If you own a pet, you’ve likely altered the living space you share to better accommodate them.
This busy intersection of pet and home ownership triggered a bit of residential research by National Association of Realtors, which found more than 60 percent of homeowners surveyed either own or plan to own a pet, and 52 percent of home-and-pet owners have tackled a pet-friendly home project.
Top projects? NAR’s “2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact” report determined adding a fenced yard (23 percent), a pet door (12 percent) and laminate flooring (10 percent) led the list. Other common projects, such as a cat litter closet, animal pool, built-in dish stand, nook for bedding/crate or a pet-washing station, each weighed in at 3 percent or less.
Pet-owning home shoppers, meanwhile, ranked animal-centric amenities a bit differently, with having a pet-washing station higher (19 percent) than a pet door (11 percent). Laminate flooring was also a high priority, at 66 percent, second only to a fenced yard (91 percent).
And what of interiors? Local interior specialists asked about designing with pets in mind say don’t forget the finishes, fabrics and furnishings. Our pets often have run of the house. And it looks like it!
Pet-loving clients aren’t always aware of the need to select from options that hold up better against the tooth and nail and hair — and other animal behaviors, notes Kathy Anderson, Eklektik Interiors’ owner and principal designer. “Design can help mitigate some of it.”
When Anderson begins a pet-friendly project, she likes to know “how clients’ pets behave vs. how clients want them to behave.”
If, for example, the dog likes to lounge on the sofa’s pillow back, replace it with a tight-back sofa, she says. Just make sure to provide an alternative spot. Similarly, give pets a way to look out the window – without jumping onto the chair — such as a well-placed and padded bench or ottoman.
When making décor selections, know that even if your pet doesn’t shed (much) or mark territory, if a neighbor’s pet is visiting, there’s a potential source of accidents, she says.
Flooring raises a few challenges and choices, such as porcelain tile and LVT (luxury vinyl tile). Yes, hardwoods can be refinished, but the process is messy, time consuming and expensive. For the look without the maintenance, use a substitute, she says.
Meanwhile, hardwood stain choice makes a difference, notes Shannon B. Thompson of Shannon B. Thompson Interiors, who is also a Realtor. Darker colors show more pet hair than medium tones. And high gloss gets dinged quickly by pet nails, even when they’re clipped.
Rugs are another solution for saving the floors, but it’s best to choose less expensive ones that can be laundered or replaced. And in all cases, get it treated before installing it, Anderson says.
In fabric selections, avoid weaves with a loop, particularly if your pet is feline and even when there’s an official scratching post, she says. A loop is just too tempting (and satisfying) to snag and possibly run.
Also, just because tweed is a sturdy fabric doesn’t make it a good choice for pet homes; fur will work itself into every woven cranny. You’ll end up with a hairy sofa or chair, she says.
While selecting fabric in the same color as your pets’ fur might seem to be a good way to minimize the appearance of shedding, it does nothing about eliminating it, she says. Your white sofa hides the white fur, but what if a guest is wearing dark slacks?
Slipcovers can protect upholstered pieces, but are expensive and not always easy to launder. Instead, use a washable pet throw. (It’s more stylish than a layer of protective vinyl like grandma used to protect cherished furniture in the parlor for “company.”)
Window treatments — granted the trend is minimalist today — do best if there’s no “puddling” to play in, she says. And again, animals like having a view.
All wall paints are not alike when it comes to touching up spots that pets use for a good back rub, Thompson says. While the paint trend is flat finish, a slight sheen (as in eggshell) cleans up more easily.
Do it well or don’t do it at all
Pet amenities — other than a yard — don’t really drive home sales, observes Thompson, in Realtor mode. Be mindful of that when thinking about renovations that overly favor your furry family members, she says.
And it’s very important that any such projects be done extremely well.
“A pet element that’s not well executed can detract from the value of the home at resale,” she says.
That said, Thompson’s list of best investments to make in keeping the house pet-friendly — but human-ready — are scented candles, a good hair removal roller and an animal-grade vacuum cleaner.