Home & Garden

Use decorative items to integrate pets into home

In my next life, I want to come back as Skippy, the Pomeranian rescued from the pound by Nancy, our store manager.

Before the ink was dry on the adoption papers, Skippy went from pauper to prince and is now the most pampered canine on the planet. He sleeps on a miniature bed, drinks from a crystal bowl and has his own monogrammed throw blanket for afternoon naps. But Skippy earns his kibble as our unofficial store dog. He's so good at wowing our customers that they ask for him by name.

Since our pets are such an important part of our lives, why not incorporate them into your home decorating? Here are a few ideas on how to celebrate your furry friends in your decor without sacrificing style.

Fine dining

My kittens, Couscous and Smoke, eat in the kitchen, so I decided to create an attractive feeding station for them that added to the ambiance of the space instead of being an eyesore. I started with a footed silver tray and topped it with blue and white porcelain bowls for food and water. The tray not only makes the station look beautiful, it catches spills so they don't end up on the floor.

A friend of mine is just as crazy about her dogs and decor as I am. So when she accidentally broke the lid to her antique soup tureen, she decided to repurpose the tureen base as a dog food bowl.

Likewise, dig through your cupboard for trays, dishes, bowls, compotes or tureens you could use as adorable food dishes for your pet. Or scout for inexpensive pieces at garage sales and flea markets.

Sweet dreams

Since Couscous and Smoke like to sleep in the kitchen, I put a cat bed under the table to discourage them from snoozing on the upholstered dining chairs. I found these fabulous pet beds that look like real wrought-iron beds. They came with removable cushions, so I covered mine with a slipcover made of washable decorative fabric that looked great in my kitchen. When the cover gets dirty, I just toss it in the wash. For an added splash, put your pet's name or monogram on the slipcover.

If your pet prefers to snooze on your sofa or bed, get a pretty throw blanket that looks great with your upholstery or bedding and put it on the spot where your pet sleeps to protect the fabric below. Pick a fabric color that blends with the pet's hair so you don't have to wash the blanket quite as often.

Some pets like to nap in lots of different places, in which case I'd recommend investing in durable but attractive upholstery that matches the pet's hair color and is tough enough to withstand your pet's claws. No matter what upholstery fabric you use, treat it with stain repellent.

Stylish storage

Today's spoiled pets have more stuff than you can shake a stick at, but you can store their ample accessories in style. Toss chew toys into attractive trunk baskets. Use pretty containers like apothecary jars, candy dishes or compotes to hold treats, medications and brushes. Hang a cute hook by your back door to hold your dog's leash.

Also hunt for inventive ways to camouflage your pet's unsightly gear. Hide the litter box in a ceramic planter, or put a fabric throw over the dog kennel and treat it like a side table.

Decorate for the dogs

Since our home decor should tell visitors a bit about us, include images of your favorite pets in your interior design. Add in a needlepoint accent pillow of a cat or dog. Include an animal figurine in a tabletop tableau. Or celebrate your favorite pet in your artwork. A friend who loves dogs blanketed the walls of her powder room with a collection of dog-themed artwork. Another brightened up her laundry room, where her dogs' bowls are kept, with oil paintings of dogs.