Writer Jean Cocteau once mused, "I love cats because I enjoy my home; little by little, they become its visible soul." Dog owners feel the same way. The downside of sharing our homes with pets, of course, is dirt, hair and odors. How to keep things chic and clean? Designers and manufacturers offer some ideas.
Liz Levin's experience with her own menagerie of kids and pets led her to launch a design service, Liz Levin Nesting. Her advice? Color-coordinate with your pets.
"Flying fur's a reality. Unless you're prepared to stand guard with your vacuum 24/7, choose a color that blends with your pet. If you have a black Lab, for the sake of your sanity, don't pick a cream-colored sofa," she says.
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Cats' independent streak makes them difficult to train; better to just work around them. "Floor lamps with heavy bases. Glass tops for fragile finishes. And a good scratching post!" Levin counsels.
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Pets sleep a lot during the day — dogs about 13 hours, cats several more — so bedding is key.
"Most dogs like to stretch out on rectangular beds that keep their shape, with defined edges for hanging one's head over," says Julia Szabo, author of Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot's Digs Stylish and Spotless (Howell, 2009).
She recommends a polar-fleece, futon-style bed by Bowser "that's tufted, so the insides don't shift. Burrowing dogs, such as dachshunds, should have a small blanket they can snuggle under. Cats prefer a round concave nest."
Pet beds should be placed away from drafty, high-traffic zones, which can disrupt rest and lead to health problems.
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William Wegman, the photographer best known for Weimaraner portraits, has designed a fun line of illustrated fabrics for pet beds. The Crypton material is resistant to stains and odor.
Crypton carpeting is in the works, too.
TempurPedic makes a great bed for older, arthritic dogs. Put a Throver over the top to protect the cover; it's a stain-repellent, two-sided blanket that doubles as a furniture cover.
Cool Bed III is a refillable waterbed for dogs. Bowser's Buttercup microfiber and fleece cat nest has a drawstring to close it up snugly.
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Want your pet's bed to blend into your decor? Consider the Hardwood Hideaway, a side table with a door that opens to a sleeping spot. Place it next to your bed or the living room sofa; the door can be adjusted to allow pets independent access, and the piece is available in several finishes.
Bowser's Moderno chair is a contemporary, upholstered chair that looks like a miniature Corbusier. Max Comfort's Gustavo pet sofa is a stylish lounger complete with memory foam mattress.
Cats, privacy seekers always, might love one of the chic, spacey looking "pods" from Hepper Home. And Merry Products' "Atmosphere" is a groovy bamboo sphere cradling a polyester cushion.
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Szabo says floor maintenance is another priority. Elevate your pets' food dishes if you can, for easier eating and less mess. Moderntails.com has a number of contemporary and classic dish styles. They also stock rubber mats in different styles and sizes.
Cats tend to prefer a wide, shallow dish that accommodates sensitive whiskers.
Moppable surfaces like wood, bamboo and tile work best — stick to light-toned woods to hide scratches. Carpet is necessary if you live in an apartment where the clicking of claws may disturb neighbors.
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Indeed, it's best to stay away from highly perfumed pet products altogether. Remember that animals have keen smell receptors. Clean pet areas with green products that have little or no scent (such as Sun & Earth or Earth Friendly Products), and for fabrics, try Get Serious, a stain and odor extractor that many pet owners swear by.