Great 'bark-itecture': How to Design Your Home for the Pampered Pet in Your Life

D esigner dogs are nothing new, but the reality of dog ownership is not terribly compatible with a designer lifestyle. Its not so much the canine companion, but the side effects. The veil of hair covering the furniture; the gnarled rawhide stick tripping you up underfoot; and the fringe on a rug, chewed while your back was turned for five minutes.

Dog beds and kennels tend to be made with indestructibility in mind rather than good looks, but these neednt be mutually exclusive, as a recent charity initiative demonstrates. The Blue Cross worked with the Outdoor Arts Foundation, an American non-profit, for BowWow Haus, an exhibition (and subsequent auction, which ends today) of barkitecture more than 60 dog homes created by architects, artists and designers. From the fabulously ornate to the quietly crafted, theres a kennel to suit most owners (and dogs).

Zaha Hadid Designs curvy plywood cocoon is for the slick, penthouse-owning banker with a weimaraner that gets walked by the concierge; willow sculptor Serena de la Heys woven dachshund-topped creation is for the country-dwelling sausage dog that wants for nothing. M ost of the submissions have clearly been huge labours of love. After a couple of days I did wonder why I couldnt have made a chihuahua house, says glass artist Sue Smith, who made her trademark intricate rainbow-coloured mosaics in kennel form.

The mosaic work took about four weeks, and I was very lucky that some of my past students and Facebook friends made and sent some of the roof tiles. It even includes stained-glass windows, and, like her sculptures, is robust enough to stay outside. These pet palaces are also fascinating as examples of architecture in its most diminutive form.

For Wenhui Lim, of Spark Architects, the initiative was a chance to test some research ideas and design at a completely different scale. The practice submitted two very different models, a social kennel for friends that can accommodate multiple pets, and an igloo-like structure made from recycled plastic bottles. They embody some of the Spark spirit inspiring environmental awareness, and having some design fun in the process, says Lim.

S ome examples act as remarkably good calling cards for the designers involved if they can make a dog kennel this good, what could they do with a whole house? Architect Chris Dysons arched structure has a simplicity that belies all the careful thought that went into it, from its sheeps wool insulation and electric oil heaters to keep a dog snug, to the little wells either side of the opening that hold food and water bowls. There are three little steps up, so it can levitate your pet to his own little architectural world, says Dyson, who had his springador Milo in mind when he designed the kennel.

Dyson is used to pet-centric demands being a part of a brief from a homeowner, and is currently working on a manor house where there will be an indoor play area for the three resident canines, with access to dedicated outside space, like a nursery for dogs. Its a really interesting aspect of house design. J ohn Pope, of luxury house builder Octagon, has also had some fanatic pet owners as clients.

One couple had a wire-fenced run circumnavigating their large garden for their two Bernese mountain dogs, screened from the house by laurels. We also recently installed an indoor, split-level dog shower, which comes complete with Hansgrohe brassware and Villeroy & Boch sanitary ware, against a backdrop of bookmatched slab marble, he says. One of the dogs is quite small, so sits on the top level of the shower, while the larger dog uses the lower level, meaning they could be washed at the same time with ease and in style.

J ude Tugman, of Architect Your Home, says that making sure any pets have a comfortable and allocated space they can call their own is very important, and if changes to the home are being made then its always a major consideration. If there is space, dog owners definitely like having a boot room, which can double up as the utility room. For a project to knock through and refurbish a kitchen in a house in Kingston Upon Thames, Architect Your Home incorporated fitted furniture that had enough space underneath for the homeowners two labradors, Alfie and Lola.

Before, their beds were under a work surface down one end of a very badly designed kitchen. I never really utilised the work surface as it was quite tricky with the dogs underfoot, says Helen Masters, the owner. I needed them to be well tucked away and give them somewhere to retreat when we have a house full of guests.

The dog unit, as it became known, is a fitted piece of furniture, similar to a console table, with enough space underneath for the dogs to lie down. I specifically wanted the sides to be solid so that it created a kennel-like environment for them, which in turn created a tidier-looking area. S adly, Lola died as the project got under way, but nonetheless Masters says that it has worked really well from day one, and Alfie uses it all the time.

Beds and feeding bowls in their own tucked-away areas, rather than taking up space on the kitchen floor, is an example of how good design can solve lifes minor domestic irritations, and kitchen makers are catching on to this. Mowlem & Co created a version of its Legacy kitchen with a recess at the bottom of the island for bowls, for example. Similarly, pet bed makers are getting more design-savvy, recognising that, while the dog wont mind a bed covered in cartoon bones, owners might.

S Cecil bed has a beech frame and washable cover in the same linen/cotton mix fabric used for its human seating, while online curtain maker Britannia Rose offers a dog bed in any of its huge selection of fabrics from the likes of Sanderson and Orla Kiely. Meyou makes classy furniture for discerning cats cosy, hollow felt balls sitting in a wood or metal frame that look like a piece of contemporary sculpture. Architects and interior designers have further suggestions for pet-friendly homes.

Designer Annabelle Holland recommends Charley Chaus raised wooden dog bed, painted in Farrow & Ball colours, as a chic option, while Daniel Caplan, the head of New i.d. Interiors, says: For upholstery, short-pile or flatweave carpets are the most animal-friendly in terms of shedding fur, while pattern and colour will be much better than whites and neutrals for camouflaging any stains or wear and tear.

Panel or shutter blinds are not the most animal-friendly option for interiors as animals will always run to the window to look out, and may break your blinds in the process; opt for curtains or roll blinds instead. B rian Woulfe, of interiors studio Designed by Woulfe, says that when it came to designing his own home, it had to be suitable for Chow Mein, his one-year-old chow chow. There were some serious dog-proofing considerations to make.

I specified very light wooden flooring, which had to be scratch- and stain-resistant; it features lots of spiralling grain patterns, which mask any scratches. The rug in the living room protects the wooden flooring, but it came with its own set of considerations I ended up with a rug 10 times less expensive than the one I originally wanted. The colour works brilliantly in the room, and I dont feel precious about my dog potentially chewing on its corner, which hasnt happened yet.

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