Decorating with pets in mind

Wares columnist Cami Weinstein shares her pointers for incorporating pets into our homes.

Pets bring us tremendous joy, unconditional love and are often an endless source of entertainment. They create a sense of family: Having had pets while our children were growing up, I could see how they taught them to care and nurture something other than themselves. Pets need attention, exercise, food and love, teaching children the importance of responsibility. Incorporating pets into our homes, however, takes some thought, so here are some pointers to keep both pets and pet owners happy. 

Pet dander is a problem for people with allergies. A pet that is hypoallergenic should be a consideration for anyone with allergies. Adding an air filter to your home, vacuuming and wiping down surfaces often are all ways to keep your home and pet healthier. I would purchase carpets and rugs with a low profile because they will be easier to keep clean.

For upholstered pieces, there are many different styles of indoor-outdoor fabrics to use that can easily stand up to both children and pets. They are easy to clean and durable and are now available in so many different patterns and design styles. Look for heavy-duty fabrics with a tight weave. Some of the larger loose weaves look great but don’t wear well. Claws and nails can easily get caught in wider weaves and either injure your pet or destroy your upholstered piece. Often both happen. If you have cats, try leaving scratching posts out to divert them from your furnishings. Dogs, particularly puppies, love to chew. Chewing on your furniture should not be one of their choices. Give them plenty of chew toys to enjoy. There are also some commercial products that can be sprayed onto furniture to keep dogs from gnawing on it. 

Consider your pet’s fur color when decorating. I know this sounds crazy but why purchase a white sofa if your pet is dark brown or black? You will forever be trying to get every pet hair up. Consider a charcoal gray or navy sofa instead. This doesn’t mean you should forgo cleaning, but it will make your upkeep a little easier — not to mention preserving your sanity — since those stray hairs are not so highly visible. 

Pets like to have their own designated areas that they learn are their own special places to sleep and feel safe. There are so many wonderful dog beds and crates to keep them contained. The design styles are limitless and can easily be found to match your décor. Also, there are many custom options that can be created to keep pet areas fashionably decorated. 

Dogs in particular like to be near their human family, so make sure your dog’s bed is near all of the family action. The kitchen and family room offer the chance for them to be involved in your daily life. Our dog loved to be curled up in the middle of everyone on the sofa and tucked under a throw. Unfortunately she was never a dog-bed type. We went through countless throws since she liked to be cuddled up in them and would often bite the edges of them as she tried to burrow. She was convinced she was human. 

Entertaining can also be a feat with a pet. Often pets like to pilfer snacks and food right off the table. To avoid them doing that, keep food on the back of counters and away from far-reaching paws.  Keep your pets’ food area in a designated place of your home. Keeping dog and cat food bowls on placemats makes for easy cleanup. I have also seen dog food bins created in mud room cabinetry and pull-out dog drawers complete with food and water bowls for easy compact storage once your pet is finished eating. This idea works amazingly well in tight kitchen spaces.

Walk your pets often to prevent accidents. Both of you will be much happier. Pets really just want to please their owners and feel awful and embarrassed when they have accidents. Living with pets can help your well-being and keeping them stylishly included in your life is an added bonus.

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