• Living with pets

Animal Interiors: Decorating for Life with Pets

dog on couchLife with pets can be messy. They drool on the furniture, spit up hairballs on the bed and have "accidents" on the carpeting.


Most pet lovers agree that dealing with these problems is well worth the unconditional affection they receive in return. And yet, it would be nice if life with pets was a little less messy.

Recent trends in interior design combined with new home decor products are making it easier than ever to decorate a home that is both fashionable and pet-friendly. "Fashion-forward" ideas – from the pared-down look to slipcovers and floor pillows – work perfectly for the household that includes dogs and cats.

Bare it all
When decorating for life with pets, the most effective strategy is to work with materials that are sturdy and easy to clean.

Bare floors are the best choice for a home with pets, say the experts, who recommend replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with wood, tile or stone. Unlike carpeting — which traps pet hair, stains and odors — bare floors are easy to keep clean and won’t be permanently damaged if a pet "accident" isn’t cleaned up right away. Tile, slate and stone have another advantage for pets that suffer in the summer heat – because they stay cool and provide relief for your pet on even the hottest days.

Bare floors can be accented with small area rugs that are easy to pick up and clean. Be sure to secure area rugs with a non-stick mat or piece of heavy furniture — or pet activity will have them scattered around the house.

The "bare window" look – long favored by pet lovers — is also in fashion. Sheer curtains or simple shades have replaced long, heavy drapes that collect dust and pet hair.

Pets on the couch
One of the hottest trends in home fashion is the slipcover – an ideal design choice for homes with pets. They make changing the couch as easy as changing the bed, so Fido and Fluffy can relax on the sofa, worry-free. "Off the rack" loose-fit slipcovers are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns in washable fabrics like canvas, twill and denim. And companies ranging from Pottery Barn, IKEA and Ethan Allen offer custom-tailored slipcovers for many of the pieces they sell.

Of course, some pets prefer to lounge in their own sofa-beds and pet beds today are available in great looking patterns and fabrics that will coordinate with almost any décor. Your local Best Friends Pet Resort carries many of the latest styles. Be sure to choose a pet bed with a cover that zips off for washing.

If your pet’s bed absolutely must match the rest of the furnishings, one of the hot new oversized floor pillows covered in fabric that matches the throw pillows on your sofa is an option. Of course, this may not be of adequate size if you happen to share your home with a Mastiff or other large canine companion.

Accessorize, accessorize
Even pet products today are being fashioned with good design in mind. Why settle for ugly old plastic bowls for food and water, when there are beautiful ceramic dog and cat bowls and trendy stainless steel options available? They are just as washable, and are more attractive, than the plastic ones.

For large dogs, there are wooden or wrought-iron feeders with hand-painted or tiled tops and matching bowls. And, instead of an old plastic placemat, choose a specially-designed fabric mat that coordinates with your table linens!

For more ideas on decorating for life with pets, check your local library or booksellers. There are a variety of animal-inspirational books in current publication, including: Living with Dogs, by Laurence Sheehan and William Stites; Animal House Style, by Julie Szabo; and Flea Market Fidos, by Barry Leiner and Marie Moss.

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  • 535 Connecticut Ave, Suite 305
  • Norwalk, CT, 06854
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