Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Design for Dogs

The article below is a Q&A I recently wrote for the Denver Post. As my blog readers you get to read the article with many more photo examples. Enjoy!

I am a dog lover, but I also want my house to look nice. How do I select furniture that will be beautiful and work with my pets?

A truly good design must consider the needs of all family members, including our pets. Unfortunately, there are no concrete rules when it comes to designing for dogs. Before starting a design plan, look at the quirks and characteristics specific to your dog. Is he a chewer? Does she dig or scratch furniture? Is she crazy about ball playing? Is she allowed on the furniture? And, of course, how much does he shed?

Considerations for Furniture Base and Legs
If your dog has a love of balls, the top preventative measure is to stop the balls from rolling under the furniture. A ball under furniture results in dogs scratching or chewing at the legs and base of furniture to get at the ball. To avoid this, look for furniture with very short or no legs where the base is close enough to the ground that a ball will not go under. On the flip side, you could seek furniture that has a high clearance underneath, allowing a ball to roll through or allowing your dog to reach it without scratching or biting at the furniture base or legs.
Another concern for wood furniture is the color of the stain or paint finish. The darker the wood stain or paint, the more scratches will be visible. If your dog is prone to scratching or chewing, it’s best to stick with light stain or paint, or metal legs.

Considerations for Upholstery
Leather is a great option for homes with pets. It acts as a barrier that will not absorb odors, hair, or pet dander, making for easy cleaning. However, leather does not do well with pet “accidents” and is not a good choice if your dog digs, scratches, or attempts to retrieve balls under furniture. Leather will stain and scratch and can be difficult and costly to repair.
Microfibers, such as Ultrasuede, are an excellent choice for most pets. Ultrasuede has a non-woven structure that resists scratching, pulling and fraying and hairs will not get caught in the weave. It is also easily washable and resists stains and discoloration.
Other fabrics are typically woven and are still an option with many pets. However, hair can get caught in the weave of the fabric, requiring more work to vacuum or pull them out. Loosely woven fabric combined with a heavy shedding pet is not the greatest option to keep your furniture looking its best.
I always advise adding a stain protector to your upholstery, with or without pets in the home.

The room featured in the photo was designed with a yellow lab in mind. The leather sofa resists hair and is low to the ground. The other furniture pieces all provide enough clearance for a tennis ball to roll through or be retrieved without damage.

A determined pet will not be stopped, but by using the best preventative measures your pets and your furniture can live in harmony.

And for the blog, here are several furniture examples that wold work well with the ball issue as described above. All pieces are from Century Furniture.

Pieces that provide enough clearance for a ball to be easily retrieved.

The Colson Chair

Century Signature Sofa

The Vernon chair has the added benefit of metal legs and leather upholstery.
And on the other end of the spectrum, we have pieces that prevent the ball from rolling under.

Salvador Chair

Lassen Sofa

Do you have design questions? Send them in and I'll be happy to answer here and/or on the Denver Post.


Anonymous said...

I'd love to know how to keep my cat from using my couch as a scratching post.

Beautiful Habitat said...

Hi Kim.Thank you for stopping by! Unfortunately my expertise is with dogs, but I'll certainly ask around for some advice on scratching kitties. Here is a run down of cool pet products that include the best scratching posts I've seen. http://beautifulhabitat.blogspot.com/2009/11/for-love-of-our-pets.html Good luck


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