Do’s and Don'ts for Decorating With Pets

Ensure a safe, clean, and cozy home for all.
By: Valerie Trumps
A cat and dog in a decorated home.

Pets can really put a damper on your home decorating. They ruin carpets, break valuables, and get hair on every visible surface. But don’t fret. These guidelines will help you create a pet-friendly home that still meets your stylish standards. 

DO resist breakable items. Dogs’ tails and fragile tchotchkes don’t mix. No matter how lovely that vase is, it could potentially be destroyed if it’s within your pet’s reac. If you must decorate with breakables, place them where your pet can’t get to them. Triangular corner shelves or curio cabinets with doors will ensure that your fragile décor remains intact. Hanging breakables as art on the wall works, too.

DON’T buy expensive rugs and carpet. Cat barf stains and muddy dog paws can permanently ruin high-priced rugs and carpets. Sturdy carpet squares that are modular and fit together are a great substitute. If your pet stains one section, the tiles are easy to replace. Mats made of seagrass or sisal are cheap and hold up against regular pet traffic. If you have an Oriental rug that you can’t give up, try hanging it on the wall, out of your pets’ reach.

DO choose your paint wisely. Flat finish paint shows every smudge, drool mark, and stain. Plus, it is difficult—if not impossible—to wipe down. Washing flat finish painted walls will rub off some of the paint as well as leave marks. Instead, choose an eggshell or satin finish, which are easier to clean and stain-resistant. While semi-gloss is easy to clean, its shine will highlight dents from raucous doggy fun.

DON’T give messy treats. Rawhide bones are a go-to treat for many pooch parents, but the gummy pieces are tough to clean up. Fragments that dry on carpets and rugs become fused with the fibers, making you break out the scissors to pull them free. Real bones can also make a mess, staining your rugs and furniture and giving off a funky smell. Instead, give your dog rubber chew toys that will hold up well and still meet his needs.

DO use slipcovers on furniture. Inexpensive, machine-washable sofa and chair slipcovers save the expense of replacing furniture once it gets dirty or stained. For the indecisive decorator, it’s easy to occasionally change your furniture’s look without breaking the bank. Pet-friendly fabric on sofas and chairs also helps you avoid constantly shooing pets off of the furniture, and gives you peace of mind while you’re away from home.

DON’T choose opposite-colored furnishings. Black fabric and white cats or dogs requires constant sticky rolling to remove the hair left behind. The same is true for white fabric and black cats or dogs. Instead, choose slipcover fabrics, rugs and carpet squares that closely match your pet’s fur. They will still require regular maintenance, but the mounds of pet hair won’t be so obvious in between cleaning. Blending the colors of both pet and furnishings will also save you from constantly chasing down fur tumbleweeds.

DO get a cat tree or perch. Kitty needs a place of her own, high up to observe your household’s activity and give her a sense of security. The obvious bonus is that she also can be trained to scratch a cat tree’s carpet instead of your furniture’s fabric. Consider stapling matching, stylish rug pieces to the cat tree to make it more attractive and match your décor. Other great options are a window perch or series of high shelves around the perimeter of the room, spaced out so your cat can jump from one to another.

DON’T let pets have free rein. An effective way to keep your house from being a hairy mess is to set up a pet corner, room, or area where it doesn’t matter if the fur is falling. Whether it is a hard-floored bathroom or a mudroom, an established pet zone gives you a place to brush and de-shed Fido and Fluffy, clip their nails, or clean them off after a romp in the mud. It can also be your pet’s special retreat where he isn’t bothered. If you have one or two rooms in your home that you want untouched by pets while you aren’t at home, just be sure to close doors or put up gates to keep them from entering and making a mess.

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