Interior Design

Interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch reveals how to make a home pet friendly – and super stylish

Gorgeous interiors and four-legged inhabitants? Yes, you can

pet friendly stone flooring
(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

Our dogs, cats and the other animal inhabitants of our homes are notoriously tough on interiors – but we wouldn’t be without them. The question becomes, then, how to decorate so rooms still look how we want them, but are pet friendly into the bargain.

Pets’ claws can damage surfaces, then there’s the issue of shed hair, the dirt they bring in, and their penchant for sitting on every piece of furniture, all of which makes an impact. 

But UK interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch has shown how homes can still be beautiful when animals are part of a household. Read on to discover Emma’s unmissable advice, and visit our interior design hub for inspiration on furniture, soft furnishings, color and more.

 See: Best vacuum for pet hair – top options to rid your home of fur and fluff

Emma Sims-Hilditch’s tips on a pet-friendly home

The Sims Hilditch journal is a fabulous source of design advice and inspiration. In a recent post, Emma Sims-Hilditch revealed to her followers how to make a home pet-friendly. Here, we share her top tactics. 

1. Go for stone flooring

pet friendly stone flooring

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

Natural stone flooring is a beautiful choice in any case, but its other advantages are that it’s durable and easy to clean, says Emma. In other words, it will stand up to the paw traffic as well as foot traffic of the household, and when dirt’s trekked in, getting rid of it is simple.

Emma’s surprising piece of advice when you’re choosing stone is to avoid dark colored tiles. ‘Contrary to expectation they tend to make muddy paw prints more visible, especially when they dry,’ she says.

Stone flooring can be sealed with a stain stopper, and Emma recommends repeating the treatment every few years particularly if you opt for a porous stone such as French limestone.

When it comes to grout, her top choice is a mid-toned version which won’t collect dirt.

2. Keep wood flooring looking good

pet friendly wood flooring

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

Wood is another possibility for your floors, according to Emma, but you will need to care for timber flooring correctly to retain its good looks. To keep a wood floor clean she recommends the use of a soapy wood floor cleaner with a small amount of water. 

To avoid scratches on the floor’s surface, meanwhile, ensure dogs’ claws are clipped, she says. How often you need to do this will depend on your dog’s activity levels, breed and age, but look out for claws touching the floor when the dog is on a flat surface and, of course, noise as they walk around.

3. Select the right carpet

pet friendly carpet

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

Carpets and pets are compatible, but you’ll need to pick the right one to make your home pet friendly. Pets’ claws can snag in loop pile carpets, Emma says, while formal cut pile carpets can be quite tricky to clean if they get dirty and damp. You’ll likely want to avoid the latter in any high traffic area.

Emma also cautions against natural flooring like sisal when you share your home with animals as it, too, isn’t easy to clean. However, she is a fan of a lookalike that’s manmade and can be cleaned plus is hardwearing enough for halls and staircases. 

4. Think upholstery

pet friendly upholstery

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

A pet’s favorite piece of furniture may well not be covered in a fabric that’s durable enough for their attentions, so consider having pieces that are showing wear and tear – or are likely to – re-upholstered.

Emma’s rule of thumb is that what you choose should have a rub count of more than 18,000, and you can get further advice from the fabric supplier. 

If your furniture is getting very furry, you might like to take up Emma’s suggestion of using linen fabric as she says it tends not to pick up dog hair. It’s durable as well. A wool and linen fabric can also last and protect furniture from pets, she says.

5. Design a dog shower into you mud room

Emma Sims Hilditch interior design tips

(Image credit: Sims-Hilditch)

Creating space to clean dogs before they get the opportunity to track dirt further into the house by installing a dog shower is an option more homeowners are taking up, Emma reveals.

Fit one into a mud room and you can get your pooch pristine when they come back inside and you’ll save yourself plenty of floor cleaning chores.  

See Emma's inspiring, classic projects on the Sims-Hilditch website.

Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart,
decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in
furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.