During the loneliness and isolation that’s come with COVID-19 and quarantining, pets have become a renewed source of comfort, companionship and love. Pet adoptions have spiked in the past several months, with many people bringing furry friends into their homes and lives.
“But with a new pet comes potential interior design woes. If your new pooch chews everything in sight or your adorable kitty scratches up all your furniture, all the stress they helped alleviate might come flooding back,” says Alessandra Wood, VP of Style for Modsy, the online interior design service.
But don’t worry: there are tons of ways to pet-proof your home from an interior design perspective. You can still have furniture you love while having a pet you love. A pet does not mean compromising your decor and aesthetic.
Whether you’ve had a pet for years or are just starting to think about adopting, here are seven pet-friendly design tips from Modsy’s VP of Style (and her Chihuahua and Jack Russell mix).
Make the leap easier
For pets that have a hard time jumping as they age, you’ll want to invest in solutions that make hopping on the sofa and bed a bit easier. (If you allow your pets on the furniture, that is.) While pet stairs are always an option, they can be a bit of an eyesore. Instead, consider adding an ottoman next to your sofa or bed, which offers a lower surface to hop onto. Rugs can also give older dogs the traction they need to make the leap (and will help protect hardwood floors from scratches).
Create dedicated storage
Like kids’ toys, pet toys and accessories have a way of exploding all over the house. So, we love the idea of having a dedicated place to store all of your pet’s toys and accessories. Baskets are a great option, as the open-top means your pet can “self-serve” in retrieving their toys, but they can also integrate into the rest of your decor. Just consider the height of your basket in relation to the size of your pet, and make sure they can reach inside with ease. You could also add a basket in your entryway for your dog’s leash, harness, waste bags and any frisbees or balls you might want to bring to the dog park.
Use color to mask pet hair and stains
If leather isn’t your vibe, there are plenty of other upholstery options to consider when looking for pet-friendly furniture. People often think that dark fabrics and rugs are the key to hiding dirt and spills — but dark upholstery can end up highlighting certain stains. (Plus, a whole room of dark furniture will visually weigh down your space.) However, you’ll also want to steer clear of super light colors, unless they’re slipcovers that you can bleach. There would be nothing worse than a white or tan sofa, without washable cushions, covered in muddy paw prints. So, when thinking about the best couches for dogs, opt for performance fabrics that are easy to clean and, ideally, machine washable.
In terms of color, grays are a perfect option to keep the room feeling light without being a stain magnet. When it comes to rugs, instead of trying to mask potential accidents with dark colors, opt for a multi-color patterned rug. The pattern and mix of colors will help hide any stains that you can’t get out while adding life to your space. If you’re more concerned about pet hair than stains, you could also match your rug or sofa color to your pet’s fur color, so that hair is less visible.
If you’re worried about your pet causing your furniture to age prematurely, you can also cover it up. No, we’re not talking about a plastic cover a la the 70s or keeping a drop cloth over your furniture when not in use. Simply have a few machine washable throw blankets on hand that you can toss on your sofa or bed before your dog jumps onto the furniture. This way, most of their hair and oils will be contained to the blanket, which you can wash whenever it needs to be freshened up.
Consider leather upholstery
Naturally tanned leather is a great pet-friendly furniture upholstery option — and is especially great for those who love antiques and pieces that tell a story because of the way leather ages. However, this is not a good option for type-A personalities who want to keep everything in pristine condition. A leather sofa with pets will definitely experience some wear and tear. But, if you invest in a sofa made of high-quality leather, it will age beautifully and develop a beautiful patina. So, like a beautiful pair of vintage leather boots, the inevitable scratches and scuffs will only add to the beauty and personality of the piece, whether a sofa or accent chair. Bonus: Leather is also super easy to clean and vacuum, making banishing dog hair a breeze.
Minimize chewable furniture
Does your dog love to chew on anything in sight? Along with house-training your pooch, if you have a young puppy or an older dog that’s taking a while to adjust to their new environment, you may have to deal with a chewing stage. Help curb your pup’s desire to chew by opting for furniture with metal framing and legs, rather than furniture with wooden legs. (Because wooden furniture legs might look a little too much like a stick.)
Pet hair and dust bunnies can make even the most beautifully designed space feel dingy and dirty. When you have a pet, regular vacuuming is a must. Consider getting two vacuums: one heavier-duty one for large, weekly vacuuming, and a smaller handheld one for quick vacuuming throughout the week and for spot-cleaning furniture. Making vacuuming part of your routine will help keep your home feeling fresh and clean all the time.
For more pet-friendly home design tips and ideas, check out modsy.com/design-ideas/pet-friendly.