No one reading this will be surprised to hear that according to CBS News, Americans spent more than $56 billion on pets in 2013. We obviously love our furry friends, and we realize that pets create costs that have nothing to do with vet expenses, boarding bills, feeding or grooming. I always tell my friends that there's nothing better than a new puppy or kitten, but you have to be prepared to compromise your favorite furniture, finish or accessory.
I work with lots of pet lovers and have learned that there are definitely some ways to minimize damage to your home and your relationships-with both the pets and the humans in the house.
Who's That Scratching at the Door?
Accidents aside, most scuffs and scratches to your furniture and floors happen when our buddies get bored. Access to outdoor space for playtime is your first line of defense in maintaining the home you've worked so hard to create and improve.
Pet doors that make indoor/outdoor access a snap is the obvious place to start. That doesn't mean you have to find a way to incorporate the plastic and rubber construction elements into your design scheme. Consider a fix as simple as adding wood facing over the jamb of the pet door and some molding around that to give it a finished look. If you've got any built-ins on an exterior wall, sacrifice a little cabinet space there to create an access point that doubles as sleep space, with the help of a cozy and stylish pet bed. Best of all, when guests arrive, close the door for a quick tidy-up.
Another kind of pet door that can really help you cut down on pet wear-and-tear are pet gates. Pet gates allow you to keep an eye on each other and still maintain some boundaries. We all know that with some of our more high-energy friends, having you on the other side of a regular door is nothing but an invitation to scratch their way back to you. The good news is that pet gates come in attractive and warm wood finishes (or metal alternatives) to match your style. These doors attach to the inside of the door jamb and allow you to walk through with a simple flip of the latch.
Pets Need Furniture, Too
One of the best ways to keep pets off of your furniture is to make sure that they have furniture of their own. As long as you enforce the rules and give them a comfortable place to retreat to, pets will happily retire to a nice cushy bed by the fire. It may take discipline and consistency at first, but probably not nearly as much as you imagine. If your furniture and design are important to you, be strong!
These days, there is no shortage of fabulous fabrics and great design in pet bedding. Whether your style is denim, leather or linen, you'll find pet beds that will actually contribute to the design of the room rather than detract from it. Most of all, consider functionality-a pet bed that can be used indoors or in the yard (like the outdoor bed pictured here) will give you added flexibility.
Now that you've given them the time they need outside, remember that they're going to track some of that back into the house. Where flooring is concerned, serious pet lovers should give strong consideration to tile, engineered hardwood and laminate flooring which are nearly impervious to normal day-to-day wear. Hard surfaces, in general, clean up much more easily-you can see what you need to clean, and when you do, you know the task is complete.
Strengthen and maintain those boundaries by creating spaces just for your pets with fun and stylish feeding stations in the kitchen. If you're willing to sacrifice a little more cabinet space, you can install a feeding station that slides in and out as a drawer, but with built-ins that are cut for food and water bowls. Pet food is certainly not a design-friendly element, and when bed time is near or guests are dropping by, the ability to slide that food and water right out of the way goes a long way toward resolving your desire to be both a pet and design-lover.
What are your tips for keeping your style and sanity when you live with pets?