Stylish decor and pets can co­ex­ist

Pets can en­joy style too by hav­ing their own room

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - MELISSA RAYWORTH

It’s got­ten eas­ier to have a house full of pets with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the home decor you want.

In­te­rior de­signer Vern Yip, a judge on HGTV’s “De­sign Star” and a dog per­son, says new tech­nol­ogy has led to a va­ri­ety of stylish AND pet-friendly home-fur­nish­ing op­tions.

“The fur­ni­ture and home-decor in­dus­try has re­ally rounded the cor­ner and come to re­al­ize that this is a way of life for a lot of peo­ple,” Yip says.

Durable, easy-to-clean paints, antimicrobial stain-re­sis­tant rugs and more mean that a beau­ti­ful home and a furry pet are no longer in­com­pat­i­ble.

Yip and two other in­te­rior-de­sign ex­perts — Betsy Burn­ham, founder of Los An­ge­les’ Burn­ham De­sign, and small­space ex­pert Kathryn Bechen — of­fer some tips:

Pet plan­ning

Many pet own­ers to­day “are de­sign­ing a space around their an­i­mals,” Burn­ham says. “Most of the time, I hear, ‘Oh, we’ve got dogs and a cou­ple of cats and three kids, so please be mind­ful that we can’t have any­thing too pre­cious.’ Then there are th­ese re­ally spe­cific re­quests, like, ‘I’d like a built-in dog bed in my is­land in my kitchen.’”

Often, the plan­ning starts with the big­gest el­e­ments: walls and floors. Paints have be­come much more pet-friendly (and kid-friendly) in re­cent years: “There are a lot of paint com­pa­nies now that have flat paints that are wi­peable,” a fea­ture pre­vi­ously of­fered only with glossy paints, Burn­ham says.

Floor­ing op­tions have also ex­panded: wood floor­ing com­pa­nies have de­vel­oped fin­ishes that re­sist scratch­ing, Yip says. Ce­ramic tile de­signed to look like stone floor­ing is an­other prac­ti­cal op­tion.

“It used to be, a few decades ago, that if you put down a ce­ramic-tile floor, it just looked like ce­ramic,” Yip says. This tile “looks like stone, but un­like stone it doesn’t ab­sorb urine or other things if your dog has an ac­ci­dent.”

And don’t for­get the lit­tle things: if your pets are very ac­tive, min­i­mize the num­ber of items on table­tops and put more frag­ile things on higher shelves, es­pe­cially in small rooms, Bechen says. Add a lid­ded bas­ket or stor­age ot­toman to stash pet toys when guests come over.

Fab­ric strate­gies

Fab­rics that can with­stand life with pets used to be rough and often un­ap­peal­ing to touch, Yip says. Now, you can find stain-re­sis­tant and antimicrobial fi­bres in a range of styles and soft tex­tures.

Burn­ham sug­gests look­ing for tex­tiles made with a fin­ish called Nan­otex, which makes the fi­bres stain-re­sis­tant and wa­ter­proof. If you have cats, it’s also help­ful to choose fab­rics that are smooth.

“We sort of em­brace leathers and flat­ter weaves so that the cat can’t get their claws into it,” Burn­ham says.

Leather is also a good choice be­cause it’s durable, and it can look even more at­trac­tive with a bit of time and wear. Bechen sug­gests avoid­ing very light-coloured fab­rics if dark pet hair will frus­trate you (or very dark fab­rics if your pets have light hair). Print pat­terns are less likely to show pet hair than solids are, she says. And it helps to keep an at­trac­tive throw blan­ket on your pet’s favourite fur­ni­ture, and then re­move it when guests come over.

“You’ll no­tice a lot more hair and clean­ing with an­i­mals in a small space,” Bechen says. “It’s all con­densed.”

Sep­a­rate space

It’s a lux­ury to have a room de­voted to pets, or to have a large enough mud room to cre­ate a sort of pet bed­room. But Yip says that’s be­com­ing more com­mon.

When guests who aren’t com­fort­able with an­i­mals come to visit, a ded­i­cated room gives pets “a space that’s theirs, that they can re­treat to that doesn’t feel like pun­ish­ment,” Yip says.

Even if the space does dou­ble-duty as an of­fice or laun­dry room, you can cre­ate a se­cure area for a pet by keep­ing their bed, food dishes and toys all in one place.

Get cre­ative by adding some­thing to en­ter­tain your pet (Yip’s dogs have an aquar­ium to look at), and cre­ate a sleep­ing space they’ll love.

“Cats love to climb,” says Bechen, so cat own­ers can add a shelf around the perime­ter of a laun­dry room or mud room and put their cat’s bed up there. It cre­ates a per­fect perch for the pet to feel safe.

Litter boxes can also be cre­atively up­graded: Bechen sug­gests choosing one with a dec­o­ra­tive cover. Her favourites are de­signed to re­sem­ble tiny, painted houses.


In­te­rior de­signer Vern Yip, with his dogs in his home in At­lanta.

Home­own­ers can cre­ate a pleas­ant space to put pets if a guest isn’t com­fort­able with an­i­mals.

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