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
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
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.
- See: 10 pet-friendly house plants – to keep cats and dogs safe
3. Select the right carpet
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
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
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.
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Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.
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