Doggy Style

Doggy Style

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Like many Colorado residents, I am very dedicated to my dogs. I have special wood steps allowing them access to my (and their) bed, my shower was specifically designed to accommodate a detachable head (for bathing), and the car remains filled with hair and Mt. Sanitas dust no matter how often it’s cleaned. However, one place that I won’t allow to go ‘to the dogs’, is the inside of my home. Living with dogs and all that entails (shedding, toys, food bowls, beds) does not preclude your ability to live with style. The following details how to keep the style integrity of your home intact despite your 4-legged children.

TOYS– Like children’s toys, doggy playtime accoutrement need their own container, and unfortunately, dog store brand toy bins are eyesores. The solution is to take something created for humans and use it for dogs. In that vein, West Elm makes fabulous woven and braided baskets in a variety of styles designed to hold newspapers, throw pillow, logs, and (you now know) dog toys. If your pup is a scratcher or destroyer, Design Within Reach makes a stainless steel wire basket that won’t be nearly as tempting to their mouth and paws. Another great idea is repurposing a wooden wine crate. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, Etsy or Ebay lists vintage ones. Just make sure to pick a good year.

BED– Designing for canines (and their people) has become a huge industry, with the quality and variety of dog beds serving as its ambassador. While we know that dogs don’t give a lick where they sleep, we should care about how it looks. With options ranging from Corbusier inspired sofas to specially ordered chaises, I’m simply suggesting the popular and reliable donut bed in a chic (and always machine washable) neutral color or animal print, available at most pet ‘boutiques’. For some extra panache, go with the shag.

SUSTENANCE– Like everything else in the canine retail world, dog food and water bowls have become increasingly stylish, personalized, and fabulous. From simple ceramic to modern metal, breed-specific, name-specific, cute or kitsch, styles range from gothic to neo-classical, mid-century to mod. Even the most basic white painted ceramic is light years more stylish than the standard (and unsightly) stainless steel bowls. Set atop a placemat (doggy or human), if your dogs don’t appreciate the effort, your friends and guests certainly will. Manhattan’s Canine Styles offers the best selection.

Transparency In Design

Transparency In Design

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Over the last 6 years working in interior design, I’ve realized that the worst stereotype of the industry does still apply: interior designers make you spend too much money. What’s worse is the corollary: interior designers make you spend too much money so they can make more money. While this is not true of all designers (or even most of them), I have been seeing it on some recent projects and it upsets me. Below is a guideline for anyone thinking of enlisting a professional, whether it’s an independent designer or one working for a store.

*If you’re interviewing independent interior designers, the key issue is transparency. You need to know from the very beginning how this person is being paid and by who. Most importantly, ask if the designer takes a commission or includes a mark-up on the items you buy. Many talented and ethical designers will do one or the other and would never recommend something wrong or unnecessary for the space simply to collect a check, so it certainly shouldn’t be a disqualifying issue; However, when I see a room with enough furniture and decor to fill out two rooms, I start to be suspicious. You should too.

*If you’re working with a designer employed by one of the big name home stores like West Elm, Crate & Barrel, etc. transparency can be a little trickier- their job is to sell so you can hardly fault them for pushing the product. My recommendation:

  1. After completing the room’s plan (including everything they recommend you buy), ask them which 3 items they could remove and still achieve the desired functionality and style.
  2. Ask where to cut price corners. In every room, there are big ticket items you should splurge on* as well as those you can find for much less. I’ll tell you right now that if a designer insists you should be splurging on side tables or lamps when you’re on a tight budget, I would be very suspicious.
  3. Examine logically how many pieces of furniture they’re saying are necessary. A living room does not need a side table for every seat or multiple coffee tables (even if you have two sofas). A master bedroom does not need a seating area if you know it won’t get used. You don’t need a degree in design to know that 4 side tables in one room is excessive.

 

*Generally speaking, the largest piece in any room is where you should be spending the most money.