Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Ikea, Casper mattresses and other popular furniture purveyors have lines for pets, often in styles that complement their human-size living room furniture.
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 behaviour,” 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.
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There’s plenty of inspiring furniture for cats, too.
The Ombre Cat Cave, made in Nepal by Dharma Dog and Karma Cat and sold by Crate and Barrel, is billed as an “artisanal cat cave” designed to “provide a comfortable getaway for your favourite feline.”
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 co-ordinate with the company’s furniture lines for humans.
“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,” says Ikea Designer Inma Bermudez:
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 Schafer, a veterinarian who works in product risk assessment at IKEA. “It’s really important to use animal’s natural needs and behaviours 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.
Elevated dishes can also look more, well, elevated in a home setting than food and water dishes set on the floor.