Style That Lasts – Pets today can have their own suites of fine furniture
Yorkshire terriers Paris Noel and Bella La Rue are two pampered pooches. They have their own bedroom decked out with matching four-poster beds, a closet filled with designer clothes, a matching toy chest, throws on the floor, and a car-shaped bed in front of a flat panel TV on the wall giving them their own drive-in movie experience
Yorkshire terriers Paris Noel and Bella La Rue are two pampered pooches. They have their own bedroom decked out with matching four-poster beds, a closet filled with designer clothes, a matching toy chest, throws on the floor, and a car-shaped bed in front of a flat panel TV on the wall giving them their own drive-in movie experience. There’s a webcam set up so that pet parent Valentina Bloomfield of Sacramento , California can keep an eye on them from her downtown office.
“They are my babies,” says Bloomfield . “They have so much doggy stuff; they really need their own room.”
“ Bloomfield is not alone,” says Liz Sand of Lulu and Luigi in Minneapolis , Minnesota .
“Creating a special room especially for your pets is the latest fad. Manufacturers are pandering to this trend so it’s not difficult to put together a theme that matches a specific dog breed or the interior design of the home. I have a client with three West Highland Terriers and they have their own room with a tartan plaid look that epitomizes the breed.”
“I’ve definitely noticed an increase in the demand for luxury pet themed furniture, says Spanky Macher of Spankyville Designs in Roanoke , Virginia . “The call isn’t only coming from empty nesters and singles but also from families with requests such as a surfboard-shaped pet bed to put in their teenage son’s bedroom.
“Pet lovers aren’t looking for gimmicks but for well made furniture items that will last and accent the home.”
Consequently, there’s a huge demand for items cater to a pet’s needs such as armoires, beds and pet steps with storage drawers, feeders that hold food and other related items and toy chests.
“Good pet furniture has to meet two important criteria. It has to be both functional and attractive,” says Dan Dietz of Animal Homes Inc in Huston , Texas . “It’s a matter of making the most of the space allotted to the piece. Also people appreciate an item of furniture that can be used by more than one pet simultaneously.”
Dietz has patented the design for his Animal House that functions as a crate with its own ionic filtration system and offers a second sleeping area on top linked by steps that fit along side the unit from different angles. The mesh door to the crate section is removable turning it into a standard sleeping area. Both sleeping surfaces are fitted high density memory foam.
“People appreciate pet furniture that they can use too.” says Dietz. “At the correct height an item can be used as seating and instantly becomes a multi purpose item of furniture rather than strictly pet furniture.
“I have lots of requests to customize cushions to match the drapes or fabrics in a room. This endorses the trend.”
While manufacturers say that pink and baby blue are still popular colors for pet furniture placed in a specific pet themed room, pet lovers are generally looking for items that blend with the interior design of the home and appreciate a white duco or natural wood finish.
The dog washroom and the cat washroom are functional units designed by Chantel Factor of Merry Pet Products in Markham , Ontario , Canada to conceal kitty litter boxes and puppy pee pads. The wainscoting panels in the units match typical bathroom cabinets.
“But they can also be used as bedroom night stand or a living room end table and the interior can be fitted with a comfy cushion turning it into a sleeping area for a pet,” explains Factor.
Factor says that traditional dog houses are also taking on a whole new look and are being designed to work as featured items of furniture both indoors as well as outdoors on patios and in a garden setting.
The company’s Room with a View offers pets a cozy sleeping area and an upstairs sundeck. The Bed and Breakfast unit is designed to offer a pet a bedroom and a lounging area and also comfortably accommodates two pets.
Also focusing on creating products that blend well with contemporary interior designs, designer Frank Woelfling of the Finest Fawski Company in Strasburg, Pennsylvania hand turns the wood legs of his raised feeders and offers customers Corian surfaces that blend with standard kitchen countertops. The products have the same mortise-tenon crossed pegged joinery found in high end furniture.
“Pets are part of the family and need to have their own place in the kitchen too and its understandable that proud home owners want an item that looks like its part of the kitchen,” says Woelfling who also makes raised feeders specifically for cats that fit on a kitchen shelf so that they can eat in peace out of reach of the family dog!
Nancy and Eric Swartzentruber of Wooster , Ohio have manufactured fine furniture for nearly two decades and recently launched a new line of pet furniture with the introduction of their Elegant Eatery. It’s an elevated feeder that resembles a small storage cabinet when not in use. It has a drawer that opens to reveal two stainless steel bowls.
“The idea is to keep the home looking neat and tidy when company comes over,” explains Eric Swartzentruber.
Many if the latest high end furniture designs are multi-pet and can easily accommodate both cats and dogs.
Manufacturers are also paying special attention to kitty condos in an attempt to make them both functional and intellectually challenging for felines.
“They should be far more than just an elevated place to snooze and a post to scratch” says Macher. “They should accommodate multi-cat households by offering a place to hide, a nice look-out at window height and various stations to allow cats to climb and play.”
Following on this theme of feline enrichment World Pet based in Phoenix , Arizona has produced a line of creative condos that can be assembled in ten different layouts.
The idea is to try and keep things interesting for the indoor cat,” explains sales manager Debbie Bell.
The units have all the functionality cats love such as climbing, hiding, playing and scratching zones in a variety of textures such as raw wood, carpeting and sisal as well as various sleeping and napping areas. Pet parents can take it a step further by re-designing the play station from time to time to keep things new and interesting for their felines.
Apart from being purchased by pet parents, many of these innovative furniture designs are also being utilized by up-market pet hotels around the country.
“It all part of the service of offering pet owners a home away from home for their pets,” explains Darrell Bivens owner of the Pet Palace in Houston , Texas . “Pets settle in much faster when they have a sleeping arrangement similar to what they have at home. Units such as the Animal House that offer an enclosed den-type sleeping area and an open sleeping area on top work well where one pet is more dominant than the other.”
Despite the trend of creating special rooms for pets, Sand says that many of her customers admit that their pets still like to sleep in the same room as their pet parents and that’s why more traditional pet bed designs made is soft luxurious fabrics will never go out of style.
“Colors like camel and chocolate are always top sellers,” Nancy Kline-Avera of Animals Matter in Los Angeles , California . “Classic shapes will always be popular. It’s simply a question of updating fabrics from time to time. Currently micro velvet seems to be replacing micro suede.”
The company is also using washable upholstery fabrics to cover their high density foam pet steps.
Pet steps are becoming ubiquitous in homes where there are either small or elderly pets and retailers say that many pet owners appreciate the functionality of having foam because its easy to move around and in many instances can withstand weight up to 250 pounds.
“This means that people can sit on them to tie shoes laces, use them as seats for small children and I’ve even seen them used as night stands,” says Kline-Avera.
And for pets that insist on sleeping on the bed, they can be given their own space with a faux mink blanket and matching cushion.
“People want for their pets whatever appeals to them,” says Elaine Voran of Puppy Hugger in Greenwich , Connecticut . “I’ve had customers ask for full-size throws for themselves to match their pet’s personal comfort zone.
The company also makes reversible crate covers that make a crate a more stylish accessory in the home. Recently they designed a special double pet bed that gives each dog its own snuggle zone.
“The human bed may be a bit cramped but at least as far as the dogs are concerned, two’s company and never a crowd!” says Voran.
Introduce new furniture designs by converting an area of your store into a room to show off how various items work well together.
If space is a problem, be sure to have a book of excellent photographs of items strategically place in typical home settings to show customers what is available and how these items may work in their own homes.
Hold a furniture exhibition weekend and invite designers to show off their latest styles.
This article is from Pet Product News International