You don't need to know that Americans spend an average of $50 billion dollars a year on their pets to know how much we love our furry little friends. As a designer, it's often occurred to me that we could spend that money much more effectively around our homes. Good design is about living well, and all that fur, dander and dirt makes housekeeping a much bigger chore than it needs to be.
If you're willing to reconsider how you spend your share of that $50 billion, you and your pets can be a lot happier.
Whether you're building, remodeling, or just looking for some pet-friendly upgrades, think in terms of prevention and maintenance. More and more of our clients are seeing the benefits of pet washing stations as a way to keep the dirt and dander down. There are plenty of design elements that make maintaining a cleaner home much simpler.
Flooring and fabric: Work from bottom to top in your home to find opportunities for more pet-friendly design elements. Hardwood, laminate and tile flooring are much easier to keep clean-no carpet fiber to collect fur and dander residue year after year. The same theory goes for your furniture-leather will serve you better than fabric where fur and dander are concerned.
Also, consider micro-suede or one of the many highly stain resistant fabrics, known as "performance fabrics". Consider the same for window coverings. Interior shutters and Roman shades are much easier to keep clean than draperies, not only because of the material they're made of, but because they're not accessible to pets in the first place.
Pet space and human space: Designating specific pet areas in your home is a great way to at least contain the dirt. Mud rooms and laundry rooms are obvious choices for storing supplies. They create one entry and exit point for pets and for feeding and washing stations (more about that in a minute).
Finally, invest in a few of the many stylish pet bed options to match your decor-one for each room you share with pets. This makes everyone in the room more comfortable. They're washable, and easily hidden when guests drop by.
Washing station: There's really only one way to decrease the fur and dander being left behind everywhere our pets go: regular grooming. At an average cost of $50 per animal, most of us have a hard time justifying more than one visit per month. Grooming 2-3 times per month significantly reduces fur and dander, so adding a pet washing station to your home is a solid investment that will pay for itself over time. Remember, grooming two pets once a month is about $1,200 per year.
Here are the basic elements you need to consider to get your groom on:
- Location: Laundry rooms and mudrooms are ideal. Your laundry room is already plumbed, so adding a large standing sink for smaller pets is relatively simple. For larger dogs, a lower, walk-in style shower is more effective. This one requires a little DIY experience or professional help, but when you weigh the costs, you may be surprised what a good investment it could be.
- Faucets and shower heads: In a standing sink, install an industrial restaurant-style, pull-down sink faucet for the most effective and pleasant experience. For the walk-in version, use a handheld shower head that extends all the way to the floor. Drains should be a little larger than normal to accommodate all that fur-three inches should do the trick.
- Accessories: The good news here is that all your human bathroom accessories work just as well in this context. A simple shower caddy does the trick for shampoos, conditioners and detanglers. Towel rods are crucial in the process. You want those towels handy so you can keep yourself and the rest of the room dry before the "great shake" begins. They're also a great place to hang collars as you wash.
I've learned over the years that the by-products of living with pets can be a struggle for my pet-loving clients over time. To a certain degree, that's just part of the price we willingly pay for all that furry love. But you can make a real difference with a little planning and investment that benefits everyone involved-furry or not!
Let us know what some of your tricks are for living more harmoniously with your pets!