and neutral contrast, but anchor the floor with a stronger color, so perhaps add a bright rug.

(Giving decorating tips is difficult without seeing what you’re starting with, so please feel free to send me a few photos & I would be happy to give you more specific pointers.)

I know I’m talking to an adult, so I don’t have to say that any pet is a big responsibility. (Though I guess I just said it.) Having a small pet in a cramped, enclosed environment is an even bigger responsibility so that its living situation is not cruel. Spend the money and time to create a spectacular home for the little critter’s health and happiness. Then create an altar-like wall display or even whole room around worshipping and loving your cold-blooded kin.

If you need some clarity, some change, or a refresh either inside or out, you’re in the right place. Aubrey Thorne is an astrologer, integrative coach, and feng shui designer in Los Angeles. She works with clients all over, both in-person and online. Feel free to contact Aubrey to ask a question or to schedule a consultation.