You don’t have to compromise on luxury to incorporate your pets into living room designs.
While animals and upholstery don’t typically mix, some heavy performance materials and tricks to camouflage the dog bowl and chew toys can ensure your living space is pet-friendly and stylish.
Wool and crypton take sofas from scratching pads to durable living room anchors, wicker baskets hide unwanted odds and ends, and a built-in furniture drawer conceals pet food.
“Luxury living now means we can enjoy our pets and at the same time enjoy our luxurious homes,” said New York City-based interior designer Amy Lau of Amy Lau Design. “Rich and sophisticated performance textiles and rugs are available now that are stain and fade-resident. Perfect for standing up daily usage to pets, kids and late night wine spills.”
We asked a select group of designers to weigh in on pet-friendly materials and how to style them in the living room.
Think liveable luxury with performance fabrics
“For living spaces, we always like to know whether or not a client’s four-legged children are going to be jumping on a dog bed, and we put it into the furniture layout. We love using Perennials Fabrics from fiber technology and solution-dyed acrylic fibers. We’ll have entire sofas upholstered in them and ottomans so that you don’t freak out if someone has a dog that sleeps on it or if you spill wine. We’ve even done custom dog crates.
“We love anything that’s washable. We do a lot of washable throws in our design made out of knit material you can throw in the wash and feel comfortable snuggling with your pet. It’s not dry-clean only. Wool is a really great material. A wool rug is easy to clean and it’s antimicrobial. If you buy a rug that’s 100% wool, you can get anything on it, take it to the rug cleaner and they can clean it with shampoo and water and get anything out. Now a lot of fabrics have built-in performance solutions like crypton to use for pillows. And faux suede is a super durable fabric for the couch.”
— Carolina V. Gentry, principal interior designer and co-owner of Pulp Design Studios in Dallas and Seattle
Designate pet-friendly areas with design
“Natural fibers always work, especially wool, inherently water, stain and fire-resistant. But this next generation of performance fabrics makes true indoor and outdoor living pet and family friendly. We suggest targeting the furniture pieces you know will be the most used and upholstering them in a next-generation performance material for that extra layer of protection. Shedding, playing, eating treats and wet faces from fresh drinks always end up on our furniture, no matter how much training we have in place. Wipe ability and stain removal are keys to success. Great Plains by Holly Hunt and Perennials by David Sutherland are go-to sources for performance materials. A little extra protection is to have Fiber Seal come and apply a protectant onto fabrics to make them easier to clean if stains happen.
“We also love convenience, and in my kitchen, I had my contractor carve a little space from the adjoining closet to create a food drawer for [my dog] Biscuit’s bowls. They easily stow away when guests come and keep the area fresh and clean. It’s an excellent solution for hiding his bowls, and right above is his closet filled with his leash, bones, toys and food. Everything Biscuit needs is in one place and easily accessible.”
— Kendall Wilkinson, designer at Kendall Wilkinson Design, San Francisco
Camouflage Is key
“I have two dogs now. I have a brown sofa, and I always have the dogs up on one of the cushions. I bought a chocolate-colored towel from The Company Store, they have hundreds of colors. It’s tucked really tight into the cushion so it looks like it’s a fuzzy accent and everyone’s is like, ‘wait, what’s that?’ It blends in, you don’t see it immediately, it saves my expensive sofa and it doesn’t look terrible.
“I also have two big wicker baskets next to each other. I put all the toys in there. One is low enough for them [the dogs] to grab toys from the inside, and you don’t see the toys immediately. It’s such a great fix to make toys go away. Then, I made this navajo rug into a big pillow so it sits on the floor in front of my fireplace and looks like someone can sit in front of the fire, but it’s really for my dogs, but you’d never know it.”
— Ashley Darryl, an interior designer at Ashley Darryl Interiors, New York City
Chew-proof furniture with easy access
“I adopted my dog, Coco, when she was four or five, so she was through the puppy stage but still needed to get acquainted with her new house and having accidents. If you have a young puppy, you may have to deal with a chewing stage. Rather than furniture with wooden legs, you may opt for furniture with metal framing. This will help curb your pup’s desire to chew.
“As someone who loves vintage, antiques and pieces that tell a story, I think naturally tanned leather is a great option for pets. 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. We have a cognac-colored, leather sofa that has seen more than a few incidents and scratch-to-get-comfortable sessions, and it looks rich, warm and beautiful in the space. It’s also super easy to vacuum off all the dog hair.
“For pets that have a hard time jumping as they age, you’ll want to invest in solutions that make hopping on the sofa and bed a bit easier. At one point, I had pet stairs for little Coco, but they were such an eyesore and I stubbed my toe on them regularly. Two key things I’ve learned that make it easier for a pup jump are traction and shorter hops. For my bed and sofa we’ve added a low ottoman to enable an easy path. Rugs can also help create traction, which makes Coco feel more stable and safe when popping up.”
— Alessandra Wood, the vice president of style at Modsy, San Francisco