Pet-Friendly Home Design

Pet-Friendly Home Design

Are your dogs treated as full-fledged family members? For many of the 4 in 10 U.S. households with dogs, the answer is “Yes!” From floor plan layouts to material selections to innovative amenities, pet-centric homes make life better for Spot and his owners. Studies show that seniors owning pets benefit from lower blood pressure, stress, and cholesterol, plus a healthier lifestyle resulting from the increased physical activity of walking their dogs. Pet-friendly designs may even be a deal-breaker when buying a home. A realtor.com® survey found 79% of pet-owning millennial home buyers said they would pass on an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet the needs of their pets. And, a recent survey from Wellness Natural Pet Food found, “26% of pet parents would consider moving to a new home to make their pet happier.”

Fiala Signature Space layout

Fiala #42281

Designing homes with dogs in mind starts with planning their transition space between indoors and out. Let’ s face it – dogs will have muddy paws. Therefore, hard-surface flooring is a must in that transition space. Tile may be best, as wood or vinyl will likely get scratched or gouged. Knowing that tile floor can get quite cold, some people opt for in-floor radiant heating to keep that floor – and their pooch – warm. Then there are aging issues. While your dog may be healthy now, many have difficulty climbing stairs as they get older. You won’t want to be carrying your 70-pound labradoodle that has arthritis up and down icy steps in the winter. Direct access to the outside near ground level is ideal.

The most popular locations for a Pet Center are in the rear foyer as you enter from the garage and/or near the exterior door your dog will enter/exit. Equipped with amenities such as a doggie shower and specialized storage, pet centers are a dog-lover’s dream! At 6-foot by 8-foot in size, the Fiala (#42281) home plan’s Signature Space, adjacent to the rear porch, is perfect for a pet center. The illustrated pet center concept shows a shower with floor drain, envisioned for bigger dogs. Homeowners with smaller pets may find an elevated pet shower/sink more comfortable. TV station FOX31 in Denver recently reported on a Zillow study that found pet showers have the potential of increasing a home’s value by 19%.

Under the Stairs Kennel Pet Gate ExtendedRoom to roam? Controlling where the dog(s) can go in the home is another issue. We spoke with homeowner Mike Hansen (Minneapolis, MN) who had multiple dogs in mind when designing their new home, whose mudroom doubles as their pet center. An open hallway leads into Hansen’s home from the pet area, but Hansen designed a lower cabinet door that swings out, partially closing off that hallway, and further installed a sliding gate on the back of that cabinet door to fully corral their four dogs in the pet area. The dogs are restricted to the main floor of their three-level home by wood bi-fold gates at the stairs. And, you don’t want planning where the dog beds and/or kennel(s) will go to be an afterthought. Hansen repeated the retractable gate idea in the doors of a 4-foot wide x 4-foot high x 18-inch deep kennel built into the hallway just off the pet center, where his two dachshunds sleep.

Don’t overlook storage. Just where are you going to keep dog food, hairbrushes, harnesses, and other pet supplies? Adjoining the Fiala design’s shower, there are pull-out storage bins (similar to pull-out wastebasket drawers) for dog food, storage above for treats, leashes, toys, and other supplies, and the food and water bowls in a toe-kick drawer at the bottom. Hansen’s pet center is similar, though he opted to utilize a tilt-out cabinet that can hold 40-pound bags of dog food. Don’t have room for a pet center? Consider a flip-up bench in your rear foyer. Handy for sitting down to remove shoes, the storage inside can be used for your pet products, extra food bowls, and dog coats.

Pet Shower Pet Center Pantry Door Pet bowls
Wise material choices can help eliminate frustration. As mentioned earlier, flooring is a major decision. Whether they see neighbor dogs out for a walk or are merely chasing a tennis ball, dogs sliding across wood floors is a recipe for scratches. Softer woods such as walnut and birch will scratch more easily than harder woods such as hickory. Bamboo is a great choice. Also, the lighter the wood, the less scratches will show. Tile is also a good choice. Ceramic tile is very durable, easy to clean, and non-porous. Concrete and some other stone floors are porous, absorbing urine and other “accidents.” Sheet vinyl, while easy to clean, can get scratched and gouged by your dog’s toenails; linoleum is a good choice.

