7 home design tips for style-loving dog owners

[Also applies to those of you with cats, rats, chinchillas and any other hairy critters.]

Have a dog (or other pet)? Love interior design? Think the two don’t mix well? Think again! Here are my home design tips for style-savvy pet owners looking to make their home beautiful and keep their pet happy.

This blog post is also available as a video over on YouTube: https://youtu.be/iihmxBzS8h8

I have a dog. I love my dog. I also love interior design. And sometimes these two facts can seem a little incompatible.

 

If you’re a pet owner and you’re wondering how to create a lovely-looking home that works for you and your pet, read on…

 

The ultimate solution = have a well-trained pet

Trust me, we had the best of intentions. When we adopted our awesome dog, Diesel, he wasn’t going on the couches. We’d train him not to steal from the countertops. There would never be any “incidents” in the house. And he certainly wouldn’t be allowed upstairs. 

If you have achieved this level of pet training, then I salute you! No need to read on!

(Or you could read on - because curiosity, and certainly not your well-trained dog, killed the cat…)

 This is our never-going-on-the-sofa dog, Diesel...

This is our never-going-on-the-sofa dog, Diesel...

We certainly haven’t achieved the dog training goals we aimed for at the start. If you haven’t either, then I hope the following tips might help.

 

1) Lower your expectations.

No, seriously. Should I be saying this as an interior designer? Probably not. But if you’re dreaming of a white, chic, minimalist home and you want to share it with your dog, I implore you to think again. You’re only setting yourself up for dashed dreams and disappointment (or a very unhappy dog).

 If this is what your dream home looks like, it's not going to look so great scattered with tug toys and Kongs, is it? Unless you're a domestic god/ess - in which case, go for it!   

If this is what your dream home looks like, it's not going to look so great scattered with tug toys and Kongs, is it? Unless you're a domestic god/ess - in which case, go for it!

 

2) Buy furniture and soft accessories that colour-coordinate with your pet.

I don’t mean you have to match it exactly, but if you have a white dog / cat / chinchilla / [insert pet type here] then black and dark sofas are going to require a lot of cleaning and upkeep.

Try pattern furniture that won’t show their fur quite as much in between cleans. Tartans, florals, geometrics, stripes – all of these will be more forgiving than a plain fabric.

Example: My dog has black fur and so we do not own any white sofas.

A note on leather couches. The jury’s out. Easier to clean. But easier to damage. Diesel loved to “nest” in our old leather sofa, leaving scratch marks in each corner. No amount of throws or blankets could stop him. Think about how your pet behaves, and make design decisions accordingly.

 

 Throws are your best friend!

Throws are your best friend!

3) Consider getting sofas with removable covers (throws are also your best friend).

Then, when your dog drools all over your sofa, you can just chuck them into the washing machine. Ta da! It’s like it never happened.

 

4) Instigate a health home cleaning regime.

I’m not talking about pristine, 100% germ free living here. Just a decent level of cleaning to keep your shared home healthy and pleasant to live in. Wash linens, cushion covers, throws and blankets on a regular basis. Your home will be nicer for you, and the eau-de-dog smell won't make visitors to your home wonder if you’ve turned into the crazy dog lady / gent.

 

5) Make it pet-safe.

Identify any potential risks that could harm your pet, and plan your home accordingly. For dog owners, especially Labrador owners (like us), make sure all those foods that they shouldn’t eat, such as raisins, chocolate, onions, garlic etc., are kept out of their reach. Ideally in wall cupboards, drawers, pantries or a room they can’t get into when you’re out.

 

6) Store / display valuables where they can’t be damaged.

For dog owners, this might mean keeping ornaments, vases and so on above tail-wagging height. For athletic cat owners (the cat being athletic, not necessary the owner…), you might want to keep easily-knocked-over valuables in a glass-fronted cabinet or on shelves that your cat can’t jump onto.

 

7) Think of things from your pet’s perspective - make your home pet-friendly!  

Carefully consider your flooring choices for example, and make sure they have somewhere safe and secure to sleep (there are some stylish ways to make dog crates look amazing – just do a search on Pinterest!).

In a previous home, we had laminate flooring throughout the hallway, dining room and kitchen. When we were dog-sitting a beautiful, elderly dog for a family member, we soon realised just how pet unfriendly laminate flooring can be. The poor pooch was skittering all over the place and clearly hated walking on the floor. We ended up putting a bunch of rugs down for her, which didn’t look great. If she’d been our own dog, we wouldn’t have chosen laminate flooring in the first place. Carpet or even engineered timber would have been better.

 Thought I'd end with a super-cute picture of Diesel dog. Because, why not?!

Thought I'd end with a super-cute picture of Diesel dog. Because, why not?!

Do you have a pet? Have you had to make any compromises in terms of your home décor and design? Or have you come up with any ingenious solutions to keep your home stylish and pet-friendly? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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 OK, one more. (Obsessed dog-mother here.) Here's Diesel being top Dog Assistant in his office attire.

OK, one more. (Obsessed dog-mother here.) Here's Diesel being top Dog Assistant in his office attire.