I'll admit it: I bought my house (and my couch, and my rugs, and much of my wardrobe) for my dogs. Or, at least, with them in mind. When my husband and I have two cars, one is always the dedicated "dog car" — something that our dog trainer says is just one of many criteria that instantly identifies us as "dog enthusiasts," a growing majority of pet owners who integrate their animals into every aspect of their lifestyle and the choices they make for their families. Because our pets are family, too.
Research shows that more and more of us are making not just lifestyle but real estate decisions — even choosing which city to live in — based on our dogs (and cats, and even birds and bunnies). This week, The New York Times ran a story — penned by Apartment Therapy contributor Caroline Biggs — featuring a handful of pet owners whose love for their animals drives not only their design choices for domestic interiors but, in one next-level case, how to best use their real estate portfolio to benefit their pets. Caroline created a beautiful bunny habitat in the spare closet of her city apartment. At the other end of the spectrum, another woman gave her animals an entire 650-square-foot condo to call their very own.
For decades, it has been common for pet owners to create space for their dogs in a mudroom or finished basement, even making upgrades to the design or decor in order to make their pets safer or more comfortable, to make cleanup more efficient, or to keep messes to a minimum. Some of the most popular home renovation ideas on Pinterest for the past few years running reflect that, often involving mud rooms or laundry rooms with dedicated dog-washing stations, and Yahoo recently ran a story that some new-construction developments are even adding "pet suites" as a standard home amenity.
And while it might boggle the minds of some urban dwellers, whose every square inch of real estate is at a premium, it's not that unusual for pet owners with larger homes and multiple animals to move their crates/cages into a spare room — some might say those rooms are just as beneficial to our health & wellness (or clutter management) as a dedicated fitness room or craft room. How we decorate and design our homes elucidates where our passions lie, no? (I know personally, as the foster coordinator for our local greyhound rescue, I drool over spare room ideas like this.)
But is giving that extra space to our pets just another signal of American excess? Is it more simply, as The New York Times points out, a problem when such devotion can create a ding in your property value? Or is it a smart way to contain potential damage to a single area to renovate when the time comes to sell — all while letting your pets "live their best lives," as we pet enthusiasts say?
Here on Apartment Therapy, we've recently featured home design upgrade ideas from "catios" to other serious DIYs for cat lovers, an 11-foot raised platform bed to fit one couple and all seven of their pets, and two adorable under-stair puppy rooms — including one with a teeny brass bed and place to hang a hat.
So the question is: How far would you go to customize your home as the perfect habitat for not only you and your family, but for your pets, too? If you don't have a pet but want to see just how quickly your thoughts might change when you do, read editor Adrienne Breaux's recent piece about her new pup, Stanley: 4 Things No One Warned Me About Before I Adopted a Dog.