Designing With Pets

7-14-catsI admit it. There have been times when I’m so fed up with pet hair, I’ve considered dropping the idealistic notion that my house will ever be pet hair free. With all the dogs and cats running around our house, it can be overwhelming keeping that pet hair under control on upholstery, and sometimes I feel like the only way of getting rid of it is simply torching my sofa and their favorite chairs.

Of course, with the help of my vacuum that has the suction power of a small black hole and the brilliant lint attachment I occasionally feel like bronzing, I am able to get a handle on the pet hair and keep a tidy house. But I’ve come to learn that fabrics play an important role in keeping your house hair free and hiding the occasional regurgitation of the bug that kitty just devoured in the yard.

There are several important guidelines to keeping hair and stains off of your upholstery. The first and obvious one involves whatever agreement you have with your pets to stay off the furniture. But even if you’ve tried and tried, and just can’t resist Fido’s happy little face when he’s settling into the down cushions of your (and his) favorite chair, you do have some help.

If you’re not in a position to completely re-upholster every piece of furniture in Teflon (and let’s face it, every pet owner has had this thought once or twice), making simple covers or slipcovers out of outdoor fabrics that can be maintained on a daily basis, but whipped off when company comes over, not only saves your upholstery, but is an easy and inexpensive solution.

Outdoor fabrics are a breeze to maintain with pets running around. Not only can outdoor fabrics withstand water and those pesky UV rays from the sun, outdoor fabrics are easy to clean and are bullet-proof (a term I use with all of my pet-loving clients). With a vacuum or lint brush, hair lifts off of the fabric very easily, and soap and water will generally treat any dirt that gets on it. Some outdoor fabrics are durable enough to be thrown into the washer, but check first with the manufacturer.

Fabric companies have made incredible strides with outdoor fabrics in the last few years, offering up more selections with beautiful patterns and gorgeous colors. In fact, many of them look like they belong indoors on a formal sofa, while adding that toughness required for a pet household. Some new outdoor fabrics even have the hand, or feel, of soft cotton or velvet – it’s amazing! This gives the pet owner an opportunity to add color or a pretty pattern to the home’s décor, without compromising durability.

You can buy several yards of outdoor fabric and simply lay it on your sofa and chairs for protection; this makes it easy to pull off once company comes over. Sometimes fabric stores will have remnants of fabric that you can pick up at greatly reduced prices. Or you can even make the commitment and have a seamstress or upholsterer make custom-fit covers for Fido’s favorite chair – just make sure they have all the measurements, or even the actual cushion, to help make it the perfect fit. Either way, your sofa and chairs are spared, and your guests can still enjoy the beauty of your upholstery once the covers come off!

Nothing will absolutely prevent hair and stains from getting on upholstery, even if your pets aren’t allowed on the furniture. But it’s nice to know you have some weapons against it. The durability and easy maintenance of outdoor fabrics allow pet owners to keep the pet hair and stains under control while adding some attractive colors and patterns to the home.

July 9, 2009

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Erin Vosti Lal

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