Have Pets? Here’s How to Keep Your Home Looking Stylish

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

They say that a dog is man’s best friend, but having a pet can wreak some serious havoc on your interior design game. From hopping on your pristine couch to chewing on the leg of your dinner table, even the most house-trained pets don’t know how to care properly for your home.

Nobody wants to live in a space that’s half-chewed up or covered in dirt, but what’s the alternative? Getting rid of precious Fido? Absolutely not!

The good news is having a pet and stylish home aren’t mutually exclusive. Turns out, you just need know how to design your place with your dog (Or cat! Or rabbit! Or hamster) in mind. To help, we asked two interior design experts—who also have their own pets—how to build a pet-approved abode.

1. Material Girl

Velvet, suede, and canvas may look nice, but they’re no match for your furry friend. Instead, opt for durable, easy-to-clean materials like leather.

“As someone who loves vintage, antiques, and pieces that tell a story, I think naturally tanned leather is a great option for pets,” says Alessandra Wood, interior design expert, vice president of style at Modsy, and proud dog mom of Coco, a chihuahua and Jack Russell mix. “This is not a good option for Type-A personalities who want perfection but, like an amazing leather handbag, a sofa can age beautifully, too.”

Not only does leather look better with some wear and tear, but it’s also super easy to remove stray pet hair.

2. Rug Renaissance

As much as you adore your pet, there’s no denying you have to make some sacrifices to have him or her. Not only do you have to get home at a certain hour to walk and feed your furry friend, but you also have to make some compromises with your interior design. No luxurious rugs or couches, right?

Well, not quite.

“I notice a lot of my clients think that having a pet means foregoing luxury [rugs] and opting instead for synthetic, cost-effective alternatives that are easy to replace,” says Caitlin Murray, founder of Black Lacquer Design and mother to a cocker spaniel named Color. “There are tons of other options, though! Wool, for example, is a very pet-friendly material that also adds a rich, chic texture to a space.”

If you’re in the market for a rug that you can easily replace, but isn’t cheap, opt for an indoor-outdoor style.

“They are incredibly durable and are sold in an unbelievable assortment of colors, patterns, and textures,” she adds. “Look for ones that not only fit into your existing color palette but will also help mask your pet’s hair.”

3. A Clean Slate

Speaking of pet hair, your little friend sheds—a lot. And if you’re obsessed with keeping your home as organized and tidy as possible, it’s important to invest in a quality vacuum. Actually, two of them.

“Dog hair and dust bunnies can make even the most beautifully designed space feel dingy and dirty,” Wood explains. “Invest in two vacuums: One big one for weekly deep cleanings and a smaller, rechargeable, handheld one to quickly vacuum during the week. Make it part of your routine so your home feels fresh and clean all the time.”

4. Out Of The Darkness

We’re going to let you in on a little secret: While darker colors have always seemed like an easy way to mask the inevitable red wine stain or spilled Chinese takeout, they’re not as conducive with our pets as you’d think.

“People always think that dark fabrics and rugs are the key to hiding dirt and spills, but they can weigh down your room and sometimes show off certain stains,” Wood shares. “Instead of trying to mask potential accidents with dark colors opt for a multi-color patterned rug—an overdyed one is great.”

Patterns, Wood adds, will help mask any accidental spills or stains and add some personality to your home.

But while dark hues aren’t as helpful as you think, Wood recommends staying clear of light colors for upholstered items. Bright fun shades like cherry red or aqua strike a happy medium.

5. Design Dog Bed

Perhaps the biggest design woe that comes with owning a pet is figuring out what to do with all of their accessories. It doesn’t matter how cute your dog or cat is, their chew toys, scratching trees, and dog beds are far from chic.

Fortunately, there are plenty of practical, stylish pet accessories on the market—you just need to know where to find them.

“Since an ugly dog bed can really be an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful home, I often search for alternative options on Etsy because there is a much wider assortment there than on more traditional pet sites,” Murray explains. “Serena + Lily and Pottery Barn also have more design-friendly options.” (And check out our list of the best dog beds for even more great picks.)

Another way to keep your pet’s things from cramping your style is to create a single area to place all its toys and accessories.

“Have a place you can pick up and store dog toys,” Wood says. “Coco has a plush, little igloo where she can safely hide and snuggle, and we also use it as a place to put all her toys. She knows where to find them when she’s excited, and so does her cousin who visits regularly.”

Now all you need to do is train your pet to put the toys back where they belong…