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A perfect home if you have pets? It’s (almost) possible

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A designer provides advice for living happily with dogs and cats

Sharing your home with a dog or cat has many joys plus a few disappointments – such as scratched floors, snagged sofas and soiled rugs.

Designer and author Susanna Salk believes it is possible to live stylishly and practically with pets, and she asked 22 designers how they achieved that. Salk’s book, At Home With Dogs and Their Designers, is full of cute pups and helpful ideas: a Yorkie lounging on a couch (print fabrics are more forgiving than solids); a sheepdogterrier 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?).

Here are some of Salk’s ideas for protecting rugs and furniture while still making pets feel welcome.

Q: We just got a new leather couch, and I plan to allow our dog 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 major damage?

A: I would consider getting a nice faux fur throw (a pretty white or grey one, perhaps?) and putting it down to prevent damage. The dog will get used to lying on it, instead of the leather, very quickly.

Q: I just had a sofa upholstered 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/clean the furniture once a month, or every few months, will that preserve the life of the furniture and keep it from becoming smelly? She is young and stays in her crate when I’m not home. I’m also going to get a semi-nice washable blanket to see if I can train her only to sit on that when we’re on the couch.

A: You have to decide whether or not you are going to allow her on the sofa. 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 be easy to maintain and stand up to a cat scratching it and to hairball vomit?

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

Q: My cat has scratched and marked every piece of upholstery in our home. Are there fabrics, sprays or other tactics that work to keep the cat away from the furniture?

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


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