Out of the doghouse: Luxury home design for pets (and pet owners) is trending

| March 19, 2017

Gone, it seems, are the simple clapboard doghouses the likes of which Snoopy used to snooze in. In their place, as pet ownership rises in the U.S., are heated pet beds, Fido-friendly windows, and custom-built nooks and crannies designed within — not outside — pet owners’ homes. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, certain pet owners are taking their dogs’ needs into consideration as they design or re-design their human houses.

The trend is partially due to the upsurge in pet ownership. As of 2012, about 68 percent of U.S. households included at least one pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. (That figure jumped from 62 percent in 2010.) The amount people are spending on pets is rising too, with over $53 billion spent in 2012, compared to just over $41 billion spent in 2007. Another factor contributing to the upswing in pet-friendly design is the fact that people are getting married later in life, sharing their homes with a pet before sharing them with a spouse.

pet owners

Pet owners are going to great lengths to make their animals comfortable. From Nancy Xu.

The laundry list of pet-approved amenities would inspire a twinge of envy in even human friends: there’s the New York townhouse outfitted with a $45,000 “doggy eating and dressing station” and a grooming salon designed for its two small dog residents. Then there’s the 6,000-square foot Chicago house with a washing station (including heated stone floors and a “system of internal doors” that segregate the owners’ five dogs into their own areas).

Architects and pet owners often consult with dog trainers on home design. Austin, Texas-based dog trainer Steve Haynes has helped create a “shallow foot-washing and -drying system” for one family’s dogs, to prevent dirty footprints on the home’s white carpets. How does such a system work? “The dogs entered the home through a tunnel with about 2 inches of circulating water, and drying shammies,” reports the Journal. Haynes also worked with one owner of four Yorkshire terriers who split her home in half, with one half solely for accommodating the dogs.

pet owners are replacing the dog house with luxury accommodations indoors

Pet owners are replacing the dog house with luxury accommodations indoors. From Nannette Turner.

Condo- and apartment-dwellers can also take advantage of the trend, as developers have been accommodating pets much more than in years past. Says Darin Schoolmeester, a multi-family building architect, “It wasn’t that long ago where pets were considered a nuisance in a multifamily building or not even allowed in some cases,” he says. Schoolmeester is now designing a Los Angeles apartment that boasts a dog-grooming facility.

There are certain issues when designing for pets: animals can wreak havoc on floors and fabrics, and, in the case of certain design elements — such as catwalks and doggie doors — they may require special training to learn how to use the amenities. Another challenge: The prospect of eventually selling a home built with animals in mind. Homeowner and real estate broker Mario Greco, who built the Chicago home replete with an internal door system and washing station, explains: “I completely ignored all the advice I give to my clients and said, ‘You know what, screw it. We’re only going to do this once.'”

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