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Pet Projects

Jan 15, 2008
Even though we like to think of our pets as important and treasured members of our families, we sometimes forget about ways we can include them in our home design and decorating plans.

Thanks to new products and technologies, it has never been easier to incorporate the needs of our four-legged (or in some cases, two-legged and gilled) friends into our home designs.

Fabrics: In addition to fun and whimsical pet-inspired patterns, the growing popularity of outdoor living spaces has led to the development of new moisture-resistant and antimicrobial fabrics that are indistinguishable from traditional indoor fabrics. Whether you choose them to upholster your pieces or use them just as slipcovers, these fabrics are ideal for pet owners who like to share their favorite sofas and chairs with their furry friends. Check out Crypton Super Fabrics to see new fabrics created by photographer William Wegman and architect Michael Graves that appeal to pet-loving families. Perennials Fabrics carries an extensive line of products ranging from contemporary to traditional patterns and has recently teamed up with textile designers Galbraith & Paul® to create an exciting new line of durable and beautiful products.

Flooring Surfaces: If you have a family member (or members) who suffer from allergies and you don't enjoy heavy cleaning on a frequent basis, you should avoid deep pile carpets such as shag rugs. Hard surfaces enable you to control allergens better, but in the past many pet owners shied away from hardwood floors because of concerns about claw and scratch marks. Thanks to a new water-based, low VOC polymer floor finish called "Traffic" from Bona , pet owners can put those fears to rest and once again enjoy beautiful and easy-to-clean hardwood floors.

Air Quality and Odor Control: Pet owners and non-pet owners alike should consider room or whole- house air purification systems that are attached to the air conditioning unit. These filtering systems, along with a good vacuum with a HEPA filter, can help remove allergens and irritants from your home (and not just pet irritants) thus making the air healthier for everyone. To help control pet odors, make sure you clean up any messes on carpets and fabrics as soon as they occur and use good quality kitty litters with maximum odor absorption capabilities. Yesterday's News® by Purina is made from recycled newspaper and is a good choice. Avoid scented cat litter - the chemicals used can irritate both you and your pet.

Space Planning - Indoors and Out: If you own a large dog or a big bird, you should consider this animal's space needs just as you would consider the space needs of another member of your family. Make sure your most-used living spaces (kitchen, family room, bedrooms) can accommodate your large animal. And regardless of whether your pets are big or small, find ways to integrate your animals' needs into your daily life by ensuring that pet beds, cages, fish tanks and crawling trees blend with the flow and style of your home. Depending on your style, you might find something appealing at postmodernpets.com or barkdeco.com. Try the Lotus Cat Tree or the wicker litter box from dogbedworks.com or petsnap.com

If your animal enjoys the great outdoors, you may want to consider a pet door for easy access in and out. Make sure your yard offers a cool, shady spot for those occasional (and much needed) cat, rabbit and dog naps and keep it enclosed to keep your special family members safe from traffic and other hazards, including wildlife that may prey on them. An outdoor bird aviary is perfect for milder climates and adds a touch of elegance to your garden.

A Room with a View: Lucky for us humans, many of our pets' special homes serve as more than just a place for them to hang their hats, so to speak, and can actually accentuate the aesthetics of our homes. The light, color and movement of a beautiful glass tank filled with azure water can reflect surrounding room light and highlight the bright colors of the exotic tropical fish that zip and zag about inside it. The rustic charm of an antique rabbit hutch might be the perfect anchor for a terrace or porch corner. A whimsical bird cage hanging gracefully from the ceiling can add vertical visual interest to a room. As evidenced by the items available through some of the websites listed above, the choices for stylish pet homes have exploded in recent years, so you no longer have to limit your choices to cheap plastic tubes in gaudy colors but can actually choose pet homes that enhance your existing decor.

So as you make plans to redesign or redecorate your home, remember all the warmth and comfort your pets bring to your life and make a commitment to find ways to make them warm and comfortable, too.
About the Author
Kaja Gam offers interior design in New York. Recently featured on HGTV.com, Kaja is famous for designing rooms that are comfortable, functional and make a distinct statement about your personality. Sign up for Kaja's free e-zine today at http://www.kajagamdesign.com.
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