Aug 25, 2011

Letting your home go to the dogs...and cats.

Without sacrificing style or comfort and banishing your pet to the yard, you can decorate your home or apartment to suit both you and your pet.  Here are some tips for selecting the right materials and living with your hairy friends. Keep in mind that there is no substitute for good exercise, which keeps pets - dogs especially - from using your home as a chew toy!
1. Vacuum regularly. Pet hair has an odor and contains oils that attract dirt to them. It is wise to vacuum weekly to remove that hair and its associated dander and odor.  There are many vacuums that have pet hair specific attachments and suction. Eureka and Dyson both make good products so check their ratings and cost. I keep a dust buster near my litter boxes, which makes it easy to clean. 

2. Bathe and groom your pet often.  This WILL help your house stay cleaner, longer. It's easier to clean your pet than your upholstery, and it's usually more fun. Trimmed nails won't scratch floors or snag upholstery. Regular brushing removes hair before it ends up on your floor, your bed, your throw pillows, your get the picture. 

3. Use stain-resistant fabrics.  There are some gorgeous patterns and colors in fabrics like Crypton and Ultrasuede. They're ideal for pets and are chic and comfortable for you.  Consider Sunbrella or other sun-resistant fabrics, since they are durable and easy to clean. Check out their softness, range of patterns, and array of color. Leather is a good choice if you don't mind scratches...they add character and patina. I use washable throws on furniture the dogs love and where I want to use silk.  Cotton napkins are great for covering a dining or kitchen chair - color and style is decor dependent - and you only need to remove them for washing since they look great all the time. Using a cat bed on YOUR bed is helpful and most cats and small dogs love to curl up inside.

4. Put washable fabrics on your bed.   Protect your mattress from the inevitable by covering it with a thick pad. Use cotton or bamboo sheets, preferably in a color or a pattern that can hide pet hair or stains between washings. Duvet covers work well because you can take them off and wash them regularly. Delicate-looking matelasse coverlets are surprisingly durable; their tight quilting resists pet toenail snags and repeated washings.

5. Skip wall-to-wall carpet.   Carpet absorbs odors, traps pet hair and soaks up pet-related stains. Use area rugs instead.  Low pile carpet is best if you must have it since it's easier to clean.  Some of the new carpets by Mohawk are tested in zoos, so check out the patterns and colors available.
6. Choose hard surface floors.  Bare floors are the best option, but doesn't have to be boring. Painted wood and concrete can be ideal for modern and casual styles. Hardwood floors are easy to mop or vacuum but can be scratched buy claws. Porcelain tile is an ideal material, because it's easy to clean and resistant to any stain an animal can dish out. If you love stone - which is porous materials and not pet-proof - there are some gorgeous stone-like porcelains. The newest porcelain "wood" is stunning and durable.

7. Set up an animal-friendly entry.  Let's face it. Dogs need to go out rain or shine. Coming in wet is tough on your home.  Have an area that you can easily swipe clean as needed. I use a kitchen mat that seems to keep the water on, wipe their feet a bit, and is easy to mop. Using an easy-clean surface near the entry will help you and your family as well.  Keep a bin or basket nearby for paw-cleaning towels, and all of your walking paraphernalia

8. Use the right products. Dogs love rawhide and pig's ears but they're as bad for your pet as they are for your home.  Many toy products made in China are inexpensive, but the composition is toxic.  Try rubber Kong products and Healthy Edibles for dog chewing. For cats, be sure to have a scratching post so your furniture doesn't suffer. For cat litter, try corn, pine or pine pellets rather than clay. It DOES keep odor at bay, and is better for your cat and the environment. 

9. Match colors to your pet's fur. Your pet can be a source of inspiration when choosing colors for fabrics, flooring and even walls. If you have a black dog, don't install a white marble floor unless you want to clean often. Use a honey colored throw on your bed if you have a golden cat, opt for a rich brown Ultrasuede on your new sectional when you have a chocolate lab. You get the idea.