Creating 'Pet-Friendly' Spaces Offer Unique Possibilities, Designers Say

Has kitchen design gone to the dogs? The answer, somewhat surprisingly, is yes. After all, for many petloving clients, their furry friends are considered an important part of the family. So, why not design a space that works for them, as well?
That's the belief of Judy Pepper, owner of Pepper Design Associates, in Arvada, CO, who notes that it takes more than simply setting out a dog dish to create a special pet area.

"There was a kitchen design we did for a family where we created a mud room that had a dog run with a little entrance and a dog door. There were tiles on the floors and walls and water right there so that the homeowner could clean mud off the dog's paws. Also, the pet food was right there as you entered the kitchen, so it was very convenient," she explains.
Pamela Monaco, owner/principal designer for Whole House Cabinetry, in Glenmore, PA, feels that the mud room concept can be taken even further. "In the mud room, have a sink low to the floor where you can clean their feet and a dryer to quickly dry their feet."

Monaco even cites a design with a timer on the door so that the dogs could open the door and the floor would automatically flood with water, washing their feet. Then, the water would drain and the air would come up to dry them, after which the door to the rest of the house would open.

Both Pepper and Monaco have used pullout drawers to create feeding areas, and Monaco adds, "A pocket door or a lift-up door will also help conceal the pet's food."

Steven Erenrich, designer for Patete Kitchen and Bath Design Center in Carnegie, PA concurs. "Several times, I've had to design a space for dishes and large areas for pet food and even a dog bed. Of course, the dog bed would be out of the way in a desk area, because the last thing you want is the dog to be underfoot," he explains.
Erenrich has used "a two-way flip door that is integrated with a prime door in the house so that the dog can let itself in or out."

Cat doors, too, can be neatly incorporated into a design, and Monaco reports having once designed a custom-made cat door to match the home's French doors.

According to Pepper, it is also possible to incorporate a doggie design into the overall feel of a family kitchen. "We did an oversized place mat for one dog, because it was a large pet. The place mat was laminated and it had matching draperies. It also made cleanup very easy," she adds.

Erenrich adds," I recall a design where we draped a dog eating area. There was some open space in the kitchen cabinetry, so by draping it, we concealed the dog dishes and water bowl. That way, the clients just needed to pull the drapes shut after they filled up each bowl and the dog could just stick its head through the curtain."

And there are still other elements that can be added to a kitchen to make it dog friendly, says Monaco.
"Heated floors will keep a constant temperature and make it comfortable for pets that are going to lay around," she offers.
But what about the client who wants a pet motif in their space?
For Monaco, a self-described animal lover, the possibilities are endless. "I would suggest a natural theme with woods and wild animals. Or, designers could use tiles that have pets' paw prints [stamped into] the tile," she concludes.
—Kitchen & Bath Design News March, 2003