How to dog-proof your home in the most stylish way – 7 tips from interior designers

Four-legged friend intent on ruining your aesthetics? Try these tried-and-tested tips from interior designers on how they dog-proof at-home

how to dog proof your home
(Image credit: Kara Childress / Studo Keeta / Plaster & Patina / Photography Amy Bartlam)

Thanks to a boom in "barkitecture", a term dubbed by Pinterest in 2021 as a way to honor the growing trend for pet-first interiors, social media is awash with DIY and custom ways to make your home more pet-friendly. But is it really possible to dog-proof your home and still make it stylish?

As a proud dog owner and home decor enthusiast, I'm always seeking out ways to ensure my beloved best friend doesn't ruin any of our carefully curated interiors with muddy paws and her endless amounts of fur. So how do I do that in a way that doesn't disrupt the aesthetics of my home (beyond investing in the best vacuum for pet hair)? I've turned to the experts for help.

From swaps as simple as machine-washable rugs and cushion covers to wipeable paint finishes and clever fabrics; I've spoken with designers and brand founders, about how to ensure your home remains beautiful when living with pets.

great dane on terrace

(Image credit: Plaster & Patina / Photography Amy Bartlam)

8 simple and stylish ways to dog proof your home

1. Choose pet-friendly fabrics for your upholstery

dog proof green leather couch with striped throw blanket

(Image credit: Studio Keeta / Ye Rin Mok)

'We love our furry friends and want them to be incorporated into the space without having to compromise style. There is a wide selection of performance textiles on the market that can fit your taste and also are forgiving to a more active lifestyle with pets,' says Kristina Khersonsky, founder of Studio Keeta.

'If performance isn’t for you, there are more resilient textiles worth considering such as mohair or wool,' she suggests. 'In our East Side Courtyard House project [seen above], we opted for an anti-scratch leather for the modular sofa because our clients wanted to protect against their pup’s nails when she gets the zoomies. We selected a performance, treated textile without compromising style.'

'You want furniture that is easy to clean and super-durable against wear and tear (pro tip: this also goes for homes with young children); these days there are beautiful performance upholstery options on the market and you never have to sacrifice style,' advises interior designer Kathy Kuo.

Look for stain- and spill-resistant fabrics such as leather, denim, canvas, and smooth fabrics that won't snag on claws. Ideally, covers should be removable for cleaning. Consider forgiving fabrics with a busy pattern, too, that will help to disguise any stain mishaps.

kathy kuo home
Kathy Kuo

Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry. 

2. Create designated dog-entry zones with a boot or mud room

boot room dog zone

(Image credit: Cathy Nordström / Photography Fanny Radvik)

Any seasoned dog owner will understand the horrors of muddy paws and your neutral living room. So I'm looking to avoid this altogether and create a space near the entryway, front or back, to my home that will act as a drop-zone for muddy boots, coats, and post-walk paws. 

If space allows, consider installing or converting a boot room, mudroom, or porch to store all your pet paraphernalia such as leads, treats, wipes, and a towel for drying them down. 

Creating designated pet zones allows for a far more harmonious coexistence of style and functionality. Consider carving out further dog-friendly nooks like a built-in bed under the stairs or a designated feeding area in your kitchen, to ensure your entire home remains fur and mud-free.

3. Don't forget somewhere to wash muddy paws

utility with dog shower and washing machines cavalier king charles spaniel

(Image credit: Dina Bandman Interiors / Photography Christopher Stark)

Finding the space for a dedicated dog washing station, bath or shower is one of the most practical additions a dog owner can add to their home.

The laundry room, utility, or mudroom can be redesigned to include a station for grooming and care, suggests designer Dina Bandman. 'Like people, pets need to bathe too! Adding a dog wash to a laundry or mudroom really helps contain the mess of bathing your pup in your own bath or shower,' she advises. 'And just because it's a practical feature, that doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty.  This is a space where you can get creative, do something unexpected, and have fun with it!' she adds.

Lidia Cetrangolo, creative manager at Multipanel, suggests: 'Every dog lover should have their own dog shower so that you can keep your regular bathroom dog, hair and mud free! A dog shower is a dedicated, canine-sized bathing area worthy of a five-star dog spa. It needs to feature a handheld shower attachment, easy accessibility, and who can forget waterproof but on-trend shower panels that can be simply wiped clean. Don't fuss around with grout here,' Lidia advises.

Dina Bandman Headshot
Dina Bandman Goldstone

San Francisco-based Dina Bandman Goldstone of Dina Bandman Interiors is known for her bold yet traditional design aesthetic.  With unparalleled attention to detail, she prides herself on her ability to merge disparate styles and create interiors with personalities as individual as her clients. 

4. Consider a machine washable rug

ruggable dog-friendly washable rug

(Image credit: Ruggable)

In a pet-friendly space, a machine-washable rug is a game-changer. Accidents happen, and having the ability to toss the rug into the washing machine ensures that maintaining a clean and stylish living space is a stress-free endeavor. 

Liza Garrison, director of product at Ruggable, says: 'Our founder Jeneva was inspired to create our machine-washable rugs after her dog accidentally ruined hers, and she wanted to be able to wash her rug the same as her towels and linens. As a dog lover, her goal was to create a water-resistant, stain-resistant, and machine-washable rug, without compromising on style.'

