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Remodeling Goes to the Dogs

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ August 20, 2010

It happened early in August. The venerable New York Times ran an article by Sonia Zjawinski noting that homeowners were "remodeling with their pets in mind." That's like the tail wagging the dog when it comes to home improvements, isn't it? Not so, claims Zjawinski, who writes that simply laying out feeding bowls and water dishes on the floor is fashionably outre.

The piece, reprinted in the San Jose Mercury News, claims that "animal-friendly design" is part of interior design's latest wave. Consider the Cape Cod resident that asked her designer to include specs for embedding niches and alcoves for pet feeding dishes in the newly ordered kitchen island, along with roll-out bins for doggy treats and kibble.

One new idea is to create doggy doors and cat doors of proportionate sizes that lead to alcoves or feeding areas, segregating pets by their width. That keeps the terrier out of the kitty food. A Brooklyn family added a kitten walk of shelving that runs around the wall over their kitchen cabinets to create a place for their confined feline to stretch a little. Add bright, color-coordinated paint, and the kitchen gains fresh additional trim.

Planning Around the Litter Box

A Boston couple asked their home designer to create a bathroom space that demonstrates, as Zjawinski cleverly says, "Thinking outside the litter box." The kitten comfort room was confined into a sliding drawer space that opened from the bathroom wall, creating a separate exhaust vent for evacuating the smell. Bravo!

Homeowners are planning everything from roll-away dog beds and living room turtle ponds to outdoor bird homes with interior heating elements.

If you have an existing space, there are options in kitchen designs that can incorporate pet doors into the remodeling scheme. There are weather doors for pets that help keep your interior temperatures constant, blocking air leaks. For example, Pet Safe has a door with a triple-flap system that the manufacturer claims offers energy efficiency that is 4 ½ times more effective than traditional single-flap swinging pet doors.

The products are sold by the estimated weight of your pet and range from $43 to $129.99, depending on the flap opening and materials.

In Kobe, Japan, there's an architectural firm that specializes in animal-centered home design. The concepts take into consideration the feng shui that is said to influence the spirit of the animal. It gives one paws.

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