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12 Tips for Pet-Friendly Decorating (page 3 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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Set up an animal area near an entry

"It's important to consider your pet's lifestyle when you establish the layout of your house," Nan Ruvel says. "If your dog goes outside, make sure he can come back in through an area that's super-impervious." She just finished a project in which she converted a breakfast room into a mudroom for a client's two dogs. "She wanted a place where she could get dirt off them before they came in the house," she says. To do this, she put porcelain tile on the walls and floor of the breakfast room, which opened onto the backyard. She replaced the table with a banquette upholstered in stain-resistant fabric and equipped with under-the-seat storage for leashes and food. Nan also installed built-in shelves on the walls where the client could keep towels used to wipe the dirt off the dogs when they came inside from the yard.

Give your pet tidy, attractive treats and toys

Dogs adore pigs ears and rawhide bones, but Julia Szabo says they're a bad idea. "They're hideous, they're smelly and they're as bad for your pet as they are for your floor," she says, pointing out they're coated in nitrates and leave greasy stains on floors and furniture.

It's important to give your dog something to chew on, or he might go after a chair leg. Julia suggests rubber toys like the Kong or the Super-Tuff Rhino. For cats, she recommends Everyday Studio's Cat Tree (www.everydaystudio.com), a scratching post/climbing tree combo that hangs on the wall. It's a chic, geometrically shaped concoction of colored metal and cardboard that offers a stylish alternative to homely, carpet-covered scratching posts and plywood climbing trees. "It's like a work of art for your pet; it's beautiful and it's functional," she says. Another option that will allow your cat to get out his inner panther stylishly: shelves for him to perch on. Julia sells Tiger Branches, a set of wooden demilune shelves that attach to the wall. (Visit www.animalhousestyle.com for prices and ordering information.)

Use semigloss wall paint

Even if your pet goes to the groomer regularly, he or she will still leave smudges on walls and door jambs. A basset hound can sling drool across a room and onto a wall with a shake of his head, and a parrot can fling all sorts of goo out of his cage and onto the wall.

Flat-finish paint is nearly impossible to clean; try to wipe off a dirty spot and some of the paint comes off as well, leaving an unsightly mark that must be repainted. Semigloss is the easiest to wipe down, but its sheen will call attention to every ding and irregularity in your walls. Satin or eggshell finishes are more elegant and as easy to clean as glossier paint.

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