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5 ways to make your living space more pet-friendly

The fabrics, flooring, and cleaning agents you need to make life with a furry friend easier.

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By Architectural Digest US | October 16, 2021 | Interiors

If there’s one thing Kari Whitman knows for sure, it’s that it is entirely possible to create a home that is beautiful as well as pet-friendly. This is something she’s proven repeatedly over the last 23 years as owner of the design firm Kari Whitman Interiors and of the Ace of Hearts dog rescue.

Though Whitman is a high-end designer, she believes it’s important to create spaces for the entire family—pets included. We picked her brain on some of the simple tricks that people can employ to optimise their living spaces for all the wear and tear that comes with pet parenting. Here’s what she had to say.

Be mindful with fabrics

Dogs and cats are attracted to soft, cozy places—that’s why they are often drawn to your bed or couch. Although it’s adorable to see them curled up like a croissant on your favorite chair, the fur and slobber they leave behind is significantly less cute.

For upholstery, Whitman says she likes to use faux leather and ultrasuede. “Not only are you making your carbon footprint print smaller by using vegan products, but also the materials are easy cleaning and scratch-resistant.”

If you already have a sofa you love, another option is using a machine washable faux fur throw to keep the coziness, but limit the real animal fur transfer.

“You can move it to your bed in the evenings if you choose or put it on one side of your couch,” Whitman says. “Hair will not stick to it, you can shake it out if needed, and it looks stylish.”

Another trick? Choosing upholstery that is a similar color to your pet. It’s harder to tell if there’s brown fur on a brown sofa. Similarly, patterns and tweeds are less likely to show signs of shedding if your pet is multi-colored.

Use wipeable wallpaper and paint finishes

If you’ve ever wondered how all those spots ended up on your walls, consider how often your dog shakes off after coming in from the rain or their excited tail thumps against the wall. To help mitigate the issue, Whitman suggests selecting wallpaper and paint finishes that aren’t delicate.

“Most wallpapers will come in a commercial-grade option, which is easy to wipe down,” Whitman explains. “I also love to use high-gloss paint for my clients—it’s so easy to clean!”

Opt for wood or tile flooring

Damage to carpets is often one of the top reasons landlords cite for charging a pet deposit. The fibers are challenging to clean, often aren’t durable enough to withstand animal claws, and are prone to absorbing funky pet odors. If you’re looking for something that will last, tile and hardwood may be a better bet.

For tiling, consider porcelain or ceramic options, as they’re the easiest to clean (and are a cool place for your four-legged companion to nap during hot weather). Look for a large sized flat tile, as the grout between tiles can make clean-up efforts more difficult. For hardwoods, Whitman suggests beech, bamboo, and recycled teak, because they are more resistant to scratching.

“If you have a large dog and worry about scratching your wood floors, I strongly suggest a wood finish called Glitsa,” Whitman says. “I have a 200-pound dog. I stained my wood floors black and have not had one scratch in five years.”

If you choose to use rugs (not a bad idea, especially with older pets who are prone to slipping), pick one that is machine washable, like those from Ruggable, or one that is for indoor-outdoor use.

Use storage to your advantage

Tennis balls, squeaky and rattling toys, and half-chewed dog bones don’t do much to elevate the overall look of your living room. Whitman suggests using a large basket or vintage crate to stash your pet’s favorites and keep your house orderly.

It’s also important to use storage or high shelves to keep hazards away from your pets, including food and houseplants that are toxic to them. If your pet is noisy and adept at opening cabinets or doors, be sure to invest in safety locks.

Choose cleaners carefully

If you have a pet, chances are you’re going to have to clean more regularly than someone who doesn’t. When tackling the cleaning to-do list, it’s important to not overlook what is in the products you use, Whitman says. Considering dogs and cats spend their days roaming the house and grooming themselves with their tongues, avoid using chemical cleaners that would be harmful if ingested.

“No Pine-Sol, no Swiffers, please,” Whitman says. Instead, she suggests Mrs. Meyers and Indigo Wild, two pet-friendly cleaners that fall within the sweet spot of being made with natural ingredients and being actually able to get the job done.

This was originally published on Architectural Digest US.

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