designing with pets

With a little research and a little effort, interior designer and Wares columnist Cami Weinstein says, you can create a home that you and your furry, feathered friends will love.

During the pandemic, pet ownership surged to all-time highs, emptying shelters and increasing interest in purchasing from breeders. Pets staved off the loneliness of being isolated and many people just jumped at the chance to own a pet, given that working from home now enabled them to care for a pet. Pets are a wonderful part of our lives. They bring unconditional love to us and their comic antics add laughter as well. For families, they are a teaching moment, too. It’s so important for children to learn to care and to take care of another living thing. 

The joys of pet ownership far out way the inconvenience of caring for a pet.  Living with a pet can be challenging. When choosing one you should carefully consider your lifestyle and what kinds of changes you are willing to make to accommodate this new creature in your life. The considerate researching of different breeds can make for a happier addition to your home.  

If you have family members who have allergies, consider a hypoallergenic breed. There are both cats and dogs that are bred to be more compatible with allergy sufferers.  If barking or yapping dogs drive you crazy, consider some of the quieter breeds such as a Basenji or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  If you are personally active, then a high-energy dog such as a Jack Russell Terrier or a Poodle that can accompany you on a daily run may be more to your favor. If constant shedding will drive you up the wall, think about getting a Bichon Frise or a Chinese Crested dog. If you have a family with small children, a Labrador Retriever or a Boston Terrier is a good choice.

Once you have decided on your pet of choice or shelter pet, consider if you want to get a puppy or an older pet that is already house broken.  Although puppies are beyond adorable and fun, they are a lot of work and an older pet can offer companionship without the work of training it.  Older pets often make great choices for retired or elderly people. 

Bringing your pet home requires some thought. Set up a designated area for your pet where it can feel safe. If it’s a puppy, child gates and a penned-in area may be prudent. Add some toys and a dog bed so your new addition understands where its own space is. Set up its own feeding station, keep a leash nearby for walks and, of course, poop scoop bags. 

Living with pets also requires some thought when furnishing your home.  I encourage my clients to consider performance fabrics when purchasing upholstered pieces. While performance fabric costs more than regular fabric, it wears better so it saves money in the long run. If your pet sheds, then a heavy-duty vacuum with attachments for pet hair is a must. (A good pet brush will keep its coat in tip-top shape). Keep houseplants away from your pet, because some plants are poisonous or can make your pet sick. Puppies love to chew, so keep shoes, slippers and electrical wires away from them.

Recently, my son Gregory and his fiancée, Michaela Pavia, brought home their Doodle puppy, Franklin. (Franklin was the engagement ring bearer, with the ring tied to his collar.) The pair carefully researched different breeds and reputable breeders and have waited months for Franklin to be born and ready to come home. They have their home set up to accommodate their puppy.  They chose a Doodle, because they both have allergies and never wanted to be in a position of not being able to care for him because of their allergies.  We can’t wait to have the puppy join our family, because all of us want to help in anyway we can to take care of him with them.  After this long pandemic, I have a feeling this little guy is going to the light at the end of the tunnel. 

For more, call 203-661-4700 or visit

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