“Putting on the dog” has taken on a whole new meaning when it comes to designing with pets in mind.
Whether it’s fashioning an area for your pup or kitty to lounge, sleep or dine, you no longer have to fret about whether their stuff will clash with yours. High-style fabrics for beds, bowls for dining and drinking, and furniture that is so good looking it can do double duty in your family room or bedroom, have been game-changers.
There are plenty of choices — not only on dedicated websites but also from high-end fashion and interior designers, manufacturers and retailers who are dishing up options that blend with many styles of decor.
And there clearly is a need, as there currently are nearly 80 million pet-owning households, according to a national pet owner survey sponsored by the American Pet Products Association.
It’s a business that has grown to around $60 billion annually.
One major catalyst has been the explosion of performance fabrics and fibers, which especially has been a boon to homes with children and pets. Fabrics from Sunbrella and Crypton handle sun, moisture and are mildew- and stain-resistant.
June Barker, who launched one of the early pet websites, the DogBedWorks in 1993, can attest to the toughness of these fabrics.
“I have a 90-pound lab who is a nester,” says Barker. “He has a Crypton bed, which is almost indestructible. It’s built for durability — plus style.”
Even high-end fabric manufacturers now include outdoor collections. And lifestyle brands are smart to offer pet-related pieces that blend with their look. Among the retailers currently offering dog beds, for example, are Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters and West Elm.
Blending in and functionality have been top considerations for some designers. A few years back, architect/interior designer Bobby McAlpine included an elegant console in his furniture line for MacRae. One option, a Directoire style shown in weathered oak with ebony detailing, features a nesting spot along the base, which tucks in a cushion for pets.
Custom cabinet manufacturer Wood-Mode created a Pet Parlor as part of its Embassy Row cabinetry. The concept, which reflects a larger trend catering to America’s booming pet market, features a multitasking room that has an island for brushing, grooming, sorting and folding; washer and dryer and laundry bins; hideaway dog dish drawer with adjacent food storage bins; a deep sink for bathing; and a “fountain” with faucet that allows fill-ups for a bowl tucked in beneath it.
The bar also has been raised with the design of pet beds. While most beds average around $150, some are as expensive as furniture. One with a tufted cushion on the Lap of Luxury Dog Spa website, looks like a leather club chair and sells for $495. Another model on the same site called Marilyn Muttroe, features Swarovski-encrusted bone shapes on each of the four sides of a 36-inch-long white iron bed and sells for $1,150.
Designer Annie Selke, who named her rug company Dash + Albert for two of her dogs, recently added to her company offerings pet beds made of chew-proof and hose-off woven polypropylene stuffed with smooshable polystyrene beads. She also designed “slipcovers” made of softer fabric that can be secured with drawstrings.
Michael Tavano, creative director of Marks & Tavano, a New York workroom that designs custom upholstery, window treatments, bedding and tabletops, has been designing fancy dog beds for about 15 years.
“I wanted to design something that looked like a piece of artwork, a sculpture,” says Tavano, “something that has some life to it. It evolved. I used all outdoor fabrics.” His creation: The Pooch Penthouse, which has a tiger-patterned cushion and features a rooftop tray to hold leashes. “You can put it next to a sofa and use it as a side table,” he says.
Seattle designer Evan Gray Gregory built her company, Modernist Cat, on the idea that “the ways we incorporate our pet’s needs into our home is an opportunity for added beauty rather than a problem of hiding an eyesore. “
“I’ve taken litter box covers, dog crates, scratching posts, pet beds, and even food and water dishes and made them into gorgeous, high-quality furniture that serves our human needs and desires too,” says Gray Gregory. “It’s why my slogan is: “Made for pets. Designed for you.”
Ballard Designs, 800-536-7551, www.ballarddesigns.com
Brown Jordan, 800-743-4252, www.brownjordan.com
Calling All Dogs, 800-965-8596, www.callingalldogs.com
Crypton, 800-279-7866, www.crypton.com
DogBedWorks, 413-522-8857, www.dogbedworks.com
Fresh American by Annie Selke at Codarus, 800-755-5144, www.codarus.com
Harry Barker, 800-444-2779, www.harrybarker.com
In the Company of Dogs, 800-544-4595, www.inthecompanyofdogs.com
Kenneth Cobonpue, 888-889-9005, www.kennethcobonpue.com
Lap of Luxury Dog Spa, 561-637-3856, www.lapofluxurydogspa.com
Mackenzie-Childs, 888-665-1999, www.mackenzie-childs.com
Marks + Tavano, 646-476-7070, www.marksandtavano.com
McAlpine Home, MacRae Designs, 800-446-5526, www.macraedesigns.com
Modern Tails, 646-470-7387, www.moderntails.com/shop
Modernist Cat, 425-954-6369, www.modernistcat.com
Perennials, 888-322-4773, www.perennialsfabrics.com
Wood-Mode, 877-635-7500, www.wood-mode.com