Living With Pets
I’m an avid animal lover and I can’t imagine living in my home without my beautiful cats (from left to right) Z, Tomba, Acorn and Po. Here are all of them checking out the new yard after having just moved into our current home. With four cats (believe it or not, I once had five + a Westie!), I’ve had to deal with every kind of mess, furniture damage and pet issue you can imagine. Here are some of my tried and true tricks for designing a home to work for you and your pets.
If you are set to renovate, work your pet’s storage and behavioural needs into the design for a seamless look. If you have the space, consider a dedicated dog-washing station by the back door, like the one in this year’s Princess Margaret Welcome Home Sweepstakes showhome. Or design a dedicated pet room like the one featured in our October 2010 issue (above). Either will make it far easier when you bring your pooch home from the park with dirty feet.
My signature design move for clients with cats is this litter box cubby configured into built-ins by a front or back door (I did the same in my own place). The cats love to use them and it’s a great way to keep an unsightly litter box out of sight. And if they track any litter from their paws, at least it’s by the door. Keep in mind you should always have one litter box more than the number of cats you have to keep everyone happy.
I don’t believe in de-clawing cats — ever. Instead, I’ve become a pro at trimming my cats’ claws and I am careful in my fabric and carpet choices. I usually skip silks and velvets and stick to cottons and wools. Carpet-wise, natural fibres like seagrass and sisal actually stand up really well to cat claws. The chunkier the seagrass, the less noticeable your cat’s handiwork will be. I have the diamond-patterned seagrass shown in this room, from The Red Carpet & Rug Co., and it was well worth the investment because it’s so durable. Plus, natural wool carpets are especially easy to clean. Be sure to have your carpets fibre protected — it makes such a difference when it comes to cleaning them.
I loved this idea of working a dedicated spot for your dog or cat into the bottom portion of a window seat design to sidestep any messy pet beds eating up valuable floor space. This photo is from the book Animal House Style (2001 Bulfinch Press) by Julie Szabo. It’s full of great tips and inspiring photography of pets at home.
Of course you can’t build in everything (especially where space is an issue), so your pet’s loose accessories have to work with the look of your home. I loved this DIY cat scratching post that is basically a flat painted block with a coir-wrapped pole mounted vertically in the centre (I actually made one myself a few years ago and all of my cats loved it). It has a clean, modern look — so much better than the store-bought carpet-wrapped versions.
Normally I wouldn’t suggest going out and spending a ton of money on pet-specific products, because they far prefer sleeping on your stuff anyway, but if you’re in the market for a dog bed, I love this cool acrylic one. And I feel the same about this raised pedestal cat bed, which feels like a sculpture. Place an Ikea Rens Sheepskin in it and you will have one happy cat. And it might keep them from sleeping in the salad bowl or bathroom sink.
Another must-have with pets is slipcovers. I have them fibre-protected or Scotchgarded as well. The beauty of slipcovers is that you can throw them into the washing machine in a flash for any doggy or kitty accidents.
My cats love to perch up high and look out over the action. No matter how hard I try, I can’t keep Po off my island.
If you have a kitchen like this one by Steven Gambrel with tons of gorgeous marble, bear in mind that perching cats also have a habit of throwing up now and again, so treat your counters with a triple seal to protect them from acid damage. You can get it from any stone supplier.
Hanging art low over food dishes is a cute way to bring your furry roommates into your decor.
I share my love of design and animals with Martha Stewart. She even put her pet chow on the back cover of her current issue! I recently visited her offices in New York (right) to meet her and see her new kitchen line carried at The Home Depot (they are beautiful by the way!).
While I was there, this lovely poodle hopped into a dog bed next to a laundry room set-up, and I thought what a great idea it would be to work a dog station into your laundry room or kitchen. And FYI, I swear by these glass jars for storing pet food — so much better looking than leaving it in the bag.
You want to do things that are fun for your pets but also work with your house (by the way, they also love radiant heat flooring!). And really, your pets want to cuddle up next to you more than anything. This is me with my cat Diego on the bed in my old house …
… and my cat Cali on the daybed in the same house. These photos were taken years ago and both of them have since passed away.
Nothing makes me happier than finding Po lounging on my best Hermes blanket or Z tucked into the sheets enjoying them as much as I do. If you feel the same way, you will also love this Japanese website, or Desire to Inpsire’s weekly Monday post on pets. I’ll finish off with one of their adorable photos …