Young fluffy purebred golden retriever sitting on sofa in living

Living With Pets

“How do I make my home pet-friendly?” “Help! I’m running out of storage space.” Interior designers deal with these and many other questions every day. For the purposes of this article, we’re tackling the first one. “How do I make my home pet-friendly…”

How do you protect your walls? “Do they make clear wallpaper? Our Great Pyrenees spatters mud three feet up!”  Before you resort to laminating your walls, look into commercial grade vinyl wallpaper.  It’s super durable and can be scrubbed, and there are plenty of very affordable options. Plus, at 54” wide, it requires fewer pieces to cover the same amount of wall saving considerably on labor.

Pro Tip: When prepping the wall, paint stripes of color matching the predominant color of the wallpaper. Should the seams gap a little, you’ll be glad you did.

How do I get rid of that smell? “The carpet in our new house is thoroughly soiled and our pets are reacting. What should we do?”  Our pets’ noses are much more sensitive than ours, and even if you can’t smell anything after cleaning, they can. The best way to keep them from re-marking is to remove all the carpet and padding. When you’re down to the subfloor, seal it with a shellac-based primer. Use the real stuff not synthetic. Once it dries, lay down new carpet.  Don’t forget to treat walls and doors that have been marked as well. Once your pets can’t smell the prior animals’ handiwork, their incentive to replace the smell will be gone.

Pro Tip: You must have adequate ventilation and should wear a respirator when working with a shellac primer.  Additionally, do not allow any flame or potential source of ignition. This stuff is no joke.

What about a new floor? “What flooring should we consider that resists claw marks as well as pet stains?”  While porcelain or other tile is the traditional solution, we recommend luxury vinyl tile or plank (LVT).  Both budget friendly and with many attractive options, LVT is impervious to liquid and solid accidents and holds up very well against even large canine claws. Getting one with more texture not only helps make it feel more like wood, but aids with traction.

Pro Tip: LVT tends to be much lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than laminate flooring; however still insist on a low or no VOC product.

What about furniture? “We allow our pets on the furniture, what is the best fabric choice?”   That depends on what kind of pets you have and what they do to your furniture. Shedding?  Slick nylon blankets allow fur to be shaken off seconds before guests arrive. Cats kneading?  Individual cats like different things, but a high-quality synthetic suede (88% polyester,12% polyurethane) is among the most resilient and statistically least attractive (to the cat) option. General soil and stain? There are a range of performance fabrics that feel and look great.  Crypton, a particularly popular brand of fabric (, even brings rescue dogs in to demonstrate how pet friendly its product is.

Pro Tip: Avoid using Scotchgard. Its older formulation was banned, and most people don’t know the new one only lasts six months and must be reapplied outdoors.

What about rugs?  “My pets mark every soft surface. I can’t constantly clean my rugs.”  We recently had a client with a dog and two children where a traditional rug was not feasible.  We sourced a vinyl floor cloth (very low VOC) rather than a traditional rug for the dining room. This gave the client the color and pattern desired on the floor and the dog, the kids and even the robotic vacuum can all live with it in harmony.

Pro Tip: We had to rescue that robotic vacuum one day from a blanket with a long fringe border.  Before buying your own robotic housekeeper, you might want to consider what could have happened if that fringe had been attached to an antique Persian rug.

By Yaron Linett of

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