June 01, 2012
The furry side
Designing a pet-friendly living room
Living with pets isn’t always easy on the decor.
Your gorgeous living room furniture is likely to be chewed, scratched or soiled. Nothing is resistant to dog teeth. Living with pets often presents challenges, but it’s easy to create or design living rooms that are pet-friendly, stylish and beautiful.
And just because you have one (or several) “companion animals,” as they’re being called, doesn’t mean you can’t have a Louis XIV armchair, it just means you have to a little more creative and innovative.
According to Cat Hackman, interior designer of Room4Requirement, it’s easy to have a stylish living room and focus on Fido as family.
“I think it comes down to being very, very practical about everything, all of the materials you use, and making decisions about how you’re going to live with your pets,” she says. “Are they going to be allowed up on furniture, or not?”
Being an interior designer, Hackman loves to use white in her living space. All of her furniture is white. But that doesn’t prevent her beloved golden doodle, Gustave, from enjoying it, too.
“It’s all slip-covered,” Hackman says of her living room furniture. “In a very durable cotton and I can wash it. I use the same coloured blankets as the slip-covers, because they’re easier to wash.”
Hackman says fabric should be tight, so that pets don’t get tangled up in it.
She also suggests ordering extra fabric the same colour as furniture to lay over top of those pieces when your animals want to crash on the couch with you.
And if your pet is not allowed up on the furniture, get them a comfy, cushy bed of their own. A large floor cushion can often double as a luxurious dog bed.
“Use washable dog beds,” Hackman advises. “I like to try to have them match the home decor. Make one up that matches the sofas or sewing together a couple of towels or blankets that you can just toss in the washer.”
Most of us keep our pets integrated into our lives, but they’re hard on the furniture, say Maureen Keith and Lindsay Collins, of Collins & Keith Home Staging Ltd.
Just like you have to child-proof your surroundings, you have to pet-proof it, too, says Keith, a mother to two dogs, a cat and four kids. “You have to make sure they can’t get into anything dangerous, you’re their guardian.”
When designing or remodeling your living room, think about your flooring seriously. Wood can become charmingly distressed, and wood is one of the hottest trends for living rooms right now.
“One of the things that is on trend right now is the distresed floors,” Collins says. “And if you’re living with pets, the shinier the floor, the more the claw marks are going to show.”
A mid-range floor colour is most forgiving, she says.
Ceramic or cork tiles are also easy to keep clean with a vacuum and a mop, but they’re also kind to paws as well. Try using vinegar and water to clean your floors, because dogs tend to lick the floor, and can absorb chemicals through their paws.
And, if you can’t live without carpeting, choose it carefully, Collins says.
“If you’re choosing carpet, don’t get a continuous loop,” she says. “Choose a low nap, that is cut. Any kind of animal or kid, they’ll pull it and you’ll have a huge run in your carpet.”
And if you can’t stand slipcovers on your sofa, durability is key. Choose easy to wash off fabrics like leather, or indoor-outdoor fabrics like maror something with krypton in it. “Even for people with allergies, it’s nice to have fabrics that brush off, wash off, vacuum off.”
For those looking for eco-friendly and pet-friendly flooring materials, check out Marmoleum. The natural linoleum is made with natural ingredients, easy to clean, durable, hypo-allergenic and available in every style and colour range.
There is also crypton fabric for upholstering your furniture, which is non-porous and thus stain, moisture, mildew, bacteria and odor-resistant. This particular fabric is great for pet owners as it is easy to clean and durable.
“Mid-sized patterns are your friend, they hide things,” Collins says.
And there are easy ways to incorporate that litter box or pet crate into your living room, especially if it looks like a piece of furniture. Check out the TownHaus Wood Designer dog crate or a designer cat litter box, available at PetSmart.
“They look like a wooden coffee table, or a disguised cat litter box, they don’t look like what they really are. You don’t need to advertise to everyone that comes into your house that you’re a pet owner,” Collins says.
Though white furniture might be easy to wash, white walls aren’t as forgiving in a pet-friendly living room. They get grimy like bad wainscotting, Keith advises. A soft colour is much better.
How about indulging in a big living room trend — grass-cloth wallpapers. “Wallpaper that looks like grass,” Hackman says. “Your pet will think it has personal scratching wall.”
If that doesn’t work and you need a scratching post for Fluffy, try creating a selection of shelves in a laundry room, or hallway, and make a course for them.
They bark, they drool, they shed, they eat things, claw rip things, they’re impossible to live with. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.