It's a question that comes up frequently for interior designers: How do you create a stylish living space when a dog that sheds or a cat that scratches is part of the mix?
We've quizzed designers Mallory Mathison, Janine Carendi and Brian Patrick Flynn about their favorite strategies for designing when pets (and sofa scratching, chair chewing and seat staining) are in the picture.
All three designers mentioned using indoor/outdoor rugs and fabrics in homes with pets. Flynn especially likes the velvetlike durable fabrics made by Sunbrella, which he says feel wonderful and can be washed with soap and water.
Carendi points out that regular indoor fabrics can be treated to make them durable and stain-resistant.
In homes with a new puppy or kitten, Flynn suggests putting treasured pieces of furniture away to protect them. Wood is most at risk from scratching and chewing, so remove temptation by using furniture with metal legs. Are snags or stains on upholstery a potential problem? Choose a sofa with seat cushions that are upholstered on both sides, so they can be flipped over to hide damage. Carendi mentions one other weapon: safety gear designed for babies. She has used protective corners made to protect toddlers from sharp edges to keep pets from chewing on the corners of furniture.
Many pets shed, leaving hair on furniture and floors. There is no easy solution, but here are some ideas for combatting the problem: Choose colors that blend with the pet's hair color, and choose woven and nubby fabrics, which may show less pet hair than smoother surfaces. Vacuuming and lint-brushing also help. One last strategy that's simple and effective: If your pet has adopted a particular piece of furniture as a napping spot, keep a blanket draped over it.
Gathering the gear
To wrangle pet gear, designer Mallory Mathison says, "pet centers" are becoming popular. These pieces of furniture include pull-out shelves that can hold the pet's food and water dishes, and drawers for things like leashes, brushes and dog sweaters.
"Another idea is a cabinet that looks like a drawer front, and when you pull it out there is a food and water bowl," Mathison says. "When company comes, just slide in the drawer and the food is cleaned up." Such pieces also can conceal a litter box.
For sleeping, all three designers suggested buying an inexpensive pet bed and recovering it with fabric that matches your living room or bedroom decor. You can have it reupholstered or just have a slipcover made, or even do it yourself. Ideally, have it match your sofa or bedspread fabric exactly. If you prefer simplicity, designer Janine Carendi says, nothing beats a large dog pillow covered in a fabric that coordinates with your home.