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A Great Interior Design Challenge: Creating a Dog-friendly Home


Dog in his kitchen island bed to show a great interior design challenge of making space for your dog in various rooms of your home.

Image courtesy of Creativity Exchange

A great interior design challenge – one that’s fun and rewarding — is creating a space that works for the way you, your family and your pets live. That is so true in today’s world, especially for homeowners in dog-friendly Santa Barbara. In just the past year, more and more interior designers and even builders have been hired to create spaces specifically to accommodate beloved pets. Pet feeding areas, pet baths or showers, cozy bed/den areas, storage for food, leashes, toys and grooming products all topped the list.

According to Betsy Bassett, owner of Betsy Bassett Interiors: “It’s not just a crate in the corner anymore; people want to designate a more permanent place in their home for their dogs: a place that incorporates them more fully into the home, just as they are incorporated into our everyday lives as family members.”

That’s right. Forget about the simple dog crate and food bowl of the past. Today’s home pet amenity requests are being met in elegant and innovative ways, perfect for those who live in luxury in Montecito and Santa Barbara. From furniture-style gates that retract seamlessly into the cabinetry, to islands with built-in beds and wall niches that hide canine water fountains, the possibilities are endless.

The growing trend among dog owners and a great interior design challenge is to include dog-specific spaces or rooms like the laundry room. Wherever you decide, creating a specific space in your home for Fido is the best way to contain the plethora of accessories needed for the well-loved pooch.

Another hot pet trend is personalization. This does not refer to adding your dog’s name to their bowl. Designers and builders are shaping design solutions around the individual needs and preferences of the family pet. Examples include pet whirlpools for older dogs who suffer from arthritis and outdoor showers for younger pups who love to get dirty.

Doug Walter from Doug Walter Architects says: “It’s so easy to design in a single or multiuse dog wash—and the dogs will much prefer this to being blasted with ice-cold hose water outside. This is more like a doggie spa, with warm water and shampoo, maybe a little cream rinse, followed by fluffy towels and, finally, a brush down. Could it get any better?”

You can find a host of stylish pet accouterments and ideas to buy online, as seen in the image above, at The Creativity Exchange. But, before you go on a spending spree, check out this list of 4 things to consider when creating your dog-loving Santa Barbara home:

  • Private Hideaway Dog inside a fancy crate that's also a table.
    Dogs are cave-dwelling creatures by nature and feel comforted by tight spaces. Instinct tells them they are safer in a smaller space. Dogs and wolves in the wild will sleep in caves for the first month or few months of their lives. With that in mind, designers suggest homeowners consider creating a private hideaway for Fido. It’s easy. Just tuck a dog bed under your bed or purchase a bedside table that is really a fancy dog crate. Think of it as a luxury kennel. Or consider devoting an entire room to your pet; a place that allows owners to shut the door. With a little design creativity, you can easily devise a private hideaway using a nook in the laundry area or another room of your home, or even under the stairs. Consider it your dog’s nesting area.
  • Dog Den in the Kitchen
    Built-in dog beds can keep your beloved pet tucked away in luxurious comfort in any room of the house. Many homeowners are choosing to create personal space in the kitchen: the heart of their home. Custom kitchen cabinetry can provide space to store leashes, food, toys, and other gear. Other homeowners go so far as to remove a single base cabinet and add a mesh door beneath their kitchen island to create the perfect den for the family canine. That way, a dog can enjoy being in the kitchen with their family without getting directly underfoot during meal prep. It also provides dogs with the perfect spot to relax when they need alone time.
  • Everything in Its Place
    Dogs accumulate stuff just like people do. For those who hate clutter, here’s an innovative solution: install a kitchen pull-out using versatile shelves configured to provide storage for leashes, grooming tools and more; keeping them organized and out of sight when not in use. To keep your pet’s food area neat and tidy, repurpose a simple pull-out drawer to hold food and treats. Pet bowls should ideally be tucked out of the main traffic flow too. A pull-out feeding area that can be tucked away when not in use is the perfect solution. And don’t forget to add a built-in water fountain. Tuck it into a wall niche and you’ll never trip over the water bowl again!
  • Clean & Tidy
    Responding to the growing interest in pet amenities, manufacturers are creating pet concept spaces. An outdoor shower is perfect for cleaning up muddy paws before your active pup tracks dirt inside. For older or arthritic pets, there are pet spas that offer the choice of a soothing soaker tub or whirlpool system with five full-size massage jets that provide hydrotherapy benefits. Another excellent tip is to make sure your furniture is dog resistant. There are plenty of fabrics to choose from. You might also want one of the dog-friendly, fully washable rugs from Ruggable.

Are you looking for a new home for you and your four-legged family member in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities? A place to tackle a great interior design challenge for Fido or FiFi? Then consider giving me a call at +1-(805) 886-9378 or email me at I will happily add your listing to my portfolio of fine homes in the area and find your new dream home. Meantime, please share any additional great interior design ideas for Santa Barbara dog owners on my Facebook page. Woof!

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