Do you have a dog? Are you thinking about one? Then you may like a few tips for decorating with dogs in the house, many from my personal experience since I became the owner (still to be verified who owns who) of Geronimo, my sweet German Shorthaired Pointer.
First lesson: dogs think they are human! They stampede to the door when visitors come (they believe people come to see them of course, not you) so avoid draping fabrics on tables if you don't want the dog greeting guests wrapped in your precious tablecloth leaving a trail of broken china behind. Scatter rugs can also be a problem if the dog runs to greet guests at the door. Rubberized webbing, double sided tape or rubberized sheets cut to measure, all this can avoid scatter rugs to become, well, just scatter.
Most dogs have tails that wag and they could not care less when they knock over cups and glasses, spilling coffee or red wine from a side table. Stay away from little pedestal tables or plant stands and choose sturdy pieces of furniture with...yes...four legs. Some dogs, surprise, surprise, also steal the occasional piece of appetizer from a side table. Does that mean we should have taller occasional tables and smaller dogs? Chihuahua everyone? No, just good training and other options for your coffee and biscuits will help you and your guests relax. Side tables are also a better choice, since they can be pushed against the sofa and become more stable if you have bigger dogs. They give more space for the dog to lie down or walk around but if you feel that the space is too bare warm it up adding an ottoman and a nice rug.
Having dogs does not mean you can't have precious collections, just be sure they are displayed in safe places, higher than dog's tail and paws.
Dogs track in dirt, really? Oh yes! they also spill water and love you so unconditionally they don't care about a tidy, clean, orderly house, they show appreciation for your cleaning skills just like most husbands! So if dogs are allowed on furniture choose dog's friendly fabric, stay away from velvet, silk, ultrasuede and chenille. The best choice is a smooth fabric, like twill which brushes off easily.
Slipcovers are the best solution, made with pre-washed and preshrunk fabric, so you can wash it frequently, I would prefer light colors so you'll know when it is time to wash, don't try to disguise dirt, only try to minimize it, and of course avoid expensive damask or silk pillows, silk and slobber are not a great match, I discovered.
Choose floor covering with earth tones, to minimize dirt and scratches (this sounds weird but try to match the color to the dirt...) if you have tiles have pity of their joints and cover some areas with rugs. Carpeting is ideal but dirt will reign so a combination of floors is best, kitchen and entryway could use slate, which is not slippery when wet.
Wood floor is beautiful but slippery, so you can't play fetch inside, on the bright side you'll be forced to go out and walk more often. Always choose mid-tones, dark will show every hair, same for lighter wood color. Choose a very dense hardwood, because fir, cherry, pine and maple will show claw marks and scratches sooner than later. If possible have the floor sanded-on site, it gives better results than pre finished floors.
Add Oriental carpets or carpets with colors and patterns that help minimize dirt, hair and stains (always keep specific products handy if "accidents" happen and be sure to use those with ingredients that also take away any smell of...specially if you have a puppy not fully trained, unless you want him to go back to the same familiar spot).
A great vacuum will be your best friend, even if they think it is their worst enemy or at least Geronimo thinks so.
I could write more, and perhaps I will, but lastly, since dogs love short and long naps ...
unless you want them to take over the sofa, don't forget a few comfortable and stylish dog beds, the best for them to feel safe are the ones fully washable and shaped like doughnuts, with a soft roll around where they can put their sweet muzzle and look at you with adoring eyes.
Or be totally oblivious of your presence while dreaming of chasing squirrels.
I said it is preferable to have a few dog beds because we all know dogs love to be with us wherever we are so most of them will not like a single bed hidden around a corner, away from you.
Let them be part of your life in a dog friendly house.
Now I would love to hear from you about your "dog-house":
Do you have any tips to share? Any funny story? Geronimo would also love to hear them!
Photography of Geronimo by Albarosa Simonetti