The Insider: How to stop pets cramping your style

Our affectionate mongrel is the house's first pet: small, regularly washed and short-haired – how much mess could he make? Ha. LOADS. And besides the obvious culprits (teeth, bladder, moulting fur), pet paraphernalia – whatever the animal – can be hideously naff. And pricey. Though, if you know where to look...

Muddy waters Regular doormats don't even take the edge off dirty paws. After spying clever-but-ugly "dirt-trapping mats" in the back of a magazine, I found's better-looking selection.

Go fishin' My friend Emma, a mother and interiors perfectionist, is considering giving in to the children's pet requests, with fish. But only if they live in a lush Biorb tank (£60-ish to £300-plus,

Clean suite Furry furnishings? A top tip from Express Housekeeping, by Anna Shepherd: "Dampen a rubber glove to rub hair away easily."

Claws out My granny has a scratching post for her cat. Aesthetically, it is repellent. Go B-movie chic instead with "Cats Attack", a cardboard cityscape for kitties, £19.95 from

Let sleeping dogs lie Frustrated at pricey, horrible dog beds, I simply wrapped Mutt's grim cushion in nice fabric. Canines are stalkers, though, so interior designer Eliska Sapera suggests floor cushions covered in a hard-wearing fabric – Sunbrella, say – to match different rooms, to give Mr Four-legs his own hairy spaces all over the house.

Simply the best for all My best tip for cool, affordable pet stuff is Etsy. Loving the stenciled stuff at Bow Wow Beds ( and the crocheted rugs at Kirsten Loves Dinner ( loves dinner), in the £20 region.

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at