Dog-Friendly Home Design / by Lee Consterdine & Katelyn Remington-Arata

The dog days of summer may be over, but for many of our clients, every day is a dog[-filled] day!  While living with dogs can be a joyful experience, our four-legged family members also come with several tough household considerations, ranging from, "How do I keep my dog healthy and safe in my home?" to, "How do I keep my home healthy and safe with a dog in it?!"  

Fortunately, our team is as well-versed in custom residential design for humans as we are in pet parenting (and proofing!) -- Whatever our clients' canine cohabitation conundrums may be, we're ready to help. Below are some of the features we use to created pet-friendly fur-ever homes, paw-fect for people and pups alike! 

 Goodbye playpens, crates, and baby gates! Double Dutch doors are a great way to temporarily relegate your dog to their dedicated area without using unsightly equipment.  Photo by Tim Barber Ltd. 

Goodbye playpens, crates, and baby gates! Double Dutch doors are a great way to temporarily relegate your dog to their dedicated area without using unsightly equipment.  Photo by Tim Barber Ltd. 

Pet Access Zones

The idea of designing a home around a dog may initially seem excessive, but thoughtful consideration of how pets fits into our client's lifestyle early in the design process can make living with a dog significantly more enjoyable later on.  For instance, laundry rooms are popular places for dog nooks, but that may quickly become an unpopular arrangement if the laundry is located near bedrooms and the dog is a barker and/or whiner. 

 As we work with clients in the early design phases to develop their homes' layouts, determining which rooms go where may be partially contingent on which of the following pet access zones they fall into:

  1. Dedicated pet areas;
  2. Shared people-pet spaces; and
  3. People-only places

These pet access zones allow our clients to regulate where their dogs are allowed to be (and be heard) at any given time, and can be personalized based on each client's needs.

 


Dedicated Pet Areas

It's healthy for dogs to have a space within a house that they know as their own, and -- rather than creating exclusively canine rooms -- clients often opt to create doggy domains within their home's existing utilitarian spaces.  We like to design laundries and mudrooms with durable and resilient materials, making them naturally ideal habitats for a species prone to being messy. 

For dual-duty utilitarian/pet spaces, cabinetry can play a huge role in making discreet transformations to and from pet and people areas.  Incorporating dog beds and crates into cabinetry allows families to easily tuck away or bring out their pets' beds, and a low shelf for pet toys in a bin makes for great storage while still allowing pets to access their favorite things.  Dedicated pet food storage and feeding dish drawers are also a common request. 

While many pet parents prefer their dogs get comfy in their designated area, there are ways to make them feel at home in shared spaces, too! Features like under-bench nooks provide places for dogs to curl up when they are out and about in the house or their usual spots are in use. 


Pet Doors

Some clients want their dogs to have free rein of both the house and yard without having to be their doorperson. Pet doors make this possible, but can raise both design and security issues. We mitigate these concerns by keeping doors out of sight and incorporating them in a clever way.  Doors are often accessed through secret openings in built-in furnishings like desks and benches. Winding dog-sized tunnels between indoor and outdoor entryways can help keep unwanted animals or visitors for sneaking in, as might electronic and magnetic doors. 

While owners may enjoy allowing their dogs to roam freely throughout their property, other pets may not share the sentiment. Dogs and cats have a history of contentious cohabitation, and while that's certainly not always the case, in the instances it is, a little absence can make the heart grow fonder.  Cat-sized "caves" and tunnels allow our feline friends to flee the scene or hideout when dogs come around.


Why opt for a designated pet wash station when you can rinse your dog in your tub? Wet dogs tend to vigorously shake off water, sending their wet dog smell (and depending on the breed, fur) all over the room!  Outdoor dogs might also pick up dirt, debris, and/or bugs in their fur that you wouldn't want elsewhere in your home. Photo by Tim Barber Ltd. 

Pet Cleaning Features

Dogs aren't known for their cleanliness, which can be frustrating for canine-loving clients who also pride themselves on keeping a spotless home, or who are particularly sensitive to pet smells and dander.  A clean dog makes for a clean home, so the first line of defense against doggy dirt is, of course, bathing the dog.  For client who prefer to bathe their dogs themselves, mud room sinks can serve a small dog, but for larger -- or multiple dogs, designated dog baths are a popular request.  We typically locate dog washes in rooms with or near outdoor access, so that dirty dogs don't mess up the rest of the house while en route to getting cleaned!

Even with the most vigilant cleaning regimen, clients may still find traces of their dog's dirt throughout the home, carried in the air (especially if they have a non-hypoallergenic dog!). To help our clients literally and figuratively breathe easier, we often incorporate a house-wide air purifying system.  Built-in sweep vacuums and central vacuum cleaners might help quickly combat any build-up of shedded fur, too. 

Certain materials and finishes may also make living with and cleaning up after pets easier.  We often advise our pet parent clients to select glossy or semi-gloss paints that wipe clean with minimal effort, and high-performance, durable, stain-repellant fabrics for dedicated pet areas and shared people-pet spaces. 


What pet-friendly features have you used (or would you like to use) in your home? Let us know in the comments below!