Interior Design That Improves Well-Being for You and Your Pet

Introducing the GOOD Guide to Smart Living with City Pets. This five part series, brought to you by GOOD in partnership with Purina...

Introducing the GOOD Guide to Smart Living with City Pets. This five part series, brought to you by GOOD in partnership with Purina ONE®, explores how pet owners can keep city pets happy, healthy, and balanced, so that pets enjoy being part of their community as much as their owners do. Check out more stories at GOOD Pets.

If you’re a pet owner living in the city, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about designing your living space? Whether it’s finding an apartment big enough or keeping furniture scratch-free, remember the feng shui principle that states that loving and respecting pets creates a stronger sense of well-being and happiness for the household. Therefore, adjusting your lifestyle to accommodate your pets’ needs will make cohabitation more harmonious. Here are some interesting ways pet owners have considered both dogs and cats when designing their personal spaces.

Preventative Basics

Training, grooming, and socializing your pet can minimize possible cohabitation conflicts in even the smallest apartments, but pet owners can also avoid any mishaps with simple preventative basics.

Both dogs and cats have a stronger sense of smell than humans and rely on their noses, whiskers, and paws to navigate, communicate, and understand their environments. That means they may use their paws to tip over trashcans or chew their owners’ belongings in order to process new scents or surroundings. Consider using a secure trashcan with a lock or lid and keep valuables in locked cabinets. Decrease clutter in your home and leave toys and treats in boxes so that pets aren’t encouraged to dig or scratch through your belongings in order to fulfill their hunting instincts.

To keep pet hair at bay, brush pets weekly, vacuum often, and avoid furniture fabrics like micro-suede, denim, flannel, corduroy, velvet, and wool. According to pet home designer Colleen Paige, fabrics like faux leather, blended polyester, acrylic, and silk attract less fur, while multi-colored fabrics conceal a variety of pet hair colors. Ultimately, keeping a sticky roller and pet stain remover on hand at all times are keys to keeping furniture intact.

If you have both cats and dogs, it’s important to give each the proper amount of space and attention as they get to know one another. Safety gates for dogs and high shelving or perches for cats are must-haves if you’d like your pets to understand boundaries and eventually have a more balanced relationship indoors.

Thinking Outside the Dog House (or Cat Box)

The size of your apartment matters when choosing pets. Depending on personality, some experience anxiety in enclosed spaces. Bob Walker, founder of The Cats’ House, says, “Space has to have form and function. It’s important not to think solely about square footage, but also cubic footage. So, you can create fun places for pets to play or rest in by filling negative spaces like the corner behind a television or the top of closets.” You can make the most of small quarters when you maximize spaces that would otherwise go unused.

Dogs have a natural desire to be a part of a pack, and therefore enjoy jumping on furniture or beds to be close to their owners. Create resting spots for your dogs close to favorite lounging areas in your home with pillows or upcycled furniture. If you’d like to get a little more creative, try building Torafu Architects’ DIY Wanmock with an old well-made T-shirt.

Photo from Architecture for Dogs

Because cats like being near their owners in warm places (for example, on top of your computer), try creating a nesting spot that utilizes less space in your place by attaching a small bed to the side of your desk, so that you can still stay productive and fulfill your pets’ need for attention.

Photo of Kitt-in Box from The Refined Feline

Many cat owners complain about their cats scratching their furniture, not realizing that cats scratch to mark their territory, stretch their bodies, play, and communicate dominance. In addition to dispersing scratching posts throughout your home to avoid damage to furniture, consider the fact that cats need to expend their energy in other ways as well. Although some cat owners have gotten creative by practically creating gymnasiums in their homes with shelves, catwalks, and tunnels along the walls, there are also simpler ways to add environmental interest. Consider moving chairs next to bookshelves for climbing areas, hanging dangling toys off of perches, or putting a bird feeder outside so they can watch birds from a window.

Photo of Asahi Kasei’s Plus-Nyan Home from Haus Panther

Pets sleep about 13 hours a day. Dogs need to rest in den-like spaces, which you can create by adding thick blankets or a pillow to the bottom of a closet or in the corner of a dark room. You can also build a wooden crate or kennel with a blanket so that the dog has even more privacy. Encourage pets to enter the space by adding a water dish and treats to the area. To add style to your pet’s private space, try Homemade Modern’s DIY geometric wooden doghouse or get inspired to create a combined scratching post and clubhouse, like this modern cathouse by Leo Kempf. If you have money to spend and you’re not into the DIY phenomenon, Denhaus creates interesting crates that serve as not only darker private spaces, but also furniture pieces that blend well into décor.

Photo from Denhaus

Ultimately, as a pet owner, keeping your pets engaged, active, and comfortable will make your living space the most harmonious that it can be.

This is part five of five in the GOOD Guide to Smart Living with City Pets.

Illustration by Zoe Zoe Sheen


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