Pets are great to have around, except when they’re destroying your furniture. But never fear, pet experts are on hand to give you helpful tips on making sure your furniture is as pet-friendly – and pet-proof – as possible.
Julia Szabo, who writes for the New York Post and who is the author Animal House Style: Designing a Home to Share with Your Pets, points out that a house which is not accommodating to pets will probably not fare that well with children either. A pet-friendly home, on the other hand, is well equipped to endure whatever punishment rowdy children or drunken dinner-party guests might inflict on it, so it’s in your long-term interests to take your pet’s needs into account when decorating your home.
A thorough vacuuming will get rid of most of the pet hair, and grooming your pet regularly will reduce the amount of shedding (and lighten your workload), but one of the most effective things you can do is to acquire as much pet-friendly fabric for the furniture as possible. These materials are, in general, sturdier and easier to clean, providing resilience without sacrificing aesthetics.
Don’t forget to take pet-friendly fabric into account when buying toys for your pet as well. Dogs and cats without toys will most likely take it out on your furniture, but some toys are composed of materials that don’t help the situation and are even unhealthy for your pets. Julia Szabo recommends rubber toys for dogs and chic cat trees which make good scratching posts for cats and which are also pleasing to the eye.
There is no furniture that’s completely pet-proof; if your pet digs its claws in deep enough or is just in the mood to cause damage chances are that it will show.
What you can do is seek out materials that are not only more resistant to damage, but also less affected by it, in the sense that traces of your pet are less noticeable on the fabric, or easier to remove. Some may be tempted to purchase cheaper furniture as it’s easily replaceable if defiled by pets, but in actual fact the more expensive products benefit from more robust material.
In general, these are the qualities you’re looking for in pet-friendly fabric:
- Stain resistant: No one wants to sit on a couch that’s clearly been marked as pet territory at some stage.
- Easily washable: Materials that can be easily removed and washed are helpful. Leanne Potts suggests using duvet covers and cotton bed sheets for bed spreads.
- Dark colors: All the better to hide pet hair
- Hard surfaces for pet-friendly flooring: Bare floors are preferable to carpets, which attract pet hair like flies to a spider-web. Carpets also retain strong odors if messed on by pets. If you’re concerned that a bare floor won’t feel as homely as carpets, try hardwood floors and see if it doesn’t prove you wrong. Potts also recommends painted concrete, brick and terrazzo.
According to Lauren Flanagan, examples of fabric suitable for pet-friendly furniture include:
- Hair is easily attracted to the material, but can just as easily be removed with a lint brush or by simply wiping it off with your hands.
- Stains can be removed with soap and water.
- Highly resistant to punctures caused by dog or cat claws.
- Some consider microfiber to be a cheap material, but most furniture stores cover their products with it anyway. Ultrasuede is a kind of microfiber that feels like real suede, and, according to Julia Szabo, it stays cool regardless of climate, making it especially comfortable for both humans and their pets.
- Extremely durable.
- Ideal for decorating pet-friendly couches in casual rooms of the home.
Conspiracy of Good advises pet owners to be wary of furniture that is being promoted as pet resistant. Often it’s just one of the above mentioned materials sold under a different name so they can bump up the price. Don’t fall for it; go for regular furniture composed of pet-friendly fabric that has been recommended by pet and interior design experts.