When Kelly Poolson decided to redecorate her living and dining rooms, she knew exactly the look she wanted to achieve -- uncluttered, modern, warm and inviting.
Standing in the way of feng shui bliss stood a green chair Poolson had owned for several years. It had to go. But there was one miniature problem -- Poolson's black and tan, 9-pound dachshund named Queenie. The chair had been Queenie's throne since the day she was strong enough to jump and claim it as her own.
"I knew I had to replace it with something that would make Queenie feel comfortable, but it also had to blend in with the rest of the decor," Poolson said.
As with most things in life, the solution was just a few keyboard keystrokes away. Online Kelly discovered the wonderful World Wide Web of pampered pooches and pets. Among them, BigDogBeds.com, a California-based company that designs custom furniture just for pets.
Poolson sent them a picture of the life-size version of the chair along with fabric to match her new furniture. Two weeks later, Queenie settled in to the exact replica of her original chair -- in mini daschund size.
"People come over and don't even notice it's a dog chair until I point it out," Poolson said. "It's become quite the conversation piece."
Best of all, Queenie loves it.
Anytime you redecorate or remodel your home is a great time to work your pet into the décor. But before you hire contractors or spend money, experts recommend you look at your home through your pet's eyes.
Where do you begin? Let's start at the very bottom.
When choosing the right flooring, ask yourself: Will it hold up to scratches? Is it easy to maintain and clean? Will anyone be able to tell if Fido or Fluffy couldn't hold it in while you were working overtime?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, tile, linoleum and hardwood floors are the most pet-friendly options. Laminate floors are even better since they look like wood, cost less and are more scratch-resistant than real wood.
If you prefer rugs, choose machine-washable area rugs over wall-to-wall carpeting. If urine soaks into carpet backing, good luck getting it out. Area rugs, on the other hand, are durable, washable, will hide dirt. Plus, they're cheaper to replace.
When choosing paint for your walls, any color will do as long as you use washable semi-gloss paint in areas where your pets will spend most of their time. Stay away from flat paint. It's nearly impossible to clean.
If you plan to hang frames, mirrors or any other decorations on walls, you should also take into account your pet's size. Anything within its reach is fair game.
Fancy window treatments dress up a room very nicely. But to your pet, they're nothing but a swing set waiting for someone to take a ride.
The ASPCA recommends you avoid vertical blinds, pooling drapery, ornate tassels and long cords. If your pet gets caught in any of these treatments, he could panic and bring anything around him crashing down, or worse, strangle himself.
You should also think twice about mini-blinds, which can get bent beyond repair when they block a curious pet's view of the outside world.
"The single most important thing you can do when it comes to furniture is to match the fabric's colors to your pet's fur," says designer Adele Masterson. "Patterns or tweeds will hide more, but if you prefer solids, throw a washable slipcover on your pet's favorite couch or chair."
Leather and vinyl are easy to clean, but remember to clip your pet's nails regularly.
If you really want to incorporate your pets into your overall décor, you should provide them with their own bed in each room.
In The Doghouse
If redecorating your house around your pets sounds like too much work, you have one more option.
Build them their own house.
Last year, veteran real estate broker Donald Gorbach's business went to the dogs -- literally. Recognizing his clients' desire to settle for nothing but the best for themselves as well as their pets, "Top Dog" Gorbach and his "Chief 'Barketing' Officer" Stacy Small founded Doggie Mansions, a luxury real estate firm catering to the needs of pampered pets.
"You start by sending us a photo of your own home. Our Doggie Architect then custom builds a Doggie Mansion similar in style," Gorbach said. Amenities from which you can choose include an air-conditioning/heater combo unit; a doggie water fountain; ceramic, stone or marble floors; designer furnishings and a flat-screen TV. They will even install a pool and hurricane-proof windows -- extras that no self-respecting pampered pet should live without.
With luxury like this, who wouldn't want to be in the dog house!