Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 12:35 a.m.
Home design has gone to the dogs.
So, throw out the scruffy blankets and smelly pillows. Think stylish pet furnishings that embrace just about every design fashion from cottage toile to rustic lodge, mid-century modern to arts and crafts, period French to Eastern.
Beds for canines are not confined to the obvious oversized cushions - but even those familiar forms are fancier, with fetching fabrics and details. There are metal and scrolled iron beds and wood frames in finishes from cherry to zebrawood to painted pine that include sleigh, trundle and four-poster styles.
Pet houses, beds and food stations often are simply scaled-down versions of furniture and accessories in our own homes, and that comes as no surprise. Many furniture designers also own dogs and get frustrated trying to find dog beds that complement their media-worthy interiors.
Consequently, there are fancy throws for the sofa and the car to protect from spills and odors. There are doghouses that range from Louis XV to pagoda styles and sassy pet cabanas for the garden and poolside. Those ubiquitous plastic crates have chic alternatives in woven rattan or sleek metal for the urban dog.
There are pet chairs and sofas, some with drawer storage beneath. There are chaises, some upholstered in fancy patterned brocades and punctuated with tassels on plush rolled arms.
Many designers believe pet accessories and furniture should complement home decor.
"It makes sense," says Eileen Chanin, founder of Calling All Dogs, a Web business she started seven years ago when there were only about 20 or 30 others like hers. Today, she says, there are almost 8,000.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, nearly 50 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog. In the past five years, the number of products and categories devoted to dogs has taken off.
Donna King, a co-founder of Room Service Home, a mail-order catalog and Internet resource based in Dallas, reports that dog showers and birthday parties have generated a new kind of business.
"People have showers to welcome new puppies," King says. "And they buy favors for dogs attending birthday parties, just like for kids."
From retail stores to catalogs to online sources, sniffing out the most fashionable products to make your dog feel at home can be an amazing odyssey. There's also a comfort factor. There are sound therapeutic reasons to make your pet comfy. It's better for their bones and joints if they curl up in something warm and soft than on a cold, hard floor.
Just how much you indulge your dog depends on how deep your pockets are. For cottage-style enthusiasts, a white woven-wicker basket topped with a ruffled pink-on-white floral and an old-fashioned chenille cushion is part of Rachel Ashwell's Simply Shabby Chic line at Target; it costs only $29.99.
At the high end, there's a $25,000 Louis XV bed from The Quintessential Pet. It is based on the design of an 18th-century French rosewood and mahogany commode and takes six months to handcraft.
It all gives new meaning to the expression, "putting on the dog."
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