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Christine Tusher
Dog's Life: Home & Garden
Five Dog-Friendly Finishes — Plus Five You Should Avoid
Save your sanity and your decorating budget by choosing materials and surfaces that can stand up to the test.

It’s a common situation for pet owners and parents alike: You buy a brand-new couch thinking you’ve purchased a truly indestructible piece of furniture, only to watch it be destroyed within a matter of months by your pet or child. It’s enough to make you feel like you’ll never be able to rectify your love for your family members, furry or not, with your yearning to create a beautiful home. Not to mention the pain it inflicts on your bank account.

There are a few simple things animal lovers can do to keep pets from damaging their homes. Accidents aside, most scratches and bite marks happen because of boredom. Scratching posts, chew toys, basic pet training and plenty of outdoor playtime will go a long way toward keeping your pet happy and your furnishings unscathed. Most dog trainers also recommend creating a comfortable enclosure for young pups, because this helps with house training and keeps them from chewing on dangerous objects.

Still, a surprising amount of damage can occur whenever you turn your back for a few seconds. With that in mind, here are 10 tips for selecting finishes that survive pet- and child-related wear and tear.

Love it: Leather

Accidents and spills wipe up with ease on the only furniture material that looks better with wear. But while leather is great for homes with dogs and children, cat lovers may want to avoid it, as there’s no way to repair a shredded leather couch. 

If leather isn’t in your budget, consider microsuede. This ingenious, durable fabric wipes clean with a damp cloth, so you can easily deal with even the muddiest paws.

Leave it: Hide rugs

Not only can spills and pet stains permanently mar it, but some dogs have trouble distinguishing a hide rug from their rawhide chew. It’s also a no-no in high-traffic areas, as the hair thins with wear.

 

Photo by Ana Williamson Architect - Search contemporary landscape design ideas

 

Love it: Concrete paving

Available in just about every size and at many price points, pavers are a great way to create a playspace for kids and pets that always looks neat. Set them flush so kids can enjoy bikes and push toys, or leave a gap of a few inches and add plantings, as in this photo, to create a greener look. 

Just be sure to ask your installer about sealing. Pavers can become stained by dirt and standing water over time.

Leave it: Gravel

Unless you’d like to embark upon a second career as a gravel sweeper, this is one to avoid. While gravel certainly goes a long way toward forgoing a pet-stained lawn, even larger pebbles can get kicked up during playtime, dinging your doors, getting caught in the slats of your deck and getting caught in paws and shoes, which inevitably leads to damage to indoor flooring.

 

Photo by Samuel Design Group - Search contemporary kitchen design ideas

 

Love it: Ceasarstone

This gorgeous quartz countertop has the look and feel of granite without the worry of chipping and scratching, making it perfect for junior sous chefs. Waterfall-edge details are also great in areas that need to be protected against particularly rambunctious pups or aggressive chewers.

Leave it: Hardwood

I know, I know. This is a tough one. But with pets and kids, you’re almost guaranteed to have to resand hardwood floors at some point. 

If hardwood floors are a must in your home, be sure to keep your dog’s nails short and to clean up spilled liquids and pet accidents promptly. This can go a long way toward extending your hardwood floor’s longevity.

 

Photo by Paul Davis Architects - Browse modern deck ideas

 

Love it: Ornamental grass

Hardy grasses are a great way to incorporate greenery without worrying about Fido staining it or digging it up. And as a bonus, you’ll never spend another Saturday mowing the lawn.

Looking for a more traditional alternative? Wide-leaved fescue and rye hold up better to traffic and are more resistant to the chemicals in dog urine that can cause spotting.

Leave it: Cedar decking

While it can be absolutely stunning, cedar can be easily marred by dog nails, snow shovels and active children.

 

Photo by Chicago Green Design Inc. - Browse traditional landscape ideas

 

Love it: Faux turf

Gone are the days when installing synthetic grass meant transforming your lawn into something resembling a hokey mini golf course. The new turfs are more realistic and just as durable. 

This homeowner made the synthetic grass look even more realistic by keeping the turf area small and breaking it up with other finishes.

Leave it: Microtopped concrete

The luster and depth of a concrete microtopping is surely covetable, but it’s not great in houses with big dogs or rambunctious children. Daily traffic can create deep scratches that aren’t erased by the regular resealing this finish requires.

Dog's Life: Home & Garden
8 Contemporary Canine Decorating Ideas
Celebrate your furry family member in a contemporary or modern setting with these 8 decorating ideas
Dog Themed Wallpaper - Designs - Dog Silhouettes

You’ve added his daily walks to your routine, and you can always, always take time out for a belly rub. But incorporating your dog into your contemporary or modern decor might be the one of the biggest challenges of pet ownership (besides getting him to stop eating the cat food).

Here are eight ways to celebrate your canine in style.

1. Think small. Small spaces like this bathroom are great places to experiment with quirky wallpaper. Just don’t add too many competing pieces; this Osbourne & Little paper works because the room follows its simple black and white motif, punctuated only occasionally with pops of yellow.

 

Photo by Playing Sublimely - Browse traditional kids' room ideas

 

2. See things through a child’s eyes. The family dog is one playmate your child will never tire of. Let your little one celebrate his or her buddy with a mix of dog-themed artwork and pillows. Silhouettes keep things looking clean (even when the bed is unmade), while illustrations add whimsy.

 

Photo by SchappacherWhite Architecture D.P.C. - Browse contemporary dining room photos

 

3. Focus on Fido. Your dog is a central figure in your life. So why not make him the focal point of one of your most-used rooms? Artist Bill Sullivan created this painting for a family of loft-living New Yorkers. Industrial accents, a limited use of color and leaving the portrait unframed keep the room casual and understated.

 

Photo by BROWN DAVIS INTERIORS, INC. - Browse contemporary staircase photos

 

4. Consider placement. This pack of rustic wood dog sculptures could easily seem out of place in such a clean, modern home. But placing the pack so that it’s emerging from a makeshift den gives these sculptures context.

 

Photo by Emily Elizabeth Interior Design - Look for contemporary living room design inspiration

 

5. Mix and match. Eclectic rooms are great places to let your decor speak to who you are — particularly if you’re a dog lover.

 

Photo by Tiffany Eastman Interiors, LLC - More shabby-chic style home office ideas

 

6. Go vintage. Humankind has celebrated its best friend for centuries, so spend some quality time at your local flea market and source a vintage find, like this gorgeous black statue of a greyhound in recline.

 

Photo by G. M. Roth Design Remodeling, Inc - Search contemporary exterior pictures

 

7. Have an outside dog. After you take enough morning walks and trips to the coffee shop with your best friend in tow, it’s funny how people begin to use your dog as a reference point for getting to know you. A canine-themed art piece like this one by Dale Rogers is a great way to mark that this is where Buster lives … and so do you.

 

Photo by Laura Bohn Design Associates - More contemporary family room ideas

 

8. Embrace the unexpected. Like the time your pup scaled a 6-foot wall in a single leap, an unexpected detail with a canine twist — like this pair of balloon dogs — is a great way to mix things up. To make your statement piece blend in a little more, choose something that fits the room’s general color palette and feel.