Millions of pampered pets patrol homes throughout the country so it should come as no surprise that owners increasingly make interior design choices with their animals in mind.
Diane Barber, owner of Pet Spaces in Rolling Hills Estates in California, is one of a growing number of interior designers who enhance and create spaces for people with pets.
"It's really incorporating the animal's lifestyle into the people's lifestyle so there's a harmonious living space," she says.
It's not hard to do. Whether you're designing a home from the ground up or simply redecorating a room, today's market offers stylish yet durable products that make the task easier than ever before. Here are a few ideas and suggestions:
A trendy choice is decorative concrete - acid-stained, painted or colored. Laminate flooring that replicates hardwood or tile is another practical option. It won't dent or scratch like solid wood, and doesn't tear or yellow like vinyl. If your heart is set on real wood, choose a distressed style in a medium finish to hide hair and scuff marks.
Snag Free Carpets
Debbie Weiner of Designing Solutions in Silver Spring, Maryland recommends wool rugs because the fiber naturally repels liquids, making accidents easy to clean. But avoid looped textures, she says, that pet nails could pull on and undo. FLOR modular carpet tile is another smart solution. The squares are easy to install, and easy to clean - just remove the soiled section, and rinse in your sink.
You don't have to choose high or medium gloss paint finishes to easily wipe away brown smudge marks caused by the oil in your dog's coat. Today's manufacturers, including Benjamin Moore, Dutch Boy and Glidden, produce washable flat finishes that keep their original appearance even after scrubbing.
Recover upholstered pieces [or buy new ones] in stain and odor resistant fabrics that feel cozy for both humans and animals. Weiner recommends rugged outdoor fabric, sometimes sold under the trade name Sunbrella. Another choice is Crypton. Both brands offer fabrics in a multitude of colors, weaves and patterns.
When buying kitchen or pantry cabinets, Barber suggests pull out bins for bulky food and litter bags as well as other supplies.Add a draw for food bowls in thetoe-kick space, between a lower cabinet and the floor, to keep them out of the way until meal time. Also consider hiding your cat's litter box inside a cabinet and installing a pet door for easy access.
Worry-Free Window Treatments
Draperies add softness, color and pattern to a room but they also bring out your kitty's playful side, leaving behind hair and possibly damage. The solution? Roman or balloon styled fabric shades that stop at the sill, says Weiner, or try a valance paired with blinds.
Doggie Day Spas
A sought after feature in newly constructed homes is a dedicated dog shower. An outside entrance, or access from the garage, leads to the grooming area, which is built inside a laundry or mud room. The open stall shower is outfitted with a hand-held sprayer, and lined with non-slip porcelain tile. For small dogs, the Jentle Pet Spa has a generous bathing well with five full-size massage jets, and a low profile, rounded front for human comfort. Prices start at $1,119. A less expensive option is an outdoor faucet by Moen that delivers both hot and cold water so you can bathe your pooch in the backyard.
Many of today's household products can withstand abuse from even the most rambunctious dog or cat. By selecting the right fuss-free products, your pet can rule the house without ruining your interior.
Maryann Mott is a pet journalist based in Arizona. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic online, and Dog Fancy magazine.To see more of her work, visit her website: www.petwriter.com