If your family is anything like mine, your pets have full reign of the house. With two dogs and, most recently, an adorable kitten, it can be difficult to balance function and aesthetics. But with a little planning, you can create a home that’s as much their dream as yours.
Over the years I’ve added to the following list of things I consider when my clients ask me to design with their four-legged family members in mind. And excitingly, today there are more companies than ever making pet products that are both beautiful and eco-friendly.
Whether you’re a long-time pet owner looking to reimagine your space, or a first time puppy parent adjusting to sharing your home, these ideas will help you create interiors that are practical for pets, without sacrificing your personal style.
The most important considerations for selecting upholstery fabrics for my clients with pets are durability and stain resistance. Think carefully about what materials will attract fur (like velvet, mohair, and corduroy) and steer clear of delicate fabrics like silk that could be damaged by excited paws.
Leather (preferably sustainably-sourced leather) is a great option for homes with pets; you’ll be able to easily wipe off pet hair, plus it will deepen into a patina that can camouflage scratches. Some high-quality vegan leather options are also easy to clean and very durable.
One of my favorite performance fabrics is Crypton. Easy-to-clean and odor-free, these fabrics are stain-resistant and hold up against even in high-traffic areas. They’re also sustainably made.
If you’re working with an interior designer, ask about Guardian protection; at Olamar we offer it prior to delivering upholstery products for pet-owning clients.
The best trick in the book is to match your fabrics to your pet’s fur so that their shedding isn’t as noticeable. In my own home, for example, I used Tucker’s coloring to inspire the palette for the living room.
Skip the expensive rugs
With pets, accidents are inevitable. When they happen on expensive rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting, it can be painful.
Instead, look for rugs that tie your space together with their color or texture, but that you won’t be heartbroken to toss if a major accident occurs. Rugs with patterns especially help mask shedding and stains.
If you’re set on carpet, opt for modular carpet tiles like these from Flor that you can replace. If you’re not, consider easier-to-clean flooring that’s also toenail-proof. Painted concrete and ceramic tile are great options aesthetically and also provide your pet with a cool place to nap during hot weather.
Keep keepsakes safe
Just like with kids, if you own cats or dogs, particularly high-energy ones, you will want to keep cherished items in an inaccessible place. Expensive or heirloom keepsakes can come crashing down with a single tail wag or paw swipe! It’s also dangerous to keep candles and glass where your pets may knock them down. Enclosed china cabinets or cabinets with doors are a good option that allow you to display treasured items while keeping them safe.
Keep items on the floor to a minimum. Not only are they in the way, but they can also collect dust and hair and be a tempting place for marking. Instead, spend your decorating dollars on framed prints, photos, and art that you can hang out of reach.
Take time to research and find pet products you love
Pet beds, bowls, and toys have come a long way since I began my career as an interior designer. Now, instead of being limited to whatever you find at your local pet shop, there are independent companies making accessories that can match your personal style, and also your values!
Some of my favorite options for sustainable and stylish dog beds right now are Molly Mutt and Max Bone. Harry Barker’s rustic canvas bed would look great with farmhouse decor, while Parachute’s is the perfect addition to a sleek, contemporary home. Even better, all of these beds are eco-friendly.
If you have a feline four-legged friend, I recommend checking on Etsy for gorgeous hand-made cat teepees.
And don’t feel consigned to boring metal food and water bowls! If they’ll have a permanent place in your kitchen, they should be beautiful to look at. I’m currently loving these simple and chic dipped ceramic bowls from Waggo.
Choose metal finishes
Exposed wood on furniture could become your dog’s favorite chew toy – especially for puppies. If you’re planning on getting both a puppy and new furniture in the near future, save them the confusion of thinking it’s a stick they can play with and opt for metal or chrome.
Create a space just for them
Just like every other member of your family, your pet needs his or her own space. By designating an area for play, they’ll be able to relax in other parts of the house.
If you’ve had to transform an area of your home into an office this year, you know that stashing things out of sight is key. Do the same with pet toys as you would with home office supplies and kid’s toys. Keep their toys stored neatly away and out of view with beautiful wicker baskets that are lightweight and inexpensive.
Embrace the entryway
If you’re renovating or planning a new construction and you have a dog, you should definitely consider adding a mudroom to your design plans.
A place where you can get the mud off of them before they come into the rest of your house will save you time and headaches. Consider porcelain tiles on the walls and floors – so if they shake off after going outside in the rain nothing gets ruined.
Place hooks on the wall to hang leashes and create storage space for baggies, treats, and raincoats. Have a place where you can stash the wipes or towels you use to wipe the dirt off their paws when they come inside from the yard or a hike.
Pet-proof window treatments
Pets love to look out the window and bask in the sun. Don’t take away this joy by installing heavy window treatments! Choose lightweight, sheer fabric curtains so they can peer outside. And if you have a cat, make sure to choose blinds that are safe for them – pick out ones with short cords that they can’t get wrapped up in and get injured.
If you happen to be redesigning a kitchen or laundry room, consider adding storage that specifically meets your pet needs: built-in dog bowls, leash/collar storage, dog food storage. Maybe even a pet wash station! If at all possible installing an area for bathing your pets in the laundry room or garage could keep your bathroom the relaxing sanctuary it should be.
Incorporating your pet’s needs in the initial design phase is a unique opportunity. Keep it simple yet seamless with built-in litter boxes in laundry rooms or dog crates under the stairs.
Don’t forget the walls
Textured walls attract fur. Choose satin or a semi-gloss paint to help to repel fur and to keep walls from becoming dingy. And don’t be afraid to play with color! Bold choices will be more forgiving when it comes to scuff marks and pet hair.
Show your pets off
The goal of pet-friendly design is to create a harmonious space that every member of your family will love and feel equally at home in.
It’s their home too – so don’t be afraid to show them off! Decorating with paintings or photos of your pets shows everyone that they’re part of the family.
If you’re considering a design project and want to ensure your home will be both beautiful and functional, reach out! I’d be happy to give you a consultation on how your individual spaces could benefit from pet-friendly design.