Haute Dog Decor
Modern pet furniture is stylish and sophisticated. Here’s why
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
My dogs have leopard-print beds scattered throughout the house — although at night they sleep on our bed — hand-thrown pottery water bowls designed to keep their ears dry, and steps up to the furniture in prints that complement my decor. If I were a more indulgent, or wealthy, dog owner, they might have antique pooch pagodas or spaniel-size Empire sofas, just a couple of examples of how pet furniture and accessories have become more sophisticated and attractive as dogs and cats have cemented their position as full-fledged family members.
Spending on pets has risen steadily every year, even during the last recession. After food and veterinary care, the third largest spending category is supplies, including items such as furniture, carriers and toys. Pet owners spent $16.01 billion on beds, collars, leashes, toys and other accessories, up 6% from 2017.
“Americans are radically changing in terms of how we understand the pet’s overall well-being,” says architect Heather Lewis of Animal Arts Design Studios in Boulder, Colorado. “They’re also concerned about their animals’ emotional well-being. Pet furnishings make sense in that context. We want to have more comfortable furnishings for our pets. We want to give our cats more options to be able to climb up the wall and get to high places. We want to have comfortable pet beds that are better for the orthopedic concerns our older dogs might have. We want to have furnishings that our pets enjoy using. I think all of those things are driving a certain amount of this.”
Human enjoyment and well-being are factors, too. It’s pleasurable to have a home that is comfortable and looks nice. That’s another reason pet product manufacturers have upped their game. Pets, unlike kids, don’t have their own rooms; they share all of our living spaces so their stuff — beds, crates, scratching posts, litter boxes, toys — is found throughout the house. If we can have nicer options for those things, especially if they meet our overall design aesthetic, we are happier and more content in our environment.
Take pet lover Betsy Clagett of Poulsbo, Washington, who lives with Labrador retrievers, cavalier King Charles spaniels
and two Persian cats.
“I love products that are well-made and stylish,” she says. “There are so many new materials today that we never had in the past and also designs that work for your pet, but also fit into home decor. I think many of the products are much more functional than they used to be.”
Pet owners are also keeping pets in mind when they build or remodel homes. They may include a pet bathing area in the laundry room or mud room, litter boxes that slide out from cabinets or built-in crates, custom cat enclosures, dog doors framed with molding that matches the rest of the home, or stair elevators for pets who are elderly or have physical disabilities.
When we replaced the carpet on our stairs with wood, we had the installer cut one of the steps so that the top slid forward, allowing us to store leashes and other pet paraphernalia inside it. Lewis, who is currently building her own home, has designed a “garage” for her dogs’ crates.
Another trend that may be driving pet product design is minimalism. Reducing the amount of clutter in your home may make you take a hard look at what remains, whether it’s your own stuff or belongs to your pets. Is it attractive? Does it spark joy?
“In these beautiful, more minimalist homes, every object has to have its own design and purpose in the space,” Lewis says. “If you have a pet bed, you can’t just have something you picked up at Costco. You actually have to enjoy looking at it on the floor. So I think that’s driving it as well.”
PHOTO CAPTION:From hideaways to toys to beds and other furnishings, pet products have come a long way in terms of design.