Creating A Special Space For That Special Pet


As the warm weather ends and cool temps begin, outdoor pups frolic less in the surf and more on the sofa. Out becomes in, and what dog owner doesn’t wish for a separate and equally comfortable indoor room for their beloved canine companion?

“Not sure where, but on the first floor,” Jimmie Dwyer of Westhampton Beach said of what he’d like to create for his 10-year-old champion Gordon setter, Sherman, who is named for the Civil War general.

“I would fill it with an elevated bed, a couch, racks for leashes and other things to occupy his time,” Mr. Dwyer said.

An informal survey of websites and contractors suggests that building a nice niche for a dog may be easier than many think. A former mudroom, unused guest room or even a closet can be transformed into a dog’s private abode.

The laundry room is usually the top choice to convert into a doghouse, it seems. Laundry rooms often have a tile floor and access to nearby water. In some new homes, dog owners will put down rubber flooring in the laundry room to keep it soft on paws and bare feet. A built-in permanent dog bed, a ceramic tile shower, food bins and shelving can cap off the space, still leaving room for the washer and dryer. If the laundry room is on the first floor, an outside door can be useful for quick wet entries and exits.

“I would love a ground-floor room with lots of windows and lots of soft squeaky toys,” said Tom O’Keeffe of Westhampton of what he’d like to provide for his 10-year-old dog, Pooch.

“A little swimming pool in the corner and pictures of girl dogs on the wall,” Mr. O’Keeffe continued. “A bowl of pig’s ears and large dog biscuits on the table and a soft bed or couch he could sleep on.”

With or without a swimming pool, a “dog house” laundry room budget can range from $500 to $5,000, but there are also other, relatively inexpensive ways of creating a separate indoor dog space.

Our pets love kitchens—especially when we are cooking. Any kitchen island can be notched out, and a bed installed in that space. When considering a new kitchen floor, weigh a pet-friendly specialty flooring that can resist nail scratches and moisture, cleans up well, and is comfortable—like Cork Vi-Plank, which can be easily installed. Pets spend much of their lives on the floor, and we spend many hours on our feet.

Consider the space under the stairs. In an already finished basement or an entry foyer, this area can go from a passive dead zone to a flourishing “bark-a lounge” with many comforts. It can be carved out for sleeping, have a breezy grille gate, and maybe even a small faucet for fresh water fill-ups if not far away from that half bath or kitchen.

Offering such a cosy nest can keep Fido or Fidette close but not too close to the mini sliders on party nights.

For that super-resilient dog bed, couch or pillow there are fabrics made by dog enthusiasts like the artist William Wegman—famous for his pictures of his Weimaraners—that resist urine, dirt, scratches and the general travails of a dog’s life. They even come in dog prints, of course.

Every room in a house needs finishing touches, and for our best friend this could range from piped-in music to engraved food bowls to custom portraits.

Whether the dogs are seen running on the beach, in a chair in their owner’s arms, in a Halloween costume or with Santa, framed large and small portraits of pets are one of the most popular pieces of indoor decoration.

“People want the portraits of their pets to hang the same way you would hang a child’s portrait. They like their photos to be prominent,” said Dee McMeekan of Westhampton Beach, a former attorney who is now a professional photographer specializing in dogs and cats. “For many people, their pets are their family … their kids.”

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