Stylish Designs for Pet Owners

Interior designer Marie Bishop answers your questions

Q: What are the most creative ways you’ve seen pets (their beds, food dishes, toys etc.) incorporated into a home design? I’m looking for some ideas for the home I share with a dog and a cat.

A: Great question. There is no doubt we have become a society of pet lovers. These furry critters have become our friends, our babies, our family. While they have always shared our living space, there is a recent trend to create a dedicated “designer space” for our beloved pets.

Some would say it’s about time. Our fur babies have nestled their way into our homes as much as our hearts. Most pets have a designated doggie bed or kitty pillow somewhere in your main living area and likely in your bedroom, too. But what do you do with all their accessories, toys, treats, outerwear, grooming tools, medications and, yes, family photos?

As with any design idea, this can be as elaborate or simple as your budget and space will allow. Of course, it also depends on the number and size of the pets you have. Let’s say you don’t mind investing a little money, effort and floor space for your pet. The most obvious space would be located in or near your main living area; no one likes to be left out. If it’s close to the entrance you most frequently use, so much the better.

For starters, you could invest in an open-faced, locker style unit with hooks, baskets and possibly drawers. This takes advantage of vertical space to keep everything tidy and organized. The hooks can handle leashes, rainwear, vests, a small backpack for snacks, those little baggies and your sun/rain hat. Glass jars on an upper shelf could display treats. Baskets at the lower level are great for the toys, squeakies and towels for drying wet and muddy paws. Drawers can store food, medications, even a notebook for appointment reminders and medication schedules for times when someone else is in charge. Add a serviceable rug next to a comfy doggie bed, as well as a waterproof placemat for the food and water dishes, and you’ve got a great Doggie Den.

If you have unused space or a space you could repurpose – like the cubby under the stairs, a storage area or a dead space at the end of a hallway – you can add more character and personality with a funky light fixture, a fake plant, a photo wall, or even an accent colour or mural to give it real canine character.
Cats, on the other hand, have different needs. They will thoroughly enjoy the fact that you’ve created a special place for them, possibly wonder what took you so long, use it occasionally – and continue to claim every other comfortable surface in your house. The best you can do is protect your furniture with nice-looking throws that will need to be replaced every now and again. But if you are a cat lover, you already know this.

Image titleIndoor and outdoor cats will equally a creative indoor space that lets them hone their feline prowess. Cats love spaces where they can climb, hide, scratch, watch from above and sleep. It’s easy enough to create if you don’t mind giving them a little vertical space. This, too, can be designed in an underused area of the house where you can set up angled and level platforms on the wall, carpeted vertical spaces to scratch, tunnels to navigate and a spot to nap. The ideal Kitty Condo.

Another consideration for indoor cats is the dreaded litter box. Fortunately, kitty litter has come a long way in terms of a long lasting odour control, quick clumping, easy scooping, mess-free product. But it’s not something you want in plain view. There are many convenient options available that look great and keep everyone happy. The most practical one I’ve seen is a small cabinet with 2 doors on the front and a kitty entrance on the side. Inside there is a shelf about 6”-8” from the top to store cleaning cloths and litter disposal bags. The bottom section houses the litter box and a hook on the inside of the door holds the litter scoop. On top of the cabinet you could arrange a few cat-friendly plants such as Silver Vine, Cat Thyme or Catnip. These are actually healthy for your cat and will keep them away from your more prized houseplants. Place this unit next to your Kitty Condo with a basket of toys and a container of treats, and your kitty will be purring for hours on end.

Maybe when you have your special space all fitted out for your furry friends, you could send me some photos featuring your proud pets. It’s always wonderful to share the joy and even better when everyone in your house, including your pets, love their space.

Got a design question for Marie? Email your question to!

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