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If you’re welcoming a dog or cat over the holidays, plan for the precious pet’s arrival just as you would a new baby. For many homeowners, pets are like a family member, and their comfort and safety are top design priorities. Thanks to Barkitecture, a surging pet-conscious trend in home design, architects and interior designers worldwide are dreaming up innovative ideas to seamlessly integrate practical pet features into a house’s aesthetic. From performance fabrics and flooring to custom built-in furniture bedding and food stations, you can deftly incorporate your pet’s needs into your home without sacrificing style nor turning it into a kennel.

Safe & stimulating pet spaces
As you would for a newborn, create a safe and stimulating space for your new pet. A nook or room boasting comfy bedding, a tidy toy box and fun water and food bowls can be functional and stylish. You can minimize furniture damage from unwanted chewing and clawing by using performance upholstery fabrics in neutral colors like brown, tan and taupe that camouflage scratches and accidents. Removable slipcovers and throw blankets that are machine-washable will protect your furniture and cover unsightly rips until you’re ready to invest in a new piece post the pet chewing phase.

Performance furniture upholstery fabrics are plentiful. Crypton® is an almost indestructible synthetic fabric that resists stains, odors and bacteria. Distressed leather is a great upholstery choice since it is easy to clean, dissembles scratches and offers great longevity. If you don’t want to use an animal-based product, pleather is faux leather with many of the same benefits but is less expensive. Denim and ultra-suede, a machine-washable microfiber, are popular upholstery fabrics because they feel smooth and clean well. 

Pet safety: plants to avoid
Before you buy indoor or outdoor plants, consult the ASPCA’s database of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants ( If you think your pet may have eaten a toxic plant, immediately contact your local veterinarian. The following is a list of some common household plants that are toxic for dogs and cats:
Hyacinth Bulbs
Jade Plants
Tulip Bulbs

Performance flooring best suits your pet, but it doesn’t have to skimp on style. Hardwood floors, laminated and ceramic tile, brick and painted concrete are attractive yet easy to mop and clean. You can minimize slipping and sliding by your four-legged friends with an indoor/outdoor area rug attached to a non-slip adhesive matting. Area rugs come in an array of styles, which can give your room pops of color and pattern.

In contrast, carpets trap odors and loose hair. If you have a wall-to-wall carpet, choose a low pile one, and place an area rug on top in high traffic areas. An area rug costs less to clean than the carpet itself. Vacuum at least twice a week, and bathe and groom your pet routinely (including nail trimming), not only for their well-being but also to reduce shedding and scratch marks. The Dyson DC14 Animal upright vacuum, which costs around $550, is great for sweeping animal hair.

Barkitecture design ideas
The Barkitecture design movement has produced innovative and chic features that make pet care a breeze. Consider these handy ideas:

  • Custom built all-in-one pet stations in a mudroom or laundry room: a lower cabinet drawer near a spigot converted into a hidden water and food station, which avoids messy spills and bowl tripping
  • A repurposed nook with a plush pet bed
  • A raised walk-in tile shower near an entryway to clean your muddy pooch or kitty after a romp outside
  • Airtight canisters hidden in a handy spot to house food, leashes and grooming gear
  • Design-forward pet crates and bedding can double as end tables and TV consoles, among other purposes. These custom-built crates and bedding are often tucked within kitchen island cabinetry or under a foyer stairway.
  • Handsome pet gates that spare your room doors from scratches and give you peace of mind knowing that your pet is safely ensconced in their dedicated area and not wreaking havoc somewhere else in the house 
  • Attractive pet doors that allow for easy access to fenced outdoor areas

Thanks to the Barkitecture kennel design competitions around the world, pet owners can choose from an array of design ideas to elevate their four-legged family member’s lifestyle without compromising their own. Welcoming a dog or cat into your home during the holidays has never been more seamless and satisfying.

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