Pamper Your Pooch

And your cats. New products and designs camouflage signs of pets while letting them live like kings and queens.




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Diane Krapf’s Coco, of Greenville, enjoys her wrought-iron canopy bed. (photograph by Tom Nutter,

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Nothing is too good for Coco, a Yorkshire terrier-Bichon Frise mix who clearly is the apple of owner Diane Krapf’s eye. So when it came time to buy a new bed for her little princess, Krapf could not resist the fanciful creation she spotted in a catalogue.

“It’s this elaborate bed made of wrought iron,” says Krapf, of Greenville. “It’s like a canopy bed without the fabric.” And when it comes to dining, Coco’s bowls would never sit on a dog bone-shaped plastic mat. “She has a French country placemat,” Krapf says, a “real one.”

Coco is in good company. Consumer spending on pets more than doubled from $17 billion in 1994 to an estimated $38.4 billion in 2006, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. While some of those dollars went to food and veterinary care, a growing amount went toward luxury items for the home.

“It’s going to be a big market,” says Rosemarie Dodd Giroso, owner of Rose Authentica in Wilmington. “People are just totally in love with their animals right now.”

Edward Girardi of Edward Girardi Interiors in Wilmington agrees. “I’m seeing it more and more.”

Why are people showering their pets with home accessories? “A lot of people are sending their kids to college,” says Lindsay Burns, owner of Trolley Square Pet Store in Wilmington. “They don’t have their kids at home but they have their animals, so they’re spending more money on them.”

Manufacturers have responded with an assortment of products that let owners indulge their pets. But the variety has another advantage. No longer are the hipsters stuck with plaid L.L. Bean-style bedding and metal bowls with embossed paw prints. Now they can choose from French Country and contemporary accessories.


Dog bed available at Barbara Goodman Designs


“If a customer has a certain interior design, we can match it,” says Burns. Krapf could complement Coco’s wrought-iron bed, for instance, with a wrought-iron raised feeder, available at Burns’ store.

 Barbara Goodman Cresswell of Barbara Goodman Designs in Greenville offers “gourmet” dining tables made of copper and mahogany. Forget plastic or metal bowls. Instead, treat your pet to marble bowls, which nestle inside an iron feeder. Is your decor more Country Living than Ballard Designs? Burns can order wooden feeders in light colors.

For cat-lovers whose taste runs to the exotic, Burns sells dark-wood window perches for cats. The perches come with leopard-print pillows, which are a far cry from standard versions covered in beige carpet. Pet cages are also getting the glam treatment. Burns sells pretty patterned covers to conceal cages when the dogs are set free.

Speaking of crates and cages, Solutions catalog touts a solid wood dog crate that resembles a Mission-style end table. The retailer also offers a litter box disguised as a potted plant. Kitty enters the box from a hole cut near the pot’s base. Simply turn the opening so it’s not visible. No one will be the wiser.

Pottery Barn, meanwhile, recently began selling stand-alone shelving units that rise above a built-in dog bed. The beds come complete with colorful striped mattresses. The shelves can accommodate baskets filled with pet treats, dog shampoo, brushes and squeaky toys.



Wrought-iron raised feeders from Trolley Square Pet Store


When it comes to construction and renovation, dog showers are perhaps one of the most requested pet-oriented features. In most, the tile goes only halfway up the wall, and there is a handheld shower head, positioned low. “They’re always in the utility room when I do them,” Giroso says.

One Pennsylvania homeowner installed a low handheld shower in an oversized area off the laundry room. A dog door leads directly into the shower stall so Bowzer can get a rinse before bounding into the house.

Those without a utility or laundry room can opt for a handheld showerhead in their regular bathroom shower—as long as the shower stall offers easy access and it’s big enough for both you and your dog, Cresswell says. She also recommends a tile floor and a good drain.

Like the bathroom and utility room, the kitchen lends itself to pet friendly designs. “I’m finding that more and more of my clients are getting animals, and as designers, we have to figure out where to store the dog food and the cat food in places where they can’t get into them,” says Cathi Hodgins, owner of Kitchens by Design.

Among the first to spot the trend—maybe because the English so love their animals—was British cabinetmaker Smallbone, Hodgins says. The company makes built-ins for food and water bowls. (What else would you expect from a manufacturer that also makes remote-controlled cabinet locks?)

Today, more cabinetmakers are offering cabinetry for food storage. Hodgins has seen a roll-out cabinet, much like a trash cupboard, that glides open to reveal space for dog food in the bottom and cat food cans on top.

She’s also seen a cupboard that opens to reveal space for a dog bed, so Spike won’t get underfoot while you cook. Some dogs, apparently, prefer more privacy. One of Hodgins’ clients turned the space below her back stairs into a kitchen retreat for her two corgis. They scamper in and out at will.

The bedroom takes special consideration. “The first thing I ask is if the client lets the dog up on the bed,” Girardi says. The answer will affect the type and color of fabric used, as will maintenance requirements. If Sparky likes to curl up on your duvet, it helps to have one that’s easily removed and washed.

Dog beds in the bedroom often match the adult bed. “We want to coordinate everything so the pet is part of the living space,” Girardi says. So pet hair won’t stand out, he matches the fabric to the dog’s coat.

Cresswell has sold miniature pooch sofas that are upholstered in the same fabric as the bed. If the dog’s sofa is in the living room, she’s coordinated it with the adult-size version. Her clients are more interested in matching the existing decor than worried about camouflaging Fifi’s fur. “You have to vacuum it off the rug anyway, so what’s the difference?”

Some lucky pets get their own room. Using an enclosed porch, Cresswell gave three de-clawed cats a protected playroom complete with a tree—rooted in concrete—that is festooned with dangling toys. The cats now climb, swat and leap from limb to limb while the owner watches from one of the strategically placed benches.

If you don’t have that kind of space, consider a kitty playhouse made of quilted fabric and trimmed in rope, available from Barbara Goodman Designs. One of Hodgins’ clients redesigned her basement to accommodate a lavish doghouse, bought at a charity auction.

No detail is too small for fashionable pets. Giroso has seen a cat door that resembles tiny French doors, complete with knobs.

All this attention to animals might seem silly to those who don’t have pets, but Girardi understands the reasoning. “It’s easier for pets to give you back love than for individuals,” he says, with a laugh. “Sometimes there’s a lot more longevity with a pet than there is with a partner, so you’d better take care of your pet.”





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