Make your house pet-friendly

As part of a major kitchen renovation, Hannah and Jason Wise wanted to incorporate some pet-friendly features for their top dog.

The couple, who relocated from Alabama to the Atlanta area with their two young daughters and a seven-year-old boxer, searched houzz.com for help. They found Joann Kandrac, designer and co-owner of Kandrac and Kole Interior Designs Inc.

For Hannah, having a designated, off-the-floor space for Henry’s water and food bowls was a must. So was having convenient storage for his kibble.

Last April, the couple moved in to their Sandy Springs home. Along with new appliances, hardwood floors, countertops and cabinets, the kitchen includes a slide-out bin (behind matching cabinetry) for dog food. Next to the bin, is an open base cabinet with adjustable shelves for Henry’s elevated, built-in bowls.

“The bowls aren’t an eyesore or underfoot,” said Hannah. “And the dog food is so convenient, even my three-year-old can feed him.”

The Wises aren’t the only family requesting stylish, pooch-friendly options as part of a remodeling project or new home build.

In its 2014 report, the National Kitchen & Bath Association, a trade group, singled out accommodating pets as a new trend. In the report dozens of NKBA members from across the country said they are getting more requests to create kitchens with pet-specific spaces, including feeding stations, niches for crates and beds, litter boxes and food storage.

Atlanta-area interior designers, like Kandrac, Jenny Warner of J. Thomas Designs and Kelly Carlisle of Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio, agree. All have designed pet-smart spaces for clients.

“People are customizing their homes not only to function for them, but also for their pets,” said Kandrac. “If it can’t be hidden, then it better be attractive.”

Living with animals has its challenges. But there are many ways to keep your house from going to the dogs. Consider these tail-wagging tips and design ideas from Kandrac, Warner and Carlisle.

What to consider

- Location. Besides the kitchen, mudroom, or laundry room, a large pantry makes a good area for pets. Shelves can store food, dog treats and accessories. The pantry floor can serve as an eating area. If your house has a mudroom or large laundry room, you can outfit it with built-in shelves, cabinets and hooks, for your pet’s leashes and litter boxes and children’s backpacks.

- Flooring. If you have pets, the floor is an important consideration, according to dog design authority Julia Szabo, author of “Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot’s Digs Stylish and Spotless.” Easy to clean, non-porous surfaces are ideal, said Szabo.

Concrete, which can be slippery, and ceramic tiles work well. Laminate is a good choice too. If you insist on hardwood floors, keep pets’ nails trimmed to prevent scratches and clean up puddles right away to keep planks from staining. Carpet is not recommended because it is too hard to clean and stain free.

- Animal attraction. It is tough to know in advance if your pets will like the spaces you built for them. Training may be required to teach dogs where to sleep or use high-tech doggy doors.

- Tough sell. Pet-friendly features may not appeal to potential buyers who aren’t pet owners. Make sure you can reverse your design, by adding cabinetry or cabinet doors that blend in with the rest of the home.

Creating pet spaces

Eating and feeding. Too often pet bowls are left in the open and under foot waiting to get knocked over. A built-in food station prevents bowls from tipping over and food from spilling on to the floor or into water bowls. A special nook in the cabinetry or pull-out food drawers can keep bowls out of sight when not in use.

Food storage. An old-fashioned metal or plastic garbage can work as storage for dry dog food, but a built-in, roll-out (or pull-out) bin in the room where your dog eats is more attractive and accessible.

Sleeping. Dog beds and crates can take up lot of space. Instead of allowing them to clutter your rooms, consider creating cozy built-in niches under shelves, islands, window seats or stairs. Use the same cabinetry or the same colors as your architectural trim to blend in. Add a sized-right cushion or dog bed with a washable pad.

Washing and walking. In the area where your pet enters or exits the house, add hooks for leashes and cabinets, lockers or shelves for towels to wash off dirty feet when they come in from the yard. Some pet owners install a dog shower with a hand-held nozzle inside a mudroom or laundry room – or just outside the door. But because plumbing can be an issue, it may be easier (and cheaper in the long run) to wash your large dog in the bathtub using a hand-held shower. Or call the groomer.

Litter box. A laundry room is a good place for the litter box. It’s not occupied as often as the bathroom, and installing it into a cabinet or wall makes it easy for your cat to get inside — and for you to clean. Another option: Purchased a kitty litter box that looks like an elegant piece of wood furniture and prevent litter from being kicked on the floor. A few months ago, Kandrac ordered one from Sky Mall magazine for clients – and they loved it.

Doggy door. No matter where you install a dog or cat door (wall, door or large glass window) try to blend it in to your home’s design. Like appliance garages in the kitchen, there are creative ways to hide doggy doors. Some designers have put doggy doors inside cabinets in a laundry room or closet. Others have put a doggy door and tunnel under stairs. Since home safety is an issue, make sure to add a lock for security.

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