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No longer are furniture companies content to offer you staples like a sofa, easy chair and bed. Now they have those items for your pet, too, designed not to clash with the rest of your decor.
Elegant furniture for pets is hardly new. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has an 18th century dog kennel in its holdings that was made for Marie Antoinette for her royal dog Coco. The “niche de chien,” of gilded beech and pine covered in velvet, features a swank interior lined in silk. Other pet furniture of the period resembled canopied beds or tabouret-shaped chairs. (Coco is said to have gone with the queen to prison during the French Revolution.)
In some homes, gone are the days when a plaid cushion tossed in a corner seemed just fine for a dog.
“Dogs and cats are no longer sleeping in mud rooms or outside. They’re in the family den and they’re full-fledged family members,” says Martha Stewart Living’s Editor in Chief, Elizabeth Graves. “People refer to themselves as pet ‘parents,’ not ‘owners,’ and they treat their pets accordingly.”
Casper says its dog bed offers “the perfect sleep environment designed and engineered around dog behavior,” and is made of “supportive and comforting foam.” Its decor-friendly outer covers run in gray, blue and sand — and in a range of sizes suited for dogs from tiny up to 90 pounds.
More in the spirit of Marie Antoinette’s bed for Coco, Pottery Barn offers a “Chesterfield Pet Bed” with a handcrafted wood frame, button-tufted back, nail-head trim, and a removable velvet cushion that’s waterproof and washable.
There’s plenty of inspiring furniture for cats, too.
With a more contemporary aesthetic, Crate and Barrel’s cone-shaped Nooee Toby Pet Cave, in pale gray felt, is designed to look “sophisticated and understated in the modern home.”
IKEA has recently introduced a line of pet furniture and accessories — Lurvig — made to coordinate with the company’s furniture lines for humans.
Says IKEA Designer Inma Bermudez: “I feel that my pets are the ones who can really take me to the present moment. When we share our time together, my head is more free and other worries and stress fall away. They teach us respect, and their unconditional love is priceless.”
The trick, designers say, is coming up with designs that look good to humans while meeting the comfort needs of pets.
“The biggest challenge is not to humanize pet products,” says Barbara Schäfer, a veterinarian who works in product risk assessment at IKEA. “It’s really important to use animal’s natural needs and behaviors like how they sleep, eat or play as starting points. Then we can design a product that fits in with our ‘human needs’ such as style and form.”
And pet furniture doesn’t stop at pieces meant for lounging. There’s an array of food and water dish pedestals and stands on the market.
“Especially for older pets, it can sometimes be hard for them to bend down,” says Graves, of Martha Stewart, which offers several DIY projects for cat beds and raised dishes.
Elevated dishes can also look more, well, elevated in a home setting than food and water dishes set on the floor.