Home & Garden

Decorating around your four-legged best friend

Mary Carol Garrity says she has gotten pretty good not only at decorating around a dog, but also celebrating her canine companions in her decor.
Mary Carol Garrity says she has gotten pretty good not only at decorating around a dog, but also celebrating her canine companions in her decor. TNS

Dan and I don’t fight over who is the head of the household. That power position is undisputedly held by Lyric, our golden retriever. We inherited this sweet pooch from some dear friends, and within minutes, she had stolen our hearts — and taken over our home. After a few dog-free years, piles of hair and muddy footprints are once again a part of my life.

I’ve gotten pretty good at not only decorating around a dog, but also celebrating our canine companion in our decor. Here’s how you can too.

Lyric follows Dan like a shadow throughout our home. She goes with him to work, riding shotgun in the front seat. In fact, I refuse to ride in his car anymore because it’s so doggy. Our sofa, Lyric’s favorite bed, would be just as bad if I hadn’t figured out this dog-hair-protection trick: Cover the back and seat of the sofa with a washable quilt.

Instead of covering your gorgeous sofa with a sheet to protect it from your pets, drop a twin-sized washable quilt behind the sofa about 8 inches, then drape the remainder over the back and seat of the sofa, tucking it in at the back of the cushions. If your dog sleeps on the sofa, tuck the tail of the quilt under the front of cushions. If your dog sleeps on the floor but rests against the sofa, extend the quilt to the ground, like a skirt. When the quilt gets dirty, hairy or smells like dog, just throw it in the wash. I have three quilts so I always have a clean one in the wings in case we have unexpected guests.

Another great option is to cover your upholstered furniture with outdoor fabrics that clean up easily. Some of our customers like to get slipcovers made for their furniture or seat cushions that they can zip off and launder.

People who love dogs — and even those who do not — often like to use images of dogs in their decor. I’m crazy about hunt club styling, especially in the fall, so I couldn’t resist Spode dishes that feature hunting hounds. When I do a thematic tablescape, I like to have a bit of fun by poking in a whimsical element or two to make guests smile. For me, zany 3D dog mugs were just the ticket.

Here are a few other suggestions:

▪ Mix and match an assortment of breeds or set the table with your favorite.

▪ Toss in an accent pillows that features your dog’s breed.

▪ Artwork featuring dogs is a classic. Pick a large piece to hang over a buffet or sofa. Or create a display that pulls in diverse works of art that revolve around a central theme.

▪ Like any thematic decor, a little bit goes a long way, so choose your dog-related accents wisely. Maybe a figurine on an end table?

▪ I’m always on the hunt for unique home decor, distinctive pieces that will set your home apart. This year, I lost my heart to Seven Barks Fine Goods and their crazy cute line of dog-themed paper products. Their tagline says it all: “Fabulously fun. Seriously useful. Dedicated to our four-footed friends.” Designed and produced in the United States, their high-quality stationary products feature vintage images of dogs and are made from recycled paper.

▪ Dog essentials don’t have to be boring. In fact, they can enhance your decor. Lyric uses blue and white ceramic dog bowls. I also like to keep dog food and dog treats in pretty containers, like lidded or glass apothecary jars. Where do you keep your dog’s leash? Instead of stuffing it in a drawer, hang it on a pretty hook by your door.

▪ Many dogs like a private place to curl up and take a nap. Instead of a kennel, why not treat Spot to his own pup tent?

▪ Let’s face it: Dogs can be stinky sometimes. If guests are coming, or if you just want to clear the air, light a candle.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.