Residential Design: Include your pets in your plans

We consider the needs of children, possibly aging parents/in-laws, and our client’s tastes and desires when designing or remodeling homes.  But what about the furry family members?  Pets are a big part of our lives and making homes comfortable, secure and convenient for pets can improve the livability of our homes.

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Our office dog, Mafi.

Thinking of the daily activities of our pets will lead to features that are not difficult to design in a well-planned residential environment.  Where will the food & water bowls be?  Are they in a spot that can easily be cleaned and is not in a part of the room where they will be kicked or tripped over?  Where will the cat’s litter box be located?  Is there adequate storage nearby for large litter containers, scoops, refuse bags? Where is the storage for dog food, harnesses, leashes, brushes, toys?  Will a pet door be needed?  Those should all be considered in the design process.

If there is room in the budget, other conveniences are possible.  In a laundry room or mud room, a pet washing station might be a great idea.  Here is an article for reference:  Dedicated Dog Showers Are A Hot Trend In Home Design

Maybe you’d like to build in a climbing station/scratching post for your cats.  Cats like to be up high.  Do your furnishings, shelves, and window sills offer safe vantage points for the cat to climb up and rest or look outside?  Will any valuables be in danger of being knocked off?  Here are some ideas for cat-friendly features:  Cat Furniture Creations Take Over the House

Think about the durability and cleaning requirements of flooring materials, rugs, and window treatments when you have pets.  Beautiful finishes can become stained or tattered if subjected to daily rubbing or pawing by pets.

If you have a bird, think about where the cage will be.  Does the area have the proper lighting and temperature, away from drafts or direct sunlight?  Some birds like hearing the television, and some birds do not.  Be sure that the cage is in an area that allows some quiet time for the bird.  Will the flooring be protected from falling seeds, etc.?

Tanks or cages with fish, turtles, hamsters, rabbits, rats, gerbils, snakes, and so on all pose issues.  Do you need a dedicated outlet for a heat lamp or a circulating pump that runs constantly?  Where will the cords be?  Do you have a secure shelf?  Is there adequate height for the cage and air circulation around it?  Is it close to a source of water to replenish the water bowl?  Again, think about the windows in the room to avoid direct sunlight or drafts.

Where in the yard will your dog be playing, or pooping?  Do you have the appropriate landscaping for those activities?  What will be your normal door to use when going out for walks?  Is there a good spot for the dog to clean-up inside before running back into the house with muddy feet?  Is that door in a safe area if you must let the dog out at night?  Is there a trip hazard near the door if you are sleepy?  Do you need to add a gate or motion-activated lighting or any additional security measures?

Taking the time to think about your daily interactions with your pets and sharing that information with your architect is a worthwhile exercise and may even add value to your home.  It will certainly create a more pleasant environment for both you and your pets.

Thanks for reading, and as always, we are Designing for Your Reality.

By Lorianna Kastrop, Vice President, The Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects

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