Pet parents can have nice things, too, with a little innovation and imagination
Stephanie Granada and Joanna Linberg
November 19, 2015
| Updated November 19, 2018
Thomas J. Story
1 of 12
Thomas J. Story
Pet-Proof Your Home in Style
You love your furry babies and want to provide a happy, comfy space for them to roam. But, with great pets comes the great responsibility of cleaning up after them and taking care of any prized furnishings. It can be easy, then, to lean totally utilitarian when it comes to home decor. Who needs the stress of chasing kitties off couches, crying over a soiled rug, or desperately cleaning floors on the daily? Fortunately, you can have it all: a well-designed and paw-friendly abode. Follow this cheat-sheet filled with hacks, tips, and products to help you master the art of stylish living with pets.
Courtesy of J. Martin Builders
2 of 12Courtesy of J. Martin Builders
Become a Master of Disguise
Between the food, toys, litter boxes, leashes, and so on, the well-stocked pet house can accumulate a lot of clutter. That is, unless you take advantage of smart space-savers. For a custom finish, Montana’s J. Martin Builders advocates for a built-in doghouse under the stairs, like this rustic hideout that seamlessly blends into its surroundings. Other clever design hacks include storing kibble in a kitchen pull-out drawer, or using the negative space under a desk, bedroom bench, kitchen island, or side table to house a pet crate or dog bed. Keep things in order by designating an area (maybe near the entryway or in a mudroom) to hang leashes and hide brushes, waste bags, wipes, and other knick-knacks. Furniture-like pet decór, like this cabinet that tidily stores feed and feeders, can also provide elegant alternatives—just be sure to leave bowl drawers open, so Fluffy always has access to water.
Courtesy of KATRIS
3 of 12Courtesy of KATRIS
Invest in Rad Pet Furniture
Speaking of furniture, pet gear has come a long way. From architect-designed doghouses to handmade ceramic pet bowls to covetable dog beds, furball-loving brands are creating functional pieces that make a statement in the home. Even toys are getting the royal treatment. Just look at California-based KATRIS’ modular cat trees, which can be configured in a million ways to provide endless feline fun and serve as sleek storage solutions. Made mostly using recycled paper, the blocks are surprisingly sturdy and created to stand up to lots of scratching.
Courtesy of FLOR
4 of 12
Courtesy of FLOR
Start from the Ground Up
OK, we’re not suggesting you invest in all-new floors, but if you’re on the market for new digs anyhow, then it’s worth considering one of the myriad of pet-specific materials. FLOR’s carpet tiles (pictured) can simply be lifted and replaced if any of them get stained, and the “House Pet” collection looks a little furry already, so stray hairs won’t be a big deal. Stainmaster’s PetProtect line is made from a nylon that resists pet stains and it comes in 200 colors that won’t fade easily if you need to use hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners. Fossilized bamboo gives you the warmth of wood floors without the likelihood of getting scratched or dented (and it’s a sustainable material!). And, tiles are possibly the most worry-free flooring for pet-owners: they’re easy to clean, won’t stain, and won’t scratch much.
5 of 12Dave Lauridsen
Animals are going to shed, and for many of us, the never-ending battle to keep pets off the furniture simply isn’t worth the fight. So, the next best thing calls for embracing the fur by decorating with some semblance of it. And, why not? The soft material gives rooms a plush, luxurious feel. Scrounge up a handful of faux fur or fuzzy fleece blankets, which you can drape over your pup’s preferred spots on couches, chairs, and on the edge of your bed. Fuzzy wool area rugs, like Person + Dog’s Saguaro Wool Dog Pad, can also go in strategic spots along hardwood floors and carpeted rooms. This will keep surfaces cleaner, while camouflaging the mountains of hair that will inevitably trail your four-legged friends.
