Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Size: 1100 sqft. 2-bdrm condo
Lived in: 1.5 years
Kate of moderncat.net — a blog about making your home a modern mecca with your cats in mind — would have loved to attend our pet design meetup earlier this month. But, even a die-hard fan would admit that Phoenix is a little too far away to warrant the trip! So, the next best thing is a virtual house tour of her 2-bedroom condo in Arizona....
Kate has six indoor cats! So, her home can't help but be a space that caters to pets. Along the way, with a priority of making the space comfortable for herself as well as her cats, Kate has managed to incorporate her gang of felines in a very modern and sleek, yet comfortable setting.
Style: Having purchased this condo from the original owner, the place came covered in 1971 vintage wallpaper, some of which is fabulous. The main decorating cues came from the brown and gold wallpaper in the living room, which set the tone for a retro-mod-swank Hollywood Regency style, perfect for many of my vintage furniture finds. When living with multiple cats, a minimal decorating style makes life easier (less things to knock over during crazy chase time) and helps make the small space seem larger, too.
Inspiration: Without a doubt, I've been inspired by Julia Szabo's classic book Animal House Style, which promotes the idea of designing your home to accommodate your pets. This is especially important when living with indoor cats. And, because I'm inspired by the beauty and elegance of cats, I like to find ways to showcase them in the environment. It was important for me to integrate lots of cat-proof surfaces for them to lounge on, as well as scratching surfaces (other than the vintage furniture, of course). However, I didn't want my place to look like a zoo or, worse yet, the crazy cat lady's house, so I looked to modern architecture and design for ideas.
Favorite Element: When I'm at home, it's important for me to spend time with the cats, so I gave careful consideration to seating, working, and sleeping arrangements. Wherever I am, there is a surface nearby designated for a cat or two.
The focal point of the living room is a four-foot-square platform coffee table. I knew this would be a favorite lounging and playing surface, so I had a piece of tempered glass cut to protect the vintage finish. It's a good thing, too, as there are almost always a couple of cats on the table.
Biggest Challenge: There are so many challenges when living in a small space with this many cats! Litter is always an issue — dealing with odor and tracking is an ongoing battle. Keeping washable bathmats in front of the litter box helps to make clean-up a bit easier.
Another challenge: keeping the floors clean. I chose to install wall-to-wall off-white carpet — quite luxurious and very much in keeping with the Hollywood Regency style. Most people think I'm crazy, but with regular vacuuming and frequent use of my Bissell SpotBot, amazingly, it still looks like new.
What Friends Say: I have had people comment on how well the cats fit into the environment and how happy and friendly they seem. It's as if they feel right at home and enjoy showing-off their place.
Biggest Embarrassment: The litter situation is really the bane of my existence. I hate to admit it, but I have given over the master bathroom to the cats. A large storage box resides in the shower area and I shower in the guest bathroom. The cats really do own the house.
Proudest DIY: My cats are indoor only, but I have always wished that they could have a protected outdoor space. I am in the process of enclosing the back patio area to create a "catio," an enclosed outdoor space suitable for cats. Once complete, this will be my greatest DIY project to date — a cat paradise, with climbing shelves, a garden of cat grass, and an outdoor litter box. I will also include just enough human seating that I can enjoy the space with them.
Biggest Indulgence: I have splurged on some high-end cat products like a Moderncritter bentwood scratcher, a Pod Bed from Hepper Home, a Sweet Lounge cardboard lounge/scratcher from Marmalade Pet Care, and a tall cat condo from Modern Cat Designs. These products are not typical throw-away pet items; they are more like high-quality furniture. All of them fit beautifully into my home, and each one is a conversation piece. There are several other companies like these that are making high-quality, well-designed cat products that will last for years. These products are well worth the investment.
Best Advice: Cat proof all surfaces, because if the cats can go there, they will. Tempered glass is a great way to protect delicate furniture finishes.
Cats like to have small spaces to hide in, but I tried to eliminate hiding spaces where I couldn't reach the cats in an emergency. I chose a platform sofa and bed for this reason.
If you have older cats, they may have a hard time jumping up onto a regular bed or sofa. Choosing a low-slung design will accommodate your aging kitty.
If you have a paper eater like I do, keep all mail and other papers safely out of reach. Covered toilet paper roll holders can also prevent cats, and especially kittens, from unraveling the whole roll.
Give your cats lots of toys to play with — small stuffed mice and foam balls are popular at my house. You probably don't want them scattered all over when guest come to visit, so get a decorative bowl or other container to stash the toys in and place it on the floor. It will keep the toys neat and accessible while adding a cat-friendly decorative element to your home.
If you have minimal storage space, it can be hard to find room to hide the cat carrier. Consider purchasing an attractive carrier that can be kept out and used as a bed. This has the added benefit of making the carrier a comfortable, familiar spot, making trips to the vet less stressful (on both cats and humans).
Provide some small spaces for kitty to curl-up in. If you don't have any built-in areas, there are lots of attractive pet beds available that will look great in a modern home.
Be creative! Look for interesting items that could be perfect for cat climbing and perching, such as footstools and side tables. Build some cat climbing shelves with simple materials from the hardware store and cover them with carpet tiles.
Enjoy living with your pets, spend time with them, and love them. If some element of your home is not working for both you and your pets, change it.