10 Dog-Friendly Decorating Tips
Senior design editor Margot Austin shares her decorating tips for living with dogs.
In case you are wondering why this piece isn’t more inclusive, I have zero experience living with cats or other pets, so I’m afraid I can’t help you there. But I have shared a few homes over the last 13 years with a feisty French bulldog and learned a bit about living in style with a furry friend along the way. Here are a bunch of my favorite products and tips for living stylishly with a shedding, accident-having, cuddly creature of the canine variety.
When you welcome a dog into your home and your life, you have to decide whether or not to let them up onto the furniture. This was a no-brainer for me. Cuddles are job number one for my dog. If you are like me then slipcovered furniture is your best bet. Whip off covers and launder as needed. Replace after several years. Washable slipcovers mean I can have this white sofa even though I have a black dog.
I’m also a big believer in covering the sofa with a stylish throw or textile. Keep the textile neutral or opt for a more decorative pattern, but skip cheap fleece and cutesy puppy prints. And be sure to choose a textile that is machine washable. I love this fabulous take on the sofa throw I spotted at this year’s Kips Bay Designer Showhouse in New York in a room designed by Alessandra Branca. Rumor has it this gorgeous textile draped over a sofa was hiding a stain on the upholstery. Nice move!
At home I opt for matelassé throws. You can see one here in this shot of my dog, Lulu, on our sofa. I have a couple in different colors and rotate them to change up the look while doing the laundry. I make sure to tuck them in neatly. And if you feel you need even more protection from pet messes, stitch a waterproof mattress protector to the underside of the throw. When guests come over, pull away the throw for a sleeker look. Plus, I don’t want guests to feel like they are sitting on a dog blanket (which they actually would be!).
Check out the throws at Pine Cone Hill. They come in many great colors.
If you have a tiny or senior dog or one with reduced mobility, bring in a small footstool. These are great to make it easier for dogs get up onto and off of furniture safely on their own. Look for one that is 10 to 12 inches high and select a style that works with your furniture. Sure, there are dedicated doggy stairs out there on the market, but most are either kitschy or over the top and don’t blend well with other furnishings.
Keep an eye out at vintage shops (my favorite sources) and you may find a gem like this Stickley leather stool.
This pretty petite piece from Ballard designs is available in many fabrics.
This mod version from Hay Denmark has a sleek minimalist profile.
Every pup should have his or her own bed and be trained from puppyhood to treat this as their comfy safe zone. Tuck one away in a corner or nook — dogs like the den-like feeling of enclosed spaces. Opt for a solid fabric cover with contrast piping or a monochromatic stripe for a sophisticated look. Make sure that the cover is removable and that both the cover and filler are machine washable and dryable.
Does your dog require a few bottles of potions? Mine does. She’s a senior so that means regular use of nose butter, eye drops, ear and eye rinse. Since we use these items daily I like to keep them at hand, but they aren’t great to look at. If you have a drawer to stash them in, great! Do that. But I use this clever concealing trick instead — a beautiful Stelton vase (designed by Prince Carl Philip of Sweden by the way!) right on my entry console. It’s deep enough to keep everything under cover but still easy to access.
Choose a patterned washable carpet. My favorites are in the Bunny Williams collection for Dash & Albert. Bunny Williams is not only a design legend but also long-time great dog-lover so she knows what she’s doing when she designs pet-friendly products.