Pet Friendly Design – Solving Interior Design Problems for Dog Owners

Being a pet owner can be put a damper on design plans. There are three basic principals dog owners have come to accept: white furniture is out of the question, hardwood is too easy to scratch, and the most expensive piece of plush furniture will ultimately be the favored resting place of your canine companion. There’s a wealth of design issues to wrap a tail around that could leave any dog and his master’s mind spinning. Whether you’re a new dog owner or experienced with the frustrations of doggie design, Darlene White, of Simplicity Home Staging & Design, offers design ideas that will keep owners stylish and their dogs still presuming they are master of their domain.

Stylish Sofas:

While it’s easy to say a dog’s place is not on the furniture, trying to teach him to stay off of something that is absolute heaven to the fur is another story. Gone are the days of worn sofas embedded with the frayed image of Fido’s body in the cushion. New advances in sofa design allow pet owners comfort and style. Crypton is a nearly indestructible synthetic fabric that’s resistant to stains. It’s perfect for muddy paws and the dirt and grime doggie fur can leave behind. For a less expensive alternative, try an ultra suede microfiber, which is smooth to the touch and often sheds stains with the brush of a hand. If purchasing a new sofa is not in the design plans, try a sofa cover with ScotchGuard. These covers are stylish and come in an array of colors and designs. Sofa covers now come in stretch fabrics that make it difficult to tell the sofa has been covered. To keep the sofa fabric underneath from discoloring or fraying, place an old sheet under the cover. It will act as a barrier to protect the sofa underneath. Two fabrics to avoid: velvet and leather. A dog’s fur will cling to velvet and make it extremely difficult to remove the hair. While some owners presume leather is a good choice for dogs, it’s actually quite delicate to the nails and tasty to the tummy. There’s a reason Fido finds those expensive leather shoes delectable – the smell. The same is true for a leather sofa. A general rule of thumb for pet owners -be weary of furniture that produces a scent.

Stylish Floors:

Carpeting gets dirty, hardwood gets scratched, and for pet owners flooring options gets limited. Unfortunately, flooring choices seem to depend on the pup. If the warm comfort of carpeting is a necessity, try FLOR carpet tiles. These 19.7″ x 19.7″ tiles join together to make a full carpet or area rugs. With a multitude of styles, an owner can mix and match designs to create a custom look or select a simple traditional design. FLOR has even teemed with Martha Stewart to offer a larger variety of stylish selections. Easy to clean, if a dog soils an area, just pull it up, follow the simple cleaning instructions, allow it to dry, and return it to the floor. If hardwood is an absolute must have, stick to the harder woods which are more durable and scratch resistant: oak, cherry, maple, hickory, elm, balsa, mahogany, and sycamore. Softer woods such as birch, cedar, pine, redwood, fir, and larch will dent and scratch more easily. According to Bella Wood, small scratches can be repaired by purchasing a kit but larger scratches will require light sanding and a new coat of varnish. While some owners have had success with laminate surfaces, which comes in a variety of hardwood, tile, and slate, laminate can also scratch. Some dogs also have a difficult time walking on laminate floors. The best solution for stylish floors: stained concrete, tile, or slate. Mix and match these surfaces with carpet tiles and never worry about soiled and scratched surfaces again.

Stylish Furnishings:

Compromising furniture is a thing of the past. While metal and glass will withstand the jowls of any pup, wood is not out of the question. When selecting furniture and accessories, consider the age of a dog. Puppies will be more prone to gnaw on woods and it’s probably best to avoid wood furniture until a pup is through his terrible twos. If eliminating wood furnishings is not an option, consider crating Fido while no one is around to supervise. Chew toys and regular exercise also keeps a dog at peace and less likely to destroy his owner’s home. Installing an invisible fence inside the home allows owners to keep dogs out of a room without doors or baby gates.

Stylish Accessories:

Because dogs are like children, it’s important to be sure there’s nothing within Fido’s reach that can be hazardous to his health. Place accessories high enough that a dog cannot reach them. Pieces that are lower to the floor should be larger in scale. As a general rule of thumb an accessory should be two to three times the size of what a dog can swallow. Antiques, precious family heirlooms, and expensive pieces should be kept out of a dog’s reach. Consider getting on all fours and crawling around the room. Look at the room from the perspective of your pet to see what they see and what may be of potential interest. Large breed dog owners should come up to a kneeling position and determine what a dog can get into at this height. Then plan your accessory placement accordingly.

Stylish Walls:

Teach Fido not to jump early. Scratches and dents in walls can be difficult to repair. Flat paint will be nearly impossible to clean. Consider painting in a satin, eggshell, or semi-gloss which is the easiest to wipe up.

Doggie Design is within an owner’s reach. Practicality and function can blend seamlessly with personal taste -the owner’s and the dogs. With so many choices available, there’s no reason for owners to feel they are living in a dog house. Stylish sofas, fabulous floors, and fine furnishings will make Fido and family the envy of the neighborhood.

© 2007 Darlene White, Simplicity Home Staging & Design