Living in style with pets

The two needn’t be mutually exclusive

According to research by the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Associations (PFMA), there are over 22 million pets currently living in households across the UK. But, at what cost to our home style?

As a dog-owner, I know only too well the damage that pets can wreak on decoration, not to mention the littering of unsightly pet accessories that can take over a living space. It’s no wonder that pets can be notoriously off-putting to potential home buyers. So what can be done? 

WALLS & DOORS

Whether it’s the full-body shake-down of a wet dog in the hallway or kitchen; the innocently wagging tail that beats relentlessly against your paintwork; or the scratches on the painted door from a cat impatient to join you in another room, walls and doors tend to suffer when pets are around, but there are ways to combat the onslaught, says Marianne Shillingford, Design Director at the Dulux Design Service.

“As a designer, I want to combine good looks with practicality and always recommend that pet owners, who are doing the decorating themselves, use Dulux Endurance matt emulsion on the walls. It’s 20 times tougher than standard emulsion and you can wipe it down safely without the risk of losing any of the lovely matt finish. If you are getting a decorator in, I suggest that they use Dulux Trade Diamond eggshell. It has a delicate mid-sheen finish that shows up less dirt and is much tougher than traditional oil-based eggshell. Paint is often a better option for interiors if you have pets as it can easily be washed down or painted over. But, if you do opt for wallpaper, it is best to buy a vinyl, washable variety such as Tektura as it’s really strong.”

FLOORING

Floors are another problem area if you have pets: nails catch on and hair gets stuck in carpet, muddy paws trail onto kitchen tiles and sharp nails scratch against wood flooring. So what should you go for to minimise damage?

“Wooden floors such as oak are a good choice as they are durable and easy to clean, but make sure you don’t go for a style which is too smooth or polished,” says Lucy Inskip, Senior Consultant from House Doctor, the interior design and home staging service. “A style which has a natural variation in the wood and a more textured finish, rather than smooth, will stand the test of time.” Meanwhile, she says, “You may be tempted with tiled floors for durability, but avoid anything too light: both cats and dogs bring in soil, gravel and debris from outside and you don’t want to be constantly cleaning the floor.”

When it comes to carpet, natural weave varieties are best avoided as pet nails create unsightly pulls which are unrepairable, cautions Lucy. “A traditional twist carpet would be more hardwearing, but keep this to rooms where pets only enter once cleaned up from outside.” And to protect all flooring, use “dirt trapper mats at outside door entrances to minimise mess.”

UPHOLSTERY

Upholstery is another problem area if you have pets, attracting pet hair, dirtand doggy tidemarks – hardly the hallmarks of interior elegance. But there are ways to combat this too.

If you allow your pet on the sofa, there are some “brilliant, upholstery-grade, washable utility linens out there that can be used to make a lovely co-ordinating throw or quilt for your sofas and armchairs,” says designer/maker Carla Knowles of Lola Charles, herself an owner of a chocolate labrador and two cats. “Make sure it is large enough to cover the seats and back of your sofa and, if your budget allows, get some spare loose covers, so you can swap them over regularly. Having interchangeable throws means that you don’t have to change your off-white and cream colour scheme just because a pet has come into your life.”

PET ACCESSORIES

Meanwhile, don’t forget that there are a whole range of companies that now specialise in stylish pet accessories, such as dog beds, that don’t have to be hidden away.

On the contrary, says Susan Troy, founder of The Stylish Dog Company, “your dog bed can be a real statement piece in a room. Our handmade iron dog beds are very elegant, as are our sofa dog beds, which can be chosen in your choice of fabric and wooden polished legs to match your sofa.”

Meanwhile, she says, “It’s possible, these days, to get stylish wooden dog feeders and bowls that will look great in your kitchen whatever your colour scheme. If yours is a modern minimalist feel, why not go for a contemporary raised feeder in sleek black finish to match your granite worktop? Alternatively, if yours is a country kitchen, then a raised wooden feeder, painted to match your kitchen, may be the ticket. Pottery dog bowls are now readily available in on-trend colours to complement your crockery and you can even have them personalised so there is no confusion as to who’s bowl or treat jar it is!”

Britain is a nation of pet lovers, but we are also rather fond of our homes, points out Susan. Far from ruining the look of your home,your pet accessories “can be an easy way to keep up to date with the latest interior trends, in the same way as changing your sofa cushions or lampshades can be.” Meanwhile, interior damage inflicted by pets can be limited at the outset by making smart decorative choices and, of course, being prepared for a few extra cleaning chores.

Emily Jenkinson is interiors writer for the mydeco marketplace, an online shopping experience where you can search hundreds of home furnishings and accessories all in one place.

VIDEO
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Arts & Entertainment
film
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal