Designing a Pet Friendly Home

Designing for your dog or cat? Well, sort of. Think of it as more of a lifestyle choice. Pets add so much to our lives. Some might say that a house isn’t a home without the pitter-patter of paws.


You may be balancing kids and pets, or perhaps your adult children have left the nest. Whether remodeling, new construction or designing a second home, why not make things as comfortable and easy-care as possible for you and your critters. Let’s concentrate on cats and dogs since they are the most popular housemates.

Things to consider:

  • Walls
  • Flooring
  • Furnishings and accessories
  • Sleep space
  • Play space

Floors for Pets’ Paws & People

Start from the bottom up. What flooring surface works best for your lifestyle and animal companions?

Carpeting is quiet and comfy but if your precious is a Persian, be prepared to purchase a heavy-duty vacuum. The best defense may be matching the carpet color to the fur color. Stainmaster has a line of PetProtect Carpet with guarantees against pet stains, though that won’t help with shedding.

Hardwood or laminate floors are noisier, which may be a consideration if you have a large breed dog. Marmaduke’s claws may also scratch softer floors, such as pine, and lesser quality laminates.

Hardwood stairs are slippery for furry feet, so add a carpet runner or treads (sisal hides a lot of dirt and is easy for paws to grip).

Stop dirt at the door!

A great strategy when planning for pets (especially larger ones or multiples) is dedicating space at an entrance such as a mudroom. Tile or heavy-duty vinyl flooring is easy to mop clean of muddy paw prints and stray kitty litter.

Hang hooks for towels, collars and leashes, and have a basket for pet toys. Having a sink or dog-washing station is even better. Paint the walls or wainscoting with washable paint (at minimum a satin or eggshell finish, not flat) and wipe down at least seasonally. When Rufus shakes or Bernie the Saint Bernard drools, you’ll be glad you used semi-gloss.

Shelving units like those to organize closets are an attractive way to store pet shampoo, brushes, dog sweaters, etc. Can you slide a litter box underneath?      

Of course, regular grooming including clipping nails, washing, combing and brushing can go a long way toward keeping your pooch, feline and your home clean! Pet odors come from fur or hair, and skin oils. Anything you can do to keep Fido or Fluffy clean means a cleaner home and furniture for your family.

Lounge Act

If you’re going to let furry friends on the couch (as if you can keep them off!), you need domestic-catupholstery that’s forgiving of sharp claws, hair and fur. Made to be moisture-, stain- and odor-resistant materials that are easy care include canvas or “duck”-type fabrics, and indoor/outdoor materials such as Sunbrella or Crypton.

Traditional Home magazine even suggests taking upholstery samples home, to “pet” your dog or cat with them, to see what camouflages hair best! (Warning word to the wise: chenille and velvet are fur and hair magnets.)

Slipcovers in a sturdy washable fabric may be your saving grace. When company comes, even if there’s not time to wash and replace them, you can always whisk them off and tuck them out of sight. (Wash-and-dry duvet covers do the same trick for your bed.)

A lint roller in the coffee or end table drawer may be your second-best friend for quick clean-ups.

Quality leather or Pleather is a good choice if your buddy doesn’t have long claws and won’t use the sofa as a scratching post (provide an alternative, like a cat condo, for climbing and scratching). But it does age over time, gets scratches and discolored from the oils in an animal’s coat or skin. Rambo the Rottie may be persuaded to adopt a corner of the couch if you keep a favorite blanket or throw to nest in on top of the upholstery.

Ever notice how cats and dogs move from place to place throughout the day to nap? If you provide more than one perch or bed, you have a better chance of keeping them off the wing chair. Pet lovers have even designed end tables with cozy crates underneath, and wall units and bookshelves incorporating a den-like cubby for Cujo.

Window dressing is another important consideration. If your kitty is a climber, cross floor-to-ceiling silk drapes off your wish list. Roman shades are a better option and you can dress them up with a swag or valance.

Cats jump up, and a Dalmatian or Lab’s tail can swipe a table clean in an instant, so place any fragile accessories behind glass in a display case.

Rumpus Room?

A basement or “rec” room is an ideal roughhousing place for children and pets. Leave lots of open space and put a carpet or rug down. If your pet is older or if you have puppies or kittens, consider “tiling” the floor with individual carpet squares, which can be replaced as needed.

Whether coarse or wiry hair, kitten soft fur or short-haired coat or however our pets are dressed, we love ’em! Ask the animal lovers at 3W Design how you can welcome them into your home with style and comfort.

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