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Home design goes to the dog(s)

August 8, 2013
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edmund-decor 009“Hubby and I both HATE pet hair and odor on our clothes or furniture. We are not of the “no outfit is complete without pet hair” camp. We had a firm “no indoor pets” agreement before we got married. A few years in, Hubby begged (I probably shouldn’t use a “like a cute dog” simile here) to break the “no indoor pets” agreement. I finally agreed but insisted on a firm “no dogs on the living room couch” agreement. As I write this, there is a four-legged being stretched out on the living room couch like he owns the place.

Yes, we have let our house go to the dog(s). And we have sacrificed a bit of style and air quality. Unlike his predecessor, who was more or less banished to the garage and yard (and her rug in the den in her later years), Edmund is… horrors… definitely a house dog. Let him out on a lovely summer day, and he soon whines at the door to come back in, bringing a bit of the outdoors with him.

“You can have a beautiful house and a pet, too,” says Julia Szabo, pet columnist for the New York Post and author of Animal House Style: Designing A Home To Share With Your Pets (www.animalstylehouse.com). Obviously she is trying to sell her book. She has not seen the ugly end table in our (human) den, which has teeth marks on its legs (from Son when he was a puppy), which cannot be replaced because it provides a perfect den for a certain occupant.

“The key is choosing the right materials and accommodating your animals’ needs,” says Julia, who shares her abode with a dozen rescued dogs and cats. She claims an animal-friendly house is more comfortable for humans, too. “If a house doesn’t work with dogs, it won’t work with children or guests, either,” she insists doggedly. Oh? I haven’t had too many children or guests who want to belly crawl daily under the furniture, although the kids do like to climb Edmund’s staircase to his bay window command center.

Julia recommends that, in addition to matching your décor to your pet’s fur color, you buy a $550 vacuum that sucks up a horrifying amount of dirt and hair. She recommends that you bathe and groom your pet often. It is more fun to clean your dog than your upholstery, she notes cheerily. She suggests stain-resistant fabrics. She doesn’t mention what kind of upholstery to use if your dog likes to wallow in eau de dead bird and then streak inside before you catch him.  Some guy in cahoots with Julia has designed suedes and twills with names like Polka Dog and Material Dog.  Julia suggests leather or for the animal rights sympathizers, pleather. The scratches? Call it patina, she says. Oh, please.

“Cats barf a lot,” Julia says. “Deal with it.” I love this quote and plan to say something this quotable myself someday. She says to protect your mattress and use washable bed stuff. Well, thanks, but we’ll pass on the cats. Allergies. But we use washable bed stuff for the humans, which helps when Dog sneaks or otherwise ends up in the bedroom, which did I mention was also off-limits in that contract?

Chicago interior designer Nan Ruvel, who has cats, says to skip wall-to-wall carpet if you have a pet. “It’s a bad idea.” I love this quote and plan to use it someday. I have carpet in my downstairs. Dog wasn’t as potty trained as the breeder thought. Enough said?

Pigs ears and rawhide bones in the house are not a good idea, the pros say. Well. They suggest giving your pet tidy, attractive treats and toys—ones that match your décor, I suppose. Edmund looks in disdain at all toys, even Kongs. He prefers more challenging chews. Like the bird he put behind the chair. Or dolls. When the great nieces were here playing dolls, he raced past and grabbed a Ken, who is now in long-term rehab.

There are now chic, pricey, geometrically shaped scratching posts/hiding places. Edmund recommends a chic recliner for scratchers, even though we know designers dislike recliners. He likes to hide under the end table, expressing his inner wolf, and in a storm, under Jeff’s desk, with all the comforting computer cords.

Julia says there’s a New York artist who painted a room brilliant green, which reminded his parrot of his ancestral home in the jungle and made the bird much happier. There are days when a pet-free environment, which reminds me of my ancestral home, would make me much happier.

“Pets present you with the opportunity to really work with color,” she says. Cairn terriers don’t shed, so we won’t be redecorating in black and silver. (I feel sorry for the German shepherd brown crowd.) But before long, we may have to replace that cream bedspread, which was draped over the living room couch because cushion-tilting was not a dog deterrent, with something better suited to a garden-digging, tomato-sampling kind of guy. Anybody have a garden-themed throw?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 9, 2013 2:18 pm

    Thanks for reminding me why I don’t have a dog…

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