DESIGNING WITH PETS IN MIND
Our furry friends are just as much a part of the family as any of our two-legged members. We often get clients embarrassedly asking us to make considerations for their pets in our design when really that is a key factor in making the space functional + attractive for everyone! What are places to invest in and change for your pet and what are places you should leave and make them adapt to? The answer should become clear as we explore pet-appropriate materials, attractive furniture for our critters, storage for all of their items, and appropriate accommodations.
When investing in higher quality furniture it can be rather nerve-wracking with your pets in mind! What if your beloved animal has an accident on your new (and expensive) rug? Or your feline friend makes a scratch post out of your carefully selected sofa? Making original material selections that are stain-resistant and durable will help circumvent some of these fears.
You can select materials that are inherently stain and odor resistant which comes down to how the fibers of the fabric are constructed. Fabrics whose fibers are wound more tightly together create less pores for stains to absorb into (think Wool and Leather in terms of natural materials, and Nylon, Olefin, and Acrylic in terms of synthetic materials). This gives you a limited amount of options for upholstery which is why the improvement of protective coatings has been so exciting! New technology from companies like Crypton and Alta make it possible for almost any fabric or rug to become durable + pet-friendly.
TRAINING YOUR PET
Other concerns like your cat kneading fabrics or wear and tear from dogs on furniture are a little less cut and dried. In terms of dogs on furniture, high quality materials and the above mentioned protective coatings will already help a great deal in making sure the fabrics do not pill and wear out. If you have a cat who has a tendency to scratch your beloved furniture (like I do) there are a couple of workarounds.
First, make sure you always keep your cats nails trimmed, so if there are any slip-ups it doesn’t leave as bad of a mark. Secondly, make sure you keep an engaging scratch post of some sort (see pet furniture section below) near the spot they like to scratch, and toys they love on hand! A lot of times cats scratch our furniture out of boredom. Lastly, try a homemade citrus spray like the one described here to repel your cat from the furniture.
This is an area where you should not compromise on the fabric you want for the sake of your pet! Diligence over a short period of time will pay off in terms of training your dogs + cats to treat your furniture with respect.
Our pets have a lot of items we need readily on hand that are not incredibly attractive; toys, leashes, food, water, and grooming supplies just to name a few. What are functional and attractive storage solutions that keep these items accessible, yet hidden away? An easy solution is putting hooks within a coat closet or cabinet where each item has a designated hook. Simple sounding, but a functional alternative to tossing items in a drawer and struggling to find them when necessary.
For toys, we want these to be accessible to our pets but have a designated place to go back to when company is coming over! A bin that sets under a bench or side table can be a great way to do this. We like the Restore Basket from Design Within Reach as an example of an attractive, durable bin that would fit the majority of pet toys cleanly away.
FOOD AND WATER
Pet food is so much easier to distribute and stays fresher when it is transferred from the bag to a sealed canister. This canister then sets cleanly away either in the pantry or a cabinet. Storage for a food + water dish can prove a bit more difficult. We love this solution from our longtime friend and collaborator, Buckenmeyer Architecture, which sets aside an integrated spot for these items.
Obviously, not all of us are redoing our kitchen and have the ability to design integrated functions for our pets! Finding somewhere out of the way + somewhat hidden is ideal, and/or selecting playful + simple feeders like the Cena Dog Feeder from MiaCara. Providing built-in items for a pet can be a bit of a no-no unless you plan to have a pet and need that function forever or the built-in can function as something else as the above alcove will be able to.
Hiding pet furniture as much as possible is desirable, but for where it is visible finding an attractive option can be a tall order. Here are a few products we like that should set you on the right course for making those selections!
Wherever your pet’s bed may be, finding something comfortable that doesn’t detract from the room’s overall aesthetic is key! We really want to avoid carefully designing a room and selecting furniture just to have a generic bed carelessly thrown in distract from your beautiful room. Here are a few options we like:
Comes in two sizes so it’s appropriate for all sizes of animals!
As mentioned above, a scratch post is a crucial tool in preserving your furniture against cats who find joy in scratching different surfaces. Here are a few options that are interesting, minimal, and playful!
The simplicity and materiality of this post make it more of a sculptural “art” piece in your home vs. solely acting as a scratch post for your cat!
This simple solution from Ikea allows you to wrap the scratch mat around any table leg avoiding the need for a standalone post!
Another option for a bed, but the materiality and shape could encourage your cat to use it as a scratch post as well (especially paired with some catnip spray). We love the whimsy of the shape, but softness and maturity of the material.
Finding a spot for your litter box is probably the least fun part about moving into a new space or rearranging an existing one. These hidden litter boxes make it a little easier as the exterior becomes more attractive + the enclosure keeps litter and odor from seeping out.
The key with any pet furniture piece, whether it’s one listed here or not, is making sure it at least blends into the background, or ideally, enhances the design aesthetic of your space with its playfulness, materiality, and/or shape.
We hope we have given you some inspiration for how to combine the love of your pet with the love of your home and that all of our four-legged and two-legged friends are doing well!