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    Pet-friendly designers help people and animals live more harmoniously in a beautiful environment. Photo: Phillips Collection

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    New York City designer Julia Szabo is author of Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot's Digs Stylish & Spotless and Animal House Style.

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    When it comes to pet-friendly design, recognize your environment from their perspective. Photo: Cliff Spencer Furniture Maker

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    Suzanne Lasky is a owner of S Interior Design and Pawprint Design Services in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Suzanne Lasky is a owner of S Interior Design and Pawprint Design Services in Scottsdale, Ariz.


The Best Choices for Pet-Friendly Design

Our pet design experts, Julia Szabo, author of Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot's Digs Stylish & Spotless, and Suzanne Lasky, owner of Pawprints Design Services, offer these tips on making your home both stylish and pet friendly:

Upholstery Fabrics 

  • Good: microfiber, leather, slipcovers
  • Best: Crypton® and matelasse


  • Good: laminate, distressed wood
  • Best: cork, carpet tiles


  • Good: cleanable or dark-colored flat paint
  • Best: sheens (eggshell or satin), zero-VOC formulas



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  • Room for Rover

    Learn how you can have a home that's both beautiful and pet-friendly.

    by Jennifer Sellers

    What has four legs and sits in front of your sofa?

    No, it’s not your coffee table; it’s Fido or Fluffy! And, frankly, they’re much more likely to be on your sofa than next to it.

    If you’re like many Americans, you have pets living in your home. And as much as these loveable canines and felines can be valued family members, they aren’t the neatest housemates. Fortunately, there are several easy ways you can update your home’s design so you and your critters (and your furniture) can live in harmony.


    The Décor Whisperers

    We talked to two top designers in the pet-friendly décor world, and they both offer this tip for pet owners: Design your home with your pet's needs in mind.

    "Recognize your environment from their perspective," says Suzanne Lasky, owner of S Interior Design and Pawprint Design Services in Scottsdale, Ariz., "Their nature is hard-wired. My goal is always to make a home as stress-free as possible for both humans and pets. If the pets are happy, they'll behave better and you'll have less issues and destruction. To achieve this, you must consider what their point of view is.

    "For instance, if you put up drapes over a window the dog or cat was used to looking out of, heck yeah they'll destroy your window treatments," continues Lasky, who studied animal psychology to enhance her understanding of shared environments. "To them, it's not about the window treatments; it's about their view and their world. Another example is when you put fragile items somewhere where your cat jumps. Cats jump everywhere. That's part of their nature; you're not going to change that. That's why they make those cat condos. As unattractive as they are, they're there for a reason. Buy something like that, and you can shove it away when company comes over."

    New York City designer Julia Szabo, who is author of Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot's Digs Stylish & Spotless and Animal House Style, says that one of the main reasons she got into pet-oriented design was to help reduce the number of pets abandoned to animal shelters. "I started noticing that many people would give up their pets because they wrecked the furniture," she says. "I thought, 'It's not their fault; it's your fault for not picking the right furniture.' I just wanted a way to make a dent in the unnecessary euthanasia of animals that goes on. I believe that helping humans live more harmoniously with their animals will help with that."

    Lasky, too, spends a lot of time working with abandoned animals. One of the main organizations she works with is the Lost Our Home Pet Foundation, which rescues pets displaced by their owners' home foreclosures.

    "I'd say about nine out of 10 of my clients have pets," says Lasky, a dog owner. "Some don't want their homes to show evidence of pets, and I understand that. Others don't mind the quirks that come with having pets around, but they want less work. That's fine, too. A designer who understands people and pets can help make living with your pet more enjoyable. I like to look at the reality of how a person lives with their pets.

    "Pet-friendly design is not just about designing a pretty pet bed to coordinate with the rest of the home's fabrics," Lasky continues. "I can do that, but there's so much more I can help you with."

    Szabo, who has many cats and dogs of her own,  also points out that pet-friendly design doesn't have to be boring, utilitarian or sterile. "There are ways to accommodate pets that aren't tacky," she says. "You can be discerning and uncompromising in your quest for stylish furnishings because these days there are chic options that didn't exist in the past. At the same time, you can carve out space for your pets and let the pets be with you. After all, a house without them isn't a home."