Courtesy of Hunter Douglas
6 of 12Courtesy of Hunter Douglas
Choose Paw-Proof Windows
Window treatments can easily turn into a kitty’s favorite toy and young pups are known for poking heads through flimsy blinds. There are ways to deter both, but to avoid headaches, go for something robust like wood shutters. Shades (whether cellular, Roman, or roller) are another good option, and they continue to get more and more chic. For proof, look at Hunter Douglas’ lineup. Choose a semi-opaque set that will allow sunlight to shine through without tempting pups with any flurry of activity that might be going on outside. Hunter Douglas’ shades are also cordless—a necessary safety consideration for pets—and you can easily fling shades open during the day, so furry friends have sunny spots to lounge. Drapes aren’t out of the question, either. But, when you go there, lean toward heavy fabrics and avoid flimsy silk or fur-magnetic materials, like velvet. Which brings us to our next point…
Courtesy of Joybird
7 of 12
Courtesy of Joybird
Find the Right Upholstery Fabric
Upholstery can be tricky. Many fabrics are way too susceptible to claws, accidents, and hair. Don’t want to keep furniture perpetually hidden under slipcovers? Choose pet-friendly fabrics from the get-go. As a rule of thumb, tighter weaves are more durable. Microfiber is your best friend: it has no loops where claws can get caught and goes a long way in disguising hair. Plus, the material comes in a range of prices and colors. Leather, though easy to scratch, is even easier to clean (and the scratches can give it a nice patina, anyway). Whatever route you go, steer clear of light colors, which require a lot of maintenance. Patterns help camouflage small stains and fur; and anytime you can match the surface—whether solid or patterned, smooth or textured—to your clan’s fur, you’ll be ahead of the game. For a sure thing, look to fur-friendly furniture manufacturer Joybird, which has dozens of fabrics selected with furry friends in mind—including a velvety microfiber and supple leather—to match its handsome roster of couches and chairs.
Thomas J. Story
8 of 12
Thomas J. Story
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Heavy-Duty
If you have an entire pack in your home or your furball is particularly rambunctious, you might want to skip traditional upholstery and go straight for a strong, stain-resistant material that’s meant for indoor-outdoor use. We’re huge fans of Sunbrella fabric at Sunset. Why? The fabric is made of solution-dyed acrylic so you can bleach it and the color won’t change. As far as spills go, liquids simply pool on top until you soak them up with a sponge or towel. And Sunbrella offers so many textures, patterns, and colors, you’ll have plenty of options for your upholstery and curtains. (Or a very fashionable pet bed!)
Courtesy of Bow Wow Beds / Christina Gmyr
9 of 12Courtesy of Bow Wow Beds / Christina Gmyr
Cover the Crate
You can invest in a cool pet crate that you’d actually want to show off, but even if you’re still relying on metal or plastic standards, all is not lost. First, an exercise: look at the picture above. Can you spot the crate? It’s there hiding under lovely ikat cloth cover. Pet brands are now doling out fashionable kennel dressings as a way to elevate the boxy staple. Bow Wow Beds allows you to choose from hundreds of modern fabrics to make a cover that fits your doggy’s den just right, and its roll-up panels can easily be lifted for added ventilation or dropped to conceal the clutter.
Courtesy of Dash & Albert
10 of 12Courtesy of Dash & Albert
Swap for the Right Rugs
The rug and pet combo is a sensitive subject. Too many of us have had a beloved rug ruined by a well-meaning pup. Still, when chosen correctly, rugs can be a secret weapon for brightening up a space and protecting delicate floors. Many praise the benefits of jute and other natural fibers (they score on affordability and cleanability), but these design workhorses also trap odors (not so great when you’re puppy training or have an older canine). And, they lure kitty claws. High-pile styles, like shag and Berber, are also prone to getting clawed, so avoid those, as well as delicate fibers that have to be dry cleaned. So, what options does that leave you with? Hands-down the best bet is an outdoor-quality rug. Dash & Albert—named after designer Annie Selke’s pooches—has a line called PET Rugs with carpeting that is soft like wool and scrubbable. Plus, they’re made with recycled plastic bottles, which means they’re good for animals and the environment.
Pam Flaherty, courtesy of The Plant Farm
11 of 12Pam Flaherty, courtesy of The Plant Farm
Go Green—with Care
We love a plant-filled home just as much as the next person, but as harmless as they may seem, some popular greenery is toxic to pets. Fiddle leaf fig, aloe vera, lilies, and split-leaf philodendron are a handful of the most common offenders. In a dog home, you can get away with placing greenery high up in spots Fido can’t reach, but if you have climb-happy cats, then change up the lineup. Spider plants (pictured), palms, Boston ferns, and echeveria succulents are all safe territory, among other pet-friendly plants.
Courtesy of Comfort Works
12 of 12Courtesy of Comfort Works
Enlist the Trusty Slipcover
If pets are allowed on the furniture, another option is to use a slipcover. You’ll be pleased to know that today’s slipcovers are not the drab bunch of yesteryear. Now, brands like Comfort Works and Bemz (which focus on covers for IKEA couches, among other brands) offer a range of colors and shapes that do way more than just protect what’s underneath—they beautifully transform furniture. Then, when muddy paws appear, you can just remove the slipcover and wash it (with bleach if it’s white or on gentler cycles for more delicate fabrics). Use a similar strategy for cotton bedding that can take frequent washes on warm water.
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Get fresh recipes, wine pairings, weekend getaway ideas, regional gardening tips, home design inspiration, and more.