Here's a great article that I thought I would pass on...hope you find it interesting! –Kim
Your Home can be Beautiful and Pet-friendly with these Pointers from Design Experts
By Leanne Potts
A lot of stylish people are letting their houses go to the dogs and the cats and the birds – without sacrificing style or comfort. Instead of banishing their furry friends to the yard, many pet owners are decorating and remodeling their living spaces with their pets' needs in mind, turning pet-friendly decorating into a full-blown trend.
"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.
"The key is choosing the right materials and accommodating your animals' needs." Julia, who shares her digs with a dozen rescued dogs and cats, says 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."
Pet hair has an odor, and it contains an oil that will attract dirt to the fabric on which it sits. She suggests you invest in a Dyson DC14 Animal, an upright vacuum named for its miraculous ability to suck up animal hair. It costs around $550, but Julia says you'll wonder how you ever lived without it when you see the horrifying amounts of dirt and hair the Dyson picks up from your floors and furniture.
William Wegman, the artist known for his Weimaraner photos, has designed a line of Crypton fabrics aimed at pet-obsessed style mavens that includes sturdy suedes and twills with names like Polka Dog and Material Dog. It's available in upholstery shops, from many furniture manufacturers and interior designers; you can find it online at cryptonfabric.com.
Leather is a good choice, easy to clean and durable. Most grades of leather will suffer only scratches from Fido or Fluffy's claws, but hey, the scratches add patina. If you see a sad irony in buying a sofa made from an animal for your animal, try pleather. It's cruelty-free, relatively inexpensive and has a timeless appeal.
Then there's Ultrasuede, a machine-washable microfiber that feels as smooth and seductive as real suede. "I can't say enough good things about Ultrasuede," Julia Szabo says. She has covered her 1950s Heywood-Wakefield sofa and chairs in Ultrasuede and even had a couple of pet beds made of it. "It's beautiful, and it always stays cool and comfortable no matter the climate. That's important for your and your animal's comfort." Velvet is a definite no-no for a home with pets. Ultrasuede is a stylish and easy-to-maintain alternative.
If you must have carpet, she says, choose a low pile. "It's easier to clean if there's an accident." And avoid continuous loop carpet because a pet toenail can unravel it by catching a single woven loop.
The best floor is ceramic tile, because it's easy to clean and resistant to any stain an animal can dish out. Tile is toenail-proof, it makes a room look sleek and elegant, and it gives furry animals a cool place to nap during hot weather. Porous materials like marble or other natural stones aren't as pet-proof as other hard surfaces, since acids present in pet spit-up can stain them, even if they're sealed, designer Nan Ruvel says.
Julia Szabo tells of a New York artist who painted a room in his Manhattan digs a brilliant shade of green inspired by his Amazon parrot. "It reminds the parrot of his ancestral home in the jungle. The wall is gorgeous, and it makes the bird much happier," she says. Painting walls white is a bad idea aesthetically and practically, she says. "Let's face it; a white wall goes gray in a minute around dogs." This forces you to be more creative and daring when choosing colors, Julia says. "Pets present you with the opportunity to really work with color."
It's important to give your dog something to chew on, or he might go after a chair leg. Julia suggests rubber toys like the Kong or the Super-Tuff Rhino. For cats, Szabo recommends Everyday Studio's Cat Tree, a scratching post/climbing tree combo that hangs on the wall. It's a chic, geometrically shaped concoction of colored metal and cardboard that offers a stylish alternative to homely, carpet-covered scratching posts and plywood climbing trees. "It's like a work of art for your pet; it's beautiful and it's functional," she says. Another option that will allow your cat to get out his inner panther, stylishly: shelves for him to perch on. Julia sells "Tiger Branches," a set of wooden demilune shelves that attach to the wall.
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