We’ve already covered how designing for pets doesn’t require sacrificing on style. In this follow-up article, we take a deeper dive into the products and materials that make pet-friendly interior design a possibility. From more traditional natural materials to lab-created innovations, designers have a surprisingly wide range of options when it comes to choosing furniture fixtures and equipment that are appropriate for animal roaming abodes.
Opt For Tenacious Textiles
All fabrics are not created equal when it comes to pet friendliness. For example, fabrics that easily collect pet hair and hold on to stains, like velvet and silk, are to be avoided. While wool is generally a good choice for animals, any looped texture that is easily pulled, like bouclé, is an irresistible draw for claws to get a little exercise. If you want to remain relaxed while your pet rests upon your beloved furnishings, fit them with highly durable fabrics that are stain resistant and simple to clean. Outdoor fabrics have come a long way in the last decade, with companies like Sunbrella and Bella Dura producing downright luxurious fabrics that look right at home in the plushest environments. In fact, the new term for these fabric types are “Indoor/Outdoor”, because they work so well in both environments. Both Sunbrella and Bella Dura offer products that can be bleach-cleaned and that are moisture repellant, minimizing the opportunity for mold. These deceptively soft synthetic fabrics are solution dyed, meaning the threads are dyed before the fabric is woven, maintaining the integrity of the colors through endless rounds of heavy duty cleaning.
If these Indoor/Outdoor fabrics are not subtle enough for a particularly delicate environment, Crypton fabrics are the perfect choice for a super soft, yet sturdy solution. High end textile go-tos such as Kravet, Thibaut, and Duralee all offer wide collections of prints and textures made with Crypton technology. Like Indoor/Outdoor fabrics, Crypton is moisture repellant and easy to clean, and even more stain resistant than Sunbrella fabrics. Another benefit of Crypton fabrics is they do not retain odors and the tight weave of the fibers make it almost impossible for pet claws to poke through and leave holes or tears. One of Crypton’s best features is that it’s Greenguard Certified, meaning its scientifically proven to meet the world’s highest chemical emissions standards—reducing indoor air pollution and chemical exposure and providing a safe and healthy environment for your entire family, four-legged friends included.
An alternative, Nanotex is a sub-brand of Crypton, which uses nanotechnology to make fabric even more stain resistant, moisture repellent, odor rejecting, and wrinkle reducing. It is also Greenguard certified, and is an excellent choice if you can find a suitable fabric from its smaller collection. We recommend Crypton fabrics over Teflon treated fabrics, like those from Chemours, which have similar durability properties but without the high health and safety ratings.
If you strongly prefer to use natural, untreated fibers for your textile selections, consider denim and canvas. The thick and tight weave make both options easy to spot clean and difficult for pets to tear into with their claws. Canvas slipcovers are also a smart solution for protecting furniture you want to preserve for formal occasions but be able to use casually the rest of the time.
Leathers and Pleathers and Plastics...Oh My!
Leather is a good choice for pet-owners, so long as you choose a finish designed to develop a natural patina—but an ultra-glossy finish on natural leather will be easily marred by scratches. Leather tends to be a better choice for dog owners versus cat owners, because cat claws are sharper and have a stronger protraction, making their leather piercing capability all too strong. Another thing to lookout for when choosing leather is whether or not it is eco-friendly. Most leathers are treated with harmful chemicals in their production process, and while it is currently considered safe to bring these products into home environments, there is a growing focus on the potential harm of living with chromium treated products. Consider more eco-friendly and non-toxic options to be on the safe side.
Pleather and other synthetic leather-like materials are a smart alternative to real leather, since they are easy to clean and are scratch resistant. Similarly, eco-friendly plastic and recycled material blends can be wonderful materials for a pet-friendly home for their durable and easy to clean characteristics. Kartell, Knoll, and Eames via Herman Miller all offer iconic furniture styles in plastic and poly-blends. For more ideas, check out these eco-friendly furniture designs that are so chic, they made it into the pages of interior design tastemaker, Architectural Digest.
Floors For Four-Legged Friends
As covered in our earlier article, wood flooring can work well for pets, so long as you are choosing amongst hardwoods with wide groove grains and a medium-low gloss finish, since they naturally swallow scratch marks. An ever better option is non-porous stone, like ceramic, which is relatively inexpensive and super easy to clean. Concrete is also pet-friendly, although a medium-low finish is preferred to a high gloss, which will be slippery for your pets and show their inevitable scratch marks.
Recently, a number of eco-friendly blends have hit the market, many of which are great choices for pet owners. Ceramica Continua is a continuous flooring option, meaning no visible joints, made from a blend of new and recycled ceramic. While the product includes an antibacterial compound, designed to help keep your home clean and odor free, it does not emit any harmful chemicals. OLEOMALTA® is another relatively new eco-friendly material made from a proprietary mixture of ingredients, such as sunflower oil. These tiles resemble natural stone and are highly durable, easy to clean, and safe for pets.
Needled Flooring is another option when designing for pets. These carpet tiles are made from densely pressed felt that animal claws can’t easily dig into. They are also easy to vacuum and suitable for high-traffic areas. While traditionally used in commercial settings, brands like Findeisen are making ultra-chic needled flooring tiles that look right at home in the finest residence.
Wall to Floor Coverings
When it comes to choosing pet-friendly wall and floor coverings, there are a few general rules of thumb to keep in mind. For one, go for area rugs over wall-to-wall carpeting (unless opting for the needled tiles). Also, choose rugs that can be vacuumed, spot-treated, and preferably ones that have a pattern that can hide the errant stubborn stain. As for walls, its best to avoid stark-white walls that show dirt and quickly look dingy without frequent cleaning.
With that in mind, you can go a step further by selecting eco-friendly paints that look high-end without any toxic emissions. Look for the zero-VOC label when perusing the paint aisles, which means the products are free of any volatile organic compounds that can have severe negative effects on human and pet health. Another option for walls is washable wallpaper. An interior design staple, Dedar, has a small, yet sophisticated collection of washable papers to choose from. Many smaller, boutique brands, like Wallpepper, have wide collections of eco-friendly, PVC free, washable wallpapers in solid colors and fun and funky patterns. For an elegant serenity, try Elisabeth Leroy’s Syros collection of waterproof wallpaper.
When designing for pets, choosing the right materials goes a long way in making your home an animal approved dwelling. However, there are a few more tips worth keeping in mind when making product selections. For starters, consider the size of your animal and its general habits. For example, a skinny floor lamp with a small base will get knocked over by a high-energy feline who likes to climb. A precariously balanced wall leaning desk wont work for a room where a bull mastiff likes to plop down for a rest. Hang art high off the ground, away from the swinging paws of curious pets. Also, research any plant before bringing one home, as some can dangerous to animals, and the scent of others may promote marking.
Between everything we covered on how designing for pets doesn’t require sacrificing on style and this deep-dive on pet-friendly materials and products, you are officially on your way to becoming every animal lover’s first choice of interior designer. To stay at the top of your game, be sure to remain current on new products that hit the market, always making use of innovations that promote health, safety, and sustainability. While durability is a key characteristic of pet-friendly décor, eco-friendly is a quality beneficial to all.