Design: Cool for cats (and dogs)

From sofas designed for dachshunds, to the purrfect chaise for a puss – the latest interiors craze will have all our furry friends sitting pretty. By Helen Brown
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There was a running joke in Frasier that the protagonist's father ruined the aspirational, high-design ambiance of his Seattle penthouse. Martin Crane's major offence was the presence of his beloved dog, Eddie. The scruffy little terrier dribbled on the Eames chair, ran in scratchy little circles around the glass-topped coffee tables and left garish chew-toys vying for attention with Frasier's perfectly placed African sculptures and abstract oils. Coming home one day to find Eddie sprawled across the furniture, Frasier growls: "Dad? I thought we had an agreement. Eddie doesn't roll around on my sofa and I don't throw him in front of a bus."

Even those of us who would not contemplate the murder of our furry friends would take the general point. Many are the occasions when I've tidied up, arranged flowers and twisted furniture to just the right angles, only for my cat to deposit decomposing rat entrails on the floor just as friends are due to arrive.

For pet lovers aspiring to a higher level of animal/aesthetic integration, Ikea has introduced a range of designer pet furniture. The company that once told British homeowners to chuck out the chintz is now exhorting us to chuck out the mangy old dog beds and chipped feeding bowls that clutter up our homes.

Is this just a case of cuteness conquering all? Not necessarily. When selling my last flat, one sniffy viewer made an offer £400 below the asking price because that was how much she said it would cost to fumigate the place in case my "animal" had infested it with fleas. Which, I might add, my cat had not.

According to Simon Ashwell of the agency Savills, I'm lucky to have even made it to the offer stage with a pet-averse viewer. "People make up their minds about a property often within a second of coming through the front door. If they don't like animals, and your house smells of dogs or cats, then selling it is an uphill struggle from that moment on. You see the potential buyer's nose wrinkle and you know it's not going to be easy. They're instantly calculating how many thousands it will cost to rip out all the carpets and re-lay a lawn pockmarked with faeces."

So enter Ikea to offer a more glamorous take on pet beds. The new Bastis range consists of animal accessories with motifs such as the spotty Dalmation, through the organic rattan and up to the regal black-on-red print of the Bastis Krona selection, which includes a Lilliputian chaise longue for the quadruped with a taste for smoking jackets and Noel Coward.

At £34.99, the Bastis Krona dog/cat bed is reasonable value and could look rather charming in the right home. But I have no idea how anyone could induce even the best-disciplined of pets to sleep on it. Even if your pet is so obliging as to recline as requested, how long before the Bastis Krona is matted with fur or has its legs scratched to shreds?

More appealing to the experienced cat owner will be Ikea's Bastis Blond cat bed: a rattan tower that your feline friend will certainly want to climb and scratch. Designed by Nicolas Cortolezzis and priced at £34.90, its organic style will fit into most interior design schemes.

If Ikea's in at the baseline budget, then there are (of course) more exclusive options for the wealthier pet owner. The Conran Shop does some lovely things made of high-quality materials and designed with practicality in mind. Their Red Big Bone Dog Bed (£110) and Black Cat Bed (£75) are squishy objects for floor level, covered in dirt-resistant cotton covers that can be machine washed.

The Conran Shop also sells Alessi dog and cat bowls (stainless-steel vessels set in cheeky plastic moulds, priced £36-£38) and does some pretty dog toys. The Shanti Stick dog toy (£12) is decorated in cheery red and orange patterns.

Off the high street and into the boutique world, you'll find kookier and slicker gear. Igloo Designs was one of the first UK companies to follow the US trend for pet accessories. Igloo's Samantha Ruffell-Smith says that while the Americans are predictably wackier in their tastes, "the UK customer is a little more discerning and mainly buys products with a practical purpose that fit in with both their lifestyle, fashion trends and their home decor. "

Igloo's luxury pet bowls are clear plastic, inset with motifs of hearts, fish and carrots and priced £5.95-£28 ( If you're less into cute and more into the clean lines of stainless steel, then you are likely to be seduced by the gorgeous range of luxury pet bowls by Wetnoz (from £28.50 at The functionalist in me is drawn to the sculptural Pee Wee cat bowl, which has non-slip rubber feet to ensure your cat doesn't chase its supper all over the kitchen floor.

There's a homely luxury about the top-end pet products made by Mungo and Maud, whose ranges are available from the Selfridges Pet Boutique and online at I was charmed by their sweet French cat bowl with its little cat figurine poised at the rim (£120, currently reduced to £84), but suspect I'd kick and break it.

Their double dog bowl (stainless steel set in oak) is very practical if you don't mind wiping it over, although it's steep at £105 – as is their beautiful hand-embroidered wool dog blanket at £175.

For the pet owner for whom price is no object, a trip to Pets and the City ( is a must. Their chrome and leather Modernist sofa (£450) wouldn't look amiss in the most minimalist of pads. And their vintage-style tin and copper bath (£750) is cute in a deeply cool way.

It's all a bit ridiculous, though. Your dog won't know the difference between high-concept design and an old plastic tub. And some would say you'd have to be barking to pay these prices. But it seems that an increasing number of owners simply refuse to do doggy without style, dahhling.