Hardwood floors are simple to mop or vacuum and add a warm glow to a room, but keep in mind that large dogs can scratch wood. The best floor is ceramic tile, because it's easy to clean and resistant to any stain an animal can dish out. Tile is toenail-proof, it makes a room look sleek and elegant and it gives furry animals a cool place to nap during hot weather. Porous materials like marble or other natural stones aren't as pet-proof as other hard surfaces, since acids present in pet spit-up can stain them, even if they're sealed.
Your pet can be a source of inspiration when choosing colors for your room. Paint a concrete floor the same shade of gray as your cat. Cover your sofa in a honey micro fiber that matches your golden retriever dog. This isn't just an aesthetic shout-out to your dog or cat; it's also a practical choice because the hair they leave behind won't be as visible.
Even if you match your chaise to your Siamese so perfectly the hairballs are barely visible, vacuum cat and dogs hair off the furniture at least twice a week. You may need to vacuum daily when your pet is shedding. Pet hair has an odor, and it contains an oil that will attract dirt to the fabric on which it sits.
Forget silk, chintz or the pet-hair magnet known as velvet. Discover the joys of Crypton, a nearly indestructible synthetic fabric that's resistant to stains, smells, bacteria and muddy paws. Leather is a good choice, easy to clean and durable. Most grades of leather will suffer only scratches from Fido or Fluffy's claws, but hey, the scratches add patina. If you see sad irony in buying a sofa made from an animal for your dog or cat, try pleather. It's animal cruelty-free, relatively inexpensive and has a timeless appeal.
If your dog or cat sleeps with you there will be accidents. Protect your mattress from the inevitable by covering it with a thick pad. Use cotton bed sheets, preferably in a medium color or a pattern that can hide the pet hair and stains between washings. For bedspreads, duvet covers work well because you can take them off and wash them regularly. Delicate-looking matelasse coverlets are surprisingly durable; their tight quilting resists dog or cat toenail snags and repeated washings.
"It's important to consider your pet's lifestyle when you establish the layout of your house," Ruvel says. "If your dog goes outside, make sure he can come back in through an area that's super-impervious." She just finished a project in which she converted a breakfast room into a mud room for a client's two dogs. "She wanted a place where she could get dirt off them before they came in the house," Ruvel says. To do this, Ruvel put porcelain tile on the walls and floor of the breakfast room, which opened onto the backyard. She replaced the table with a banquette upholstered in stain-resistant fabric and equipped with under-the-seat storage for leashes and food. Ruvel installed built-in shelves on the walls where the client could keep towels used to wipe the dirt off the dogs when they came inside from the yard.
Dogs adore pig's ears and rawhide bones, but Julia Szabo says they're a bad idea. "They're hideous, they're smelly and they're as bad for your pet as they are for your floor," she says, pointing out they're coated in nitrates and leave greasy stains on floors and furniture.
Carpet absorbs your pets odors, traps pet hair and soaks up inevitable pet-related stains like a sponge. avoid continuous loop carpet, because a pet toenail can unravel it by catching a single woven loop.
Yes, you can use rugs. The trick is to buy inexpensive ones. Unlike carpet, rugs can be picked up and cleaned, or picked up and thrown out. Sisal or seagrass mats are a good choice, Got an incredible Persian rug you absolutely cannot live without? Hang it on the wall, where your dog or cat can't reach it. If you like the look of carpet, try modular carpet tiles.
Even if your little sweetums goes to the groomer regularly, he or she will still leave smudges on walls and door jambs. A basset hound can sling drool across a room and onto a wall with a shake of his head, and a parrot can fling all sorts of goo out of his cage and onto the wall.
Flat finish paint is nearly impossible to clean; try to wipe off a dirty spot and some of the paint comes off as well, leaving an unsightly mark that must be repainted. Semi-gloss is the easiest to wipe down, but its sheen will call attention to every ding and irregularity in your walls. Satin or eggshell finishes are more elegant, and as easy to clean as glossier paint.
Fragile items and animals don't mix. One bat of a dog's tail or swat of a cat's paw will send your collection of Will-George flamingo figurines skittering across the room like bowling pins. "If you must collect something, collect cast iron doorstops," Julia Szabo says. "Put them where your dog won't trip over them. They look great in a room, and your pets can't hurt them."
Nan Ruvel suggests displaying fragile valuables in a china cabinet with glass-panel doors. "That way, you can see them, but your pet can't break them," she says.
Instead, spend your decorating dollars on framed prints, photos and paintings, Szabo says. "Art hangs on the walls, out of reach of your pets."