Where you do have carpeting, consider a low pile, which is easier to keep clean. Pet hair gets easily entwined with carpet fiber, so a good vacuum cleaner is a must (Dyson offers a tool that attaches to their vacuum cleaners to vacuum loose hair off your dog before it even falls to the carpet!). Look for some of the newer carpets with advanced stain resistance. Shaw Floors carpeting with their LifeGuard® spill-proof backing keeps odor-causing pet accidents from soaking through to the pad and subfloor, which also makes clean-up easier.

Avoid flat paint on interior walls. The oils in your dog’s fur will undoubtedly rub off on the walls, causing shiny areas. The satin finish paint the Hansen’s chose for walls and painted cabinets shows less of the dog oils and is washable for easy cleanup.

Gotta Go! Whether you’re gone all day or just want to avoid the hassle of having to get up to let your dog outside, automatic sliding pet doors triggered by a sensor on your dog’s collar will open the motorized door as your pet approaches. When they get outside, is there a fence? Invisible fence? Dog run? Even well-behaved dogs can rarely resist chasing rabbits out of the yard.

If you’re the type who would sooner take your pet to the vet than yourself to the doctor, planning a pet-friendly home now will keep you out of the doghouse later!

Search for plans that feature a Pet Center(choose Pet Center under the “Other Amenities and Features” drop down), or contact a Design Basics’ Plan Specialist to learn more about incorporating a Pet Center into home design: 800.331.9223

Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor Entertaining

Whether it’s a front courtyard, expanded deck, or backyard barbecue, plan for outdoor entertaining when you are designing your new home!

What amenities would make that space conducive to how you like to gather with family and friends? Consider lighting, electrical outlets, and perhaps outdoor speakers. Think about storage for outdoor games and activities. Create a 3-5 year landscaping plan you add to each Spring in order to achieve the look you really want. And, carefully choose the access point(s) between inside and outside. For example, you won’t want to come in from the outside and step directly onto carpet with muddy shoes!

Maybe your space is small or you entertain/grill out often, but don’t want a full outdoor kitchen. You might consider adding a Chill ‘N Grill station. The Chill ‘N Grill is typically placed just inside the door leading to the grilling area and can include an under-counter refrigerator, prep counter, and storage for seasonings and grilling utensils. It is fast becoming one of today’s hottest design amenities!

Read about the Chill ‘N Grill and more design amenities in the HER HOME Magazine.

Signature Space™ – Garden Center

Signature Space™ – Garden Center

What is a Signature Space™?

Over the years we have often heard homeowners requesting specialized spaces to accommodate their own unique needs. Perhaps a hobby or craft room that isn’t an afterthought put together in a cold, dark basement storage room. Or, a handy space for storage and cleaning supplies where everything is in one place and you don’t have to go digging around in several closets to find something. Gathering up all the ideas, we created what we call a Signature Space™ – a small flex space/room that can be used however the homeowner wishes.

Fiala 42281A recent addition to the list of uses for a Signature Space™ is the Garden Center. Perhaps you don’t have an area outside for storage or a gardening shed, but you do like to plan a flower bed or vegetable garden and wish you had a dedicated space to work and store your supplies. Located near an exterior door, the Garden Center allows you to store your supplies and prepare for planting comfortably as well as have easy access to your garden.

Take for instance our Fiala (plan #42281) with its Signature Space™ located off the rear covered porch. There’s easy access from the Garden Center to the porch. Or, alter slightly and the door goes straight out to the porch!

Another plan with convenient access to the outdoors is our Sussex (view plan #42284) with a Signature Space™ right inside the rear entry from the garage. This location is also ideal in that a powder room is located directly across the hall to wash up before entering the house, in case your Garden Center does not have plumbing facilities included.

More stories about other uses for a Signature Space™ will be featured throughout the coming weeks, so check back for more ideas. In the meantime, take a look through our home plan library and see what sparks your interest! Search home plans here.

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