When decorating goes to the dogs


Happy DogTypically, it takes only one ring of the doorbell to realize that a new client has a dog.

These prepackaged bundles of energy, unconditional love and unadulterated dirt are a mixed blessing when they live under the same roof as my clients. I am, however, a believer that you can live happily ever after with a pet – and have a lovely home, too.

Knowing how the pooch lives in the home is fundamental. If the corner of the sofa is “his spot,” your designer needs to know. Preparing for the canine assault on furnishings goes far beyond a spray coat of stain repellant. Often, these applications are temporary and set Fluffy up for banishment to the floor.

I often recommend indoor/outdoor textiles for upholstered furnishings in a pet-friendly home. They are sturdy enough to manage the rigors of muddy paws, slobber and any other puppy matter that is left behind.

Tight weaves provide another defense. Before committing to a fabric, do your own version of a textile stress test. Scratch, poke and dig with a fingernail at a candidate fabric. If a fabric can withstand this endurance test, it is probable that it can stand up to the worst that Rocky can dish out.

Silk and loose weave textiles are off limits unless your pup is trained to stay off the furniture and always does as he is told! Leather is an exceptional choice and works beautifully if fur and dirt are the main concerns. Although it will scratch, leather is easy to clean and disinfect with a mild detergent.

Regardless of material, pattern is a great disguise in the world of pet-friendly upholstery fabrics. If pet hair is an issue, select a fabric color that is close to the shade of Fuffy’s highlights.


Flooring is the next element to consider. Wood and ceramic tiles are my first line of defense when pets are in the home. Regular cleaning and vacuuming takes care of nearly all the requirements. Of course, wood floors scratch but a few scratches can provide a warm, stately look in a room. Also, scratches are eliminated when wood is eventually refinished.

Wool area rugs are excellent choices for their ability to hide dirt, repel moisture and handle the ongoing abuse of muddy paws. A pattern provides an additional layer of defense by concealing a multitude of doggy sins.

For wall to wall carpet, a dense, cut pile rather than a loop carpet is best if Buddy has long nails.

Keep these suggestions in mind when making design decisions, and your best friend will be out of the doghouse and sound asleep on his favorite chair!


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