They go by names such as Fluffy and Fido and they are the family members who purr, meow, woof and bark.
But they also challenge a homeowner to keep the house free of pet hair and embarrassing biological messes on the sofa.
To the cats and dogs in your domicile, the perfect home is one that is designed by you but belongs to them.
Ones where pillows feature words such as "meow" and "bow wow" instead of monograms are preferable. And if the phones purr or bark instead of ring, all the better.
Chances are no one recalls who let the dogs in, but in the last 20 years, your house and the dog house have become the same place. The American Pet Products Association shows that in 2009, 62 percent of all homes own a pet, which equates to 71.2 million homes with animals. Of that, 45.6 percent are dogs and 38.2 percent are cats.
Now, new products make sharing that space much simpler. Opportunities to have home furnishings that are attractive, sometimes luxurious and that furry friends are welcome to use are all around.
In addition to purchasing furnishings guaranteed to take abuse from animals, there are design tips that can be used by homeowners whether they hire a designer or are do their own decor. Those who want to add pieces to make their house more of a home for their pets have plenty of options as well.
New line of furnishings
Last spring, Debbie Wiener, former Dog Fancy magazine style editor, launched a furniture collection called Slobproof! She says neither spills, stains, fluid nor bacteria will penetrate the upholstery and the pieces will remain odor-free.
Her small Maryland-based company, also called Slobproof!, backs up the claims with a five-year warranty on fabric and lifetime warranty on frames and cushions (www.slobproof.com).
The chairs, chaises, sectionals, sofas and ottomans are upholstered in a soft grade of Crypton, a fabric used in hospitals and other commercial settings, Wiener says.
The furniture also has met environmental standards designed to control chemical emissions that can pollute indoor air, she says. All of the materials used to make the furniture, manufactured in North Carolina, comes from the United States.
Wiener, also author of "Slob Proof: Real Life Design Solutions," says family, not pet messes, prompted her to design the furniture. Her husband's pizza and soda spills kept ruining their furniture, she explains.
Wiener also says the furniture's properties, however, make it perfect for a home where pets also lives.
The soft twill, suede and woven fabrics used as cover pieces, includes lines with sophisticated sounding names such as Bedford, City, Metropolitan and Park Avenue.
Pieces of Slobproof! furnishings range from about $200 for ottomans up to about $4,000 for a sectional sofa and can be purchased on the company's website.
Fabrics, which also can be purchased on the site, cost from $43 to $78 a yard.
Locally, Michelle Pollak, of La Petite Maison, designs interiors that can accommodate both human and pet family members.
The Mount Pleasant-based interior designer and self-described "pet mama," inquires as to how pets as well as people will use rooms before coming up with a design plan.
That helps create beautiful settings for clients' homes that are not high-maintenance.
One thing Pollak will do is design scaled-down furniture for pets that complement their owners' furniture, she says. Her cat and dog furniture are custom-made for each client and usually are designed for formal environments. They are made to fit perfectly in those spaces where homeowners entertain and the typical pet bed would be out of place.
Pollak recommends that pet parents purchasing furniture for their homes should always buy tailored slipcovers. They can be removed and cleaned if a pet has an accident. To avoid having to clean pet hair from those pieces once or twice a day, purchase furniture that is the same color as the pet's hair.
Also, choose furnishings with textured fabric, which also help to hide stains.
Wood and stone are the best materials for flooring in a home with pets, says Pollak. She prefers wide plank wood floors that don't have to be fussed over.
And as they wear, a certain amount of character and family living shows through. She cautions against selecting a high-gloss finish for wood floors because every paw scratch will show.
In addition, stone flooring is very good because it is easy to clean and will look great after many accidents, Pollak says. Just be sure not to choose a stone that is very porous, says the designer.
Those who absolutely must have carpeting should choose wool because it is naturally stain resistant and repels allergens, she says. Wool rugs can be used to soften a stone floor.
Protect pets by selecting ones not treated with chemicals because those will emit gases that are not good for animals, the designer says.
Mission-style wood gates, wrought iron ones in a number of styles are at Orvis and cost about $100 to $300. Orvis also has dog treadmills with adjustable inclines and variable speeds. They are designed to help pets exercise and curb destructive behavior. They sell for $550 to $850.
One product, the Condo Canine Tray, is for those who prefer not to take pets on bathroom breaks during inclement weather. It features a drainage system marketed as easy-to-clean. The tray is available at www.cosmopolitancanine.com for $129.
When your kitty climbs, she might like to have a cat tree in a design inspired by Hollywood, a Safari, or the city of Shanghai from www.kittymansions.com. The company's trees are around 6 feet tall and feature platforms, bedrooms and scratching posts covered with sisal for durability. Their prices range from $200 to $500.
Enclosed litter boxes made of bamboo, rattan and woods can be found at www.allpetfurniture.com. Some have features such as padded pet benches on top or drawers for storage from about $100 to $250. Litter boxes that function as night stands on the company's site start at around $100.
Polypropylene rugs mats with fibers that help remove mud and moisture from paws and can be hosed off for cleaning are a popular item. The durable rugs, once associated with fake grass, can be found in colors and styles that match almost any decorating scheme.
Cleaning them can be as simple as hosing them down. Look for them where rugs or pet furnishings are sold. Room-sized ones start at around $75 and go higher depending on size, style and quality.
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.