Real Estate

The Latest Must-Have Amenities for Pets


When you’re designing or decorating a home, you have to consider the needs of the occupants — and that means not just people, but any resident animals.

“Our clients are very serious about their animals,” said Jimmy Crisp, the principal of Crisp Architects, in Millbrook, N.Y.

At Mr. Crisp’s home, in nearby Poughquag, N.Y., there are multiple dogs in residence, along with a cat. So it’s not surprising that many of the homes he designs have built-in amenities for pets.

Amy Storm, the principal of the interior design firm Amy Storm & Company, in Glen Ellyn, Ill., thinks along the same lines. “Most of our clients do have pets, and certainly want to pamper them and create special places for them,” she said. “It would actually be unusual that we wouldn’t be working on some sort of location for the pets to eat and bathe.”

What are the must-have amenities for today’s pampered pet? Read on.

For larger dogs, a shower with an opening at the floor makes the most sense, Ms. Storm said. But for smaller dogs, it’s often better to raise the shower, so that it resembles an oversized sink, she said — that way, you don’t have to hunch over.

And don’t forget: Dog showers can be multifunctional. A raised shower for small dogs “could double as a mudroom sink,” Ms. Storm said, while those that extend to the floor offer a great place to dry laundry if you add a hanging rod.

“A lot of our clients look for things they can add to their home to make it easier having pets,” Ms. Van Daley said.

If you don’t want to see bowls sitting out all day long, there’s another option: Install a low drawer in a bank of cabinetry, with cutouts for bowls, so you can slide it closed when it’s not in use.

“It’s a hidden dog bowl,” said Mr. Crisp, who once built a bowl drawer into the base of a mudroom bench seat.

Crate training your dog shouldn’t mean putting up with an ugly wire structure in the middle of your living space. Many designers are creating upscale custom crates that are built into homes.

Ms. Van Daley designed a pair of crates with brass-mesh doors and enough space inside for dog beds as part of storage cabinets in the primary bedroom of one project. And Mr. Crisp designed a custom crate to fill the unused space under a staircase.

If you don’t need a crate, but want a place to hold wet dogs in the mudroom, there are other options.

For one client, Ms. Storm designed a mudroom with a half-height screened pocket door that pulls out of the wall like a baby gate. Compared to a solid door, “you still have good light and good air, and everyone can still see each other,” she said, “even though the dogs are secured.”

For another client in Brooklyn, Ms. Barker is designing a cat bathroom that conceals the litter box.

“It’s a door into a closet with a portal in it,” she said, so the cats can come and go as they please and no one has to look at the litter box. “Then you can open the door to take the litter box out.”

The same thing can be achieved with cabinetry, by adding a cat door that opens to a concealed litter box in a base cabinet. That way, Ms. Barker said, “the litter box isn’t this object always parked in your way.”

“We had a small apartment and were looking for ways that we could expand the place for him without taking up floor space,” Mr. Wilson said. “I wanted it to look good. We just weren’t interested in regular cat trees.”



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