How pet-friendly home interiors don't have to sacrifice style


Some pet owners are asking interior designers to give their homes a pet-friendly makeover. Photo: AFP

When furnishing a house or apartment, care must be taken to meet the needs of all its occupants. This includes pets. It's estimated that over half the people in the world own at least one pet. And this number continues to rise every year.

Two-thirds of American households will have a dog, cat or other pet by 2023, according to figures from the American Pet Products Association, quoted by Forbes. This compares with 56% in 1988.

This increase in the number of pets is accompanied by a change in their status. The Covid-19 pandemic and periods of lockdown served to strengthen the bond people have with their pets. For this reason, many "pet parents" want to share their own life experiences with their pets by dressing them up, for example, taking them to restaurants and cafes or by creating their own space in the home.

But it's not enough to simply put a kennel in the garden or buy a cat tree. The most devoted (and wealthy) owners don't hesitate to call in interior designers to give their homes a pet-friendly makeover.

For example, one couple contacted Alexandra Barker, founder of the New York architecture firm BAAO, to oversee the renovation of their Brooklyn home.

"They came to me with a request to design a house for them and their two cats. Right from the get-go, the cats were on an equivalent plane," she told the New York Times.

The architect designed a bookcase integrated into one of the living room walls that also serves as a play area for the couple's cats. The bookcase contains a cat run, shelves that the cats can use as steps and hatches – ideal for the two pets to explore the space as they like.

Ready to make sacrifices

This example is far from isolated. Dominic McKenzie, founder of the London-based architecture studio Dominic McKenzie Architects, has also designed interior projects with pets in mind. For example, he came up with a way of concealing a cat flap inside one of a family's kitchen cupboards so that their cat could come and go as it pleased.

"We made the cat’s doorway house-shaped to give it a special character – the cat is very happy," he told The Independent.Other interior designers have been asked to come up with clever ways of hiding litter boxes or pet food stations.

Because adapting your home for your dog or cat doesn't have to mean sacrificing style. It's entirely possible to create a comfortable space for your little companion without compromising on interior design. Companies such as Tuft & Paw, Catastrophic Creations, Meyou and Jelico have made this their specialty.

These four brands offer a variety of furniture items and accessories specially designed for animals, which blend in perfectly with most interiors. There's also Bink Rabbit Goods, an American start-up specialising in rabbit litter boxes that won't look out of place in a stylish home interior.

While some "pet parents" rethink their homes to ensure their pets' well-being, others are willing to make real estate sacrifices to ensure their home is suitable for their companions. For example, 72% of potential buyers say they would give up their dream home if it wasn't suitable for their little pet, according to a survey conducted in 2022 by among 3,001 American adults.

Even more surprising, 66% of them say they have already taken this decision out of consideration for their pet.

Instead of abandoning their real estate project, buyers who are also pet owners are ready to make compromises to find a property that guarantees a certain level of comfort for their animal.

Nearly a third would do without a room (37%) or an extra bedroom (33%) to give their pet more or better space. Clearly, nothing is too much to keep some pets happy. – AFP Relaxnews

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