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12 Tips for Pet-Friendly Decorating (page 4 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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Use stain-resistant fabrics

Forget silk, chintz or the pet-hair magnet known as velvet. Discover the joys of Crypton, a nearly indestructible synthetic fabric that's resistant to stains, smells, bacteria and muddy paws.

William Wegman, the artist known for his Weimaraner photos, has designed a line of Crypton fabrics aimed at pet-obsessed style mavens that includes sturdy suedes and twills with names like Polka Dog and Material Dog. It's available in upholstery shops and from many furniture manufacturers and interior designers; you can find it online at www.cryptonfabric.com.

Leather is a good choice, easy to clean and durable. Most grades of leather will suffer only scratches from Fido or Fluffy's claws but, hey, the scratches add patina. If you see a sad irony in buying a sofa made from an animal for your animal, try pleather. It's cruelty-free, relatively inexpensive and has a timeless appeal.

Then there's Ultrasuede, a machine-washable microfiber that feels as smooth and seductive as real suede. "I can't say enough good things about Ultrasuede," Julia Szabo says. She has covered her 1950s Heywood-Wakefield sofa and chairs in Ultrasuede and even had a couple of pet beds made of it. "It's beautiful, and it always stays cool and comfortable, no matter the climate. That's important for your and your animal's comfort."

Put washable fabrics on your bed

If your dog or cat sleeps with you, there will be accidents. "Cats barf a lot," Julia Szabo says. "Deal with it." Protect your mattress from the inevitable by covering it with a thick pad. Use cotton bed sheets, preferably in a medium color or a pattern that can hide the pet hair and stains between washings. For bedspreads, duvet covers work well because you can take them off and wash them regularly. Delicate-looking matelasse coverlets are surprisingly durable; their tight quilting resists pet-toenail snags and repeated washings.

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