10 Stylish Décor Tips and Tricks for Pet Parents

How to decorate around the cutest accessory in your home: your pet.
By: Teresa Traverse
Decor tips for pet owners

Pet owners trying to create a stylish home are often literally stopped in their tracks by bowls, beds, crates and a colorful assortment of pet accessories just trying to get across the living room. But don’t give up! You can have a chic home that includes pets, too.

And you won’t have to toss your pet’s belongings to make your home look great, either. Keeping the toys and accessories your pet loves is key to providing your dog or cat with a welcoming environment.

“Pets are kind of like kids where they like structure,” says Joi D. Prater, of the Allied Association of Interior Designers (ASID) and San Diego-based Joi Prater Interiors. “If you got a crate they’re sleeping in every night and all of the sudden the crate is gone, that would be like someone taking [a kid’s] bed away.”

Here are ten interior designer-approved tips to make your home more stylish, pets, toys and all.

Hang Leashes and Harnesses on Hooks

When it comes to storing dog leashes, Prater suggests putting them on display using a cute hook. Mount the hooks—maybe in a neat row—in the laundry room or right by the door so that you always know where to find your dog’s leash and harness.

Use Stylish Storage Containers

“Just like you would keep things organized for kids in their rooms, you can do the same with your pets,” says Prater. Use wicker trunks, a steamer chest, storage cubes or an ottoman to act as both an accent piece in a room as well as a storage container for pet toys, clothes and supplies.

Create a Litterbox Hutch

Every feline parent knows that (most) cats love to hide in boxes, and some may be willing to use a litterbox inside of one to spruce up the space. Prater suggests covering a cardboard or plywood box in fabric or even painting it to be more visually appealing.

Remodel Your Cat Condo

Like any design element, Prater says to focus first on function, then try to make it pleasing to the eye. Keeping this in mind, Prater suggests placing cat condos near the window since many cats enjoy gazing outside. Placing the condo there also makes it more likely that your cat will spend his or her time on the condo instead of on your furniture. Then, make it easy on the eyes by covering it in a fun fabric.

“By reupholstering in a leopard print or something fuzzy and fun, it’s like a little piece of jewelry for the room,” she says.

Consider Your Flooring Options

The best type of floor for a home with pets is porcelain tile with an epoxy grout, says Prater, who helped design Foothills Animal Rescue in Scottsdale, Arizona. “With a porcelain tile and an epoxy grout, nothing is going to seep in underneath the tile. When you have wood flooring or an accident, urine could seep underneath the wood to the subfloor.”

She also recommends investing in carpets with a special backing that won’t allow urine to seep through the padding.

Disguise Crates

Since many crates and litter boxes can be unattractive, Janet Brooks of ASID and Scottsdale-based Janet Brooks Design suggests coming up with creative ways to hide them.

In one home, Brooks placed the cat’s litter boxes inside of a cabinet, with a hole on the side so the cat could access it. In another place, a couple wanted their dogs to be able to be in their bedroom without actually sharing their bed. Brooks’ solution? Building the crates in the closet.

“We built their crates into the master closet with mesh viewing into the master bedroom so that they could see and smell their owners at night when they were sleeping but they were actually in their own crates,” says Brooks.

Prater suggests placing crates underneath stairwells or in crawl spaces that are open enough to allow your dog to still feel like part of the action without having their “den” in the center of the room.

Personalize Their Accessories

If you’re ready to replace your bowls and blankets, Prater suggests buying fabrics with fun patterns or monogramming bowls for a personal touch. Make sure, however, that you’re buying items your pets will actually like and use, like stainless steel bowls and extra-comfortable bedding.

“They like nice comfortable down, cushy soft furniture just as much as we do. The more comfortable you can make it for them, then the happier you’re going to be because you’ve given them their own bed,” Prater says.

Invest in Washable Fabrics

If you’re in the market for new furniture, consider purchasing pet-friendly solution-dyed acrylic fabrics, which are washable and won’t be affected by UV rays, says Brooks.

Prater agrees that it’s best to stick to synthetic textiles. “You want to stay away from cottons and linens and silks with pets. They’re not durable, and they show stain. They’re not pet friendly. Go with a polyester, nylon or a synthetic fiber.”

Leather is another durable option for pet owners, provided you ensure it won’t get scratched.

“The most durable leather is going to be top-grain hide,” says Prater. But “even within top-grain hides, you have different finishes. Some of your leather will show scratches, some won’t.”

She suggests making a small scratch in the leather with your thumbnail. If the scratch shows, keep browsing for another piece.

Steer Clear of Wood

You’ll want to stay away from wood surfaces since cats can scratch those. Brooks suggests opting for glass, stone or quartz tabletops. If you’re in the market for a new door, Brooks recommends a metal and glass one, especially if your dog is prone to pawing.

Purchase Flat Paint

If you’re repainting the walls, Brooks says it’s best to dip your brush into a high-quality washable flat (also called matte) paint, as paints are easier to clean. “That way you’re not constantly repainting where there are stains and dirt marks,” she says.