Thursday, March 21

Saving the sofa

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The joy of a pet in the home can turn to disappointment when furnishings are damaged

In her book At Home With Dogs and Their Designers, Salk asked 22 designers how they lived well with pets. The book is full of cute pups and helpful ideas: a Yorkie lounging on a sofa (print fabrics are more forgiving than solids), a sheepdog-terrier mix napping on a colourful washable throw and a pair of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels who are served their meals in blue and white porcelain bowls (why not?). Taste-makers, including Jonathan Adler and Bunny Williams, posed with their pets. 

Q We just got a new genuine leather couch, and I plan to allow our dog – about 11.5kg – on it. I don’t mind leather that shows signs of use and wear, but what can I do to keep the wear even and prevent real damage?

A Consider putting on a faux fur throw to prevent real damage. The dog will get used to lying on it very quickly. 

Q I love both my dogs, but hate the odour in the room in which they sleep. Short of removing all soft items (rugs, couch, curtains), how do I keep the smell in check?

A Use an odour eliminator that doesn’t hurt your fabrics, and helps take away those musty pet smells. 

Q I bought a sofa set in a black and white weave, and my dog is black. The fabric can be cleaned with a dry solvent cleaner. How much effort should I put into keeping her off the couch? If I vacuum or clean the furniture once a month, or every few months, will that preserve the life of the furniture or keep it from getting smelly? She is young and stays in her crate when I’m not at home. I’m also going to get a semi-nice washable blanket to see if I can train her to only sit and lie on that when we’re on the couch.

A You have to decide if you are going to allow her to go on it, or not. She is young, so she can be trained. Every time she tries to jump on it, you say a firm “no” and make her get down. Be consistent. She will stay away soon enough and understand that’s not her area. If you’d like her to join you there, put a throw down that’s cosy – chances are she will get used to lying only on that portion. It works with my dogs. 

Q I need to replace my living room rug. What type of rug will stand up to a cat scratching it and to hairball vomit?

A I like soft-pile rugs with a bold design and colour that easily hides stains and hair between cleanings. I also really recommend Oriental rugs because they are so durable. 

Q My cat has scratched and marked every piece of custom upholstery in our home. Are there any ways to keep the cat away from the furniture? 

A I feel your pain. My cat just recently scratched up a brand new rug within hours. Try to invest less in precious materials moving forward. Look for wood or metal legs for sofas, and velvets that are tough.

The Washington Post