'Pet-friendly rugs ensure worry-free rug placement, even in high-traffic areas like hallways or kitchens,' Liza explains. 'With water and stain resistance, rug covers can be easily spot-cleaned, tackling pet hair, dirt, saliva, and more. Plus, they're also machine-washable, so you can take them off and pop them into your washing machine at home for an even deeper clean.'

'Additionally, when selecting rugs, opt for a low-pile wool or flat weave,' adds Kristina Khersonsky. 'You won’t have to worry about trapped odor or dog hair in the fibers and they wear much better over time.'

5. Hard flooring will be your best friend

cavalier king charles spaniel in neutral light filled dining room space with hard floor

(Image credit: Kara Childress)

Of course, this is down to personal preference, but at least in the downstairs of my home, I'm going to be opting for hard flooring as my main floor covering. I'm talking easy-to-clean, doesn't harbor dirt, hardwearing materials such as laminate or tiles. 

Hardwood floors, while beautiful, can easily scratch or dent and will require quick cleaning should mud or suspicious puddles appear, as they can stain almost immediately. The same also goes for terracotta floors that act as a sponge for liquids. Instead, look to manmade floor options that are manufactured to remain pristine and stainproof. 

Nandar Godoy-Dinneen, senior associate at PJCArchitecture, notes: 'When designing dog-friendly homes, it’s important that the dog be just as comfortable as the people inhabiting the space. Your home can be beautiful and animal-safe. For flooring, there are many pet-friendly, non-slip, and durable materials out there that are easy to clean and resistant to scratches,' advises Nandar. 

Carpets, while cozy and beautiful, can be a breeding ground for trapping dirt. If you're deadset on still having something soft underfoot, either opt for rugs as we've mentioned or stick to low pile carpet in darker, earthy shades to hide hair and paw prints. The best floor for dogs needs to be hardwearing but there is no reason why it can't look good too.

6. Opt for wipeable, glossy paint finishes on anything at paw height

yellow dog shower and utility room

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball / India Yellow No.66 Modern Eggshell / Stephen Karlisch)

Opting for finishes that are easily wipeable is a must for pet owners. Whether it's muddy paw prints or accidental nose smudges, a quick wipe should effortlessly restore your walls to their pristine state, ensuring a home that is resilient to the daily adventures of pets. 

‘For any areas of the house that require a more durable and washable finish, our  Architects’ Matt Emulsion offers scuff and stain resistance,' advises Andy Greenall head of design at Paint & Paper Library. 'Suitable for interior walls and ceilings in all rooms, including kitchens, hallways, and boot rooms, this finish is ideal for anywhere muddy dogs (and bedraggled owners!) pass through as mud, dirt, and moisture can easily be wiped away with no damage to the painted surface. This also means that you don’t have to limit your color choice to somber, dirt-friendly shades to disguise potential muddy paw prints, and can instead let your walls sing to the tune of the rest of your house,' says Andy.

From matte to satin, you can strike the perfect balance between a sophisticated look and the resilience needed in a pet-friendly environment.

‘When decorating a busy space, such as hallways and kitchens, opt for hard-wearing, durable paints such as our range of Intelligent Paints that are easy to clean and available in a number of finishes so you don’t need to compromise on the color or sheen,' suggests Ruth Mottershead, creative director at Little Greene. 'These wipeable finishes will ensure that any muddy trails can easily be removed, leaving your home mud-free and dog-friendly.’ 

Ruth Mottershead
Ruth Mottershead

Ruth Mottershead is the creative director of the family-run paint and wallpaper businesses Little Greene and Paint & Paper Library, which specialize in creating luxurious paint and wallpaper that represent 300 years of decorative history.

7. When in doubt, throw a blanket over it

great dane dog on blue velvet sofa

(Image credit: Plaster & Patina / Photography Bryan N. Miller)

If you want to give your furnishings a fighting chance, a throw or blanket is your best friend. A washable yet beautiful blanket that matches your living room color scheme will mean you can protect your couch or armchair from a multitude of sins. Throw one over your seating, beds, and even flooring for a moveable (and chic) protection from claws and paws. 

'I say, if you live with animals (children included) your things are bound to get a bit imperfect, but when dealing with a home that has animals, ensure you are using performance fabrics and also make sure you know how to properly address stains,' advises interior designer Alexandra Azat, founder of Plaster & Patina and owner of the rather large dog seen above.

'Personally, I live with Great Danes, and we have neat little blankets that we throw over anything that isn't fully performance-ready and chuck them in the cabinetry when we have people coming over, that way, we ensure it always looks good,' Alexandra suggests.

plaster and patina founder alexandra azat
Alexandra Azat

Known for her attention to detail and sophisticated aesthetic, Alex possesses a keen ability to deeply understand her clients style along with their hopes and dreams and cares to always surpass them. Her designs, although creative and unique, are always rooted in an old-world  and timeless overall feel.

Honestly, dog-proofing your home is just one of those things that become second nature after a while of pet owning. You cover up things you love and don't want to be ruined, ensure they have plenty of distractions (toys) to stop them from eating your couch and always always make sure to wipe down paws before they enter the 'clean zones'. 

And it's not just about keeping your home beautiful, but keeping them safe too. Remove any obvious threats to their safety and health, and ensure that any floor coverings you choose aren't overly slippery to be mindful of their joints. It's all about creating a home that works for both you and your furry bestie and celebrates the joy they bring to a home.

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome