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12 Tips for Pet-Friendly Decorating (page 2 of 5)

Don't let your house go to the dogs and the cats. Follow these tips and you can keep your floors, walls and furniture looking great.

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Don't decorate with breakable knickknacks

Fragile items and animals don't mix. One bat of a dog's tail or swat of a cat's paw will send your collection of Will-George flamingo figurines skittering across the room like bowling pins. "If you must collect something, collect cast-iron doorstops," Julia Szabo says. "Put them where your dog won't trip over them. They look great in a room, and your pets can't hurt them."

Nan Ruvel suggests displaying fragile valuables in a china cabinet with glass-panel doors. "That way you can see them, but your pet can't break them," she says.

Instead, spend your decorating dollars on framed prints, photos and paintings, Julia says. "Art hangs on the walls, out of reach of your pets."

Match carpet and upholstery to fur color

Your pet can be a source of inspiration when choosing colors for your room. Paint a concrete floor the same shade of gray as your cat. Cover your sofa in a honey microfiber that matches your golden retriever. This isn't just an aesthetic shout-out to your pet; it's also a practical choice because the hair they leave behind won't be as visible. "Put a white floor in a house with a black Lab, you're going to have black tumbleweeds everywhere," says Nan Ruvel.

Julia Szabo tells of a New York artist who painted a room in his Manhattan digs a brilliant shade of green inspired by his Amazon parrot. "It reminds the parrot of his ancestral home in the jungle. The wall is gorgeous, and it makes the bird much happier," she says. Painting walls white is a bad idea aesthetically and practically, she says. "Let's face it: A white wall goes gray in a minute around dogs." This forces you to be more creative and daring when choosing colors, Julia says. "Pets present you with the opportunity to really work with color."

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