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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pet-friendly home reduces stress

By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer

Our goal is to improve people's lives through architecture. Having a home that supports your family's lifestyle reduces stress and contributes to mental and physical well being.

It is a fact of life that many lifestyles include pets as important and valued members of the family.

From building in-the-wall cat tunnels to designing outdoor dog runs, more homeowners are planning remodels with pets in mind. We have designed specialized pet doors, indoor/outdoor recreation areas, and even dog showers for our clients and their pets.

Dog showers are great for cleaning dirty pets but can also be useful in other ways, such as spraying house plants or cleaning dirty boots and other outdoor items.

If you are contemplating a remodel and couldn't imagine leaving Rover out, then here are some ideas.

A utility room — such as a laundry room or mudroom — with direct access to the outside is a good place for pet-friendly architectural features. This room is a great place for a dog shower (yes, they do exist). A dog shower has tiled walls that reach about 3 feet in height, a detachable handheld showerhead, and an open floor- level entry so your dog can walk right in. You can use the shower to give your dog a full scrub-down or just to clean off muddy paws.

After we designed a dog shower for one of our clients, she attests that her large bull mastiff now actually enjoys bathing!

Dog showers can also be useful in other ways. You can use them to spray house plants, clean dirty boots and other outdoor items, or hang wet clothing to drip dry. If you have smaller dogs and pets, a large utility sink installed at counter-level can serve the same purposes.

If cats are your thing, you could install in this room a cabinet with a swinging cat door to hide the sight and odor of a litter box.

A bin attached inside a cabinet that tilts open provides an easy and cleaner way for you to store and scoop out dry cat or dog food. Whether enclosed inside a cabinet or not, you may also want to have plenty of hooks in this room to hang leashes, collars, brushes and so forth.

This room can become a pet retreat with automatic feeders and drinking fountains. If you want to contain your pets in your home but not completely isolate them, you could install a half-height door for your dog or an interior screen door for your cat.

And speaking of keeping your pets inside, ceramic tile, vinyl-composition tile, stained concrete and hard rubber coating make durable, easy-to-clean flooring for pets. Avoid cheap vinyl, which can be torn by claws and sharp toenails.

Even though we are talking about remodels that could enhance your pet's lives, the construction process can be stressful for pets — and humans for that matter. Pet behavioral specialists suggest creating one construction-free room in the house for your pet's sanity.

Keep their food and water in the same place throughout the construction process. Introduce your pets to your construction crew and label the pet room so crews don't accidentally let out your pets. Try to pet-proof your home as well as you can during construction. Make sure nails and tacks are picked up and your pets are locked up or out of the house when the loud noises come.

Once you and your pet make it through the hard part, you won't regret having a functional and well-designed remodel, especially if it makes your home friendlier for your dog or cat — and more convenient for you. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2008 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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