5 ways to make your living space more animal-friendly

If there’s one thing Kari Whitman knows for sure, it’s that it’s entirely possible to create a home that’s both beautiful and Pet Friendly. She has proven this repeatedly over the past 23 years as the owner of the design agency Kari Whitman Interiors and of the ace of hearts rescue the dog.

Although Whitman is a high-end designer, she believes it is important to create spaces for the whole family, including pets. We picked her brains on some of the simple tricks people can use to optimize their living space for all the wear and tear that comes with raising pets. Here’s what she had to say.

Be careful with fabrics

Dogs and cats are attracted to soft, cozy places – that’s why they are often attracted to your bed or couch. While it’s cute to see them curled up like a croissant on your favorite chair, the fur and drool they leave behind is significantly less cute.

For upholstery, Whitman says she likes to use faux leather and ultrasuede. “Not only do you reduce your carbon footprint by using vegan products, but the materials are also easy to clean and scratch-resistant.”

If you already have a sofa that you love, another option is to use a machine-washable faux fur throw (like this one from Leg and visible) to maintain coziness, but limit the transfer of real animal fur.

“You can move it to your bed at night if you choose or put it on one side of your couch,” Whitman says. “Hair doesn’t stick to it, you can shake it out if needed and it looks classy.”

Another trick? Choose an upholstery that is a similar color to your pet. It’s harder to tell if there’s brown fur on a brown couch. Likewise, patterns and tweeds are less likely to show signs of shedding if your pet is multicolored.

Use wipeable wallpaper and paint finishes

If you’ve ever wondered how all those stains got on your walls, think about how often your dog shakes off after coming in from the rain or how many times his excited tail bangs against the wall. To help mitigate the problem, Whitman suggests selecting: wallpaper and paint finishes that are not delicate.

“Most wallpapers come in a commercial option, which can be easily wiped off,” explains Whitman. “I also like to use high gloss paint for my clients – it’s so easy to clean!”

Choose a wooden or tile floor

Damage to carpets is often one of the top reasons landlords cite for charging a pet deposit. The fibers are difficult to clean, often not durable enough to withstand animal claws, and are prone to absorbing funky pet odors. If you’re looking for something that will last, tile and hardwood may be a better choice.

For tile, consider porcelain or ceramic, as these are the easiest to clean (and provide a cool place for your four-legged companion to take a nap during warm weather). Look for a large flat tile, because the grout between tiles can make clearing difficult. In front of hardwood, Whitman suggests beech, bamboo and recycled teak because they are more resistant to scratches.

“If you have a large dog and are concerned about scratching your wood floors, I highly recommend a wood finish called GlitsaWhitman says. “I have a 200lb dog. I stained my wood floors black and haven’t had a scratch in five years.”

If you choose to use rugs (not a bad idea, especially with older pets who are prone to slipping), choose one that can be washed in the machine, such as those from Robust, or one that is for indoor and outdoor use.

Use storage to your advantage

Tennis balls, squeaky and rattling toys, and half-chewed dog bones don’t do much to improve the overall look of your living room. Whitman suggests using a large basket or vintage crate to store your pet’s favorites and keep your home tidy.

It is also important to use storage or high shelves to keep hazards away from your pets, including food and… houseplants that are poisonous to them. If your pet is noisy and adept at opening cabinets or doors, be sure to invest in security locks.

Choose cleaning agents carefully

If you have a pet, chances are you’ll need to clean more often than someone who doesn’t. When tackling the cleaning to-do list, it’s important not to overlook what’s in the products you’re using, Whitman says. Since dogs and cats spend their days roaming around the house grooming themselves with their tongues, avoid using chemical cleaners that would be harmful if ingested.

“No Pine-Sol, no Swiffers, please,” Whitman says. Instead, she suggests: Mrs. Meyers and Indigo Wild, two pet-friendly cleaners that fall in the sweet spot to be made with natural ingredients and really get the job done.

Originally published on Architectural Summary