For most of us, our pets are family. We let them sleep in our beds, ladle nutritional supplements on their organic kibble, and throw birthday parties for them. In fact, we love our animal companions so much that we even choose a home and a home design for pets.
These numbers tell the story. Forty-three percent of pet owners say they’d move to accommodate their pet, according to a 2021 study from the National Association of Realtors. What’s more, 68% of pet owners surveyed by realtor.com say they’d pass on an otherwise perfect home that didn’t meet their pet’s needs.
According to the same survey, nearly 95% of pet-owning respondents say their furry companion plays a role in selecting a home.
Here are some pet-friendly features that will make a home more welcoming for animals.
A Pet Bathing Station
Washing a dog in a normal bathtub can be miserable. Even if your pup is groomed regularly, you still need to clean them up after they romp at the dog park or roll in mud in the yard. One solution is to build a grooming station in your home for quick cleanups.
For larger dogs, you can install a commercial grooming tub with a hand sprayer or a walk-in shower that will accommodate your pet. The location is flexible: A grooming station can go in a laundry room, mudroom, or garage.
Pet Proof Flooring
Accidents happen, even with the best-behaved pets. That’s why floors with a hard, impermeable surface make your life easier. Think tile, hardwood, terrazzo, cement or laminate. Stay away from the wall-to-wall carpet. Carpets soak up pet stains, so they’re a bad idea.
Adding wood floors to your home increases monetary value, too. The National Association of Realtors 2022 Remodeling Impact Report says new wood floors bring a 118% return when it’s time to sell the house.
Built-in Pet Beds
Pet beds tossed about your house are unattractive and consume valuable floor space. The alternative is building pet beds into cabinets, shelves, and other pieces of furniture. You can build a pet bed into the bottom shelves of a bookcase or into a kitchen or mudroom cabinet. Or tuck it under the stairs.
If hiring a cabinetmaker or carpenter to build a seamless pet bed isn’t in your budget, you can also buy pet beds that look like furniture. You’ll be happier with the way your pet bed looks, and your pet will have a permanent space.
Built-in Pet Gates
You don’t want your pets to go into certain places in your home, and most of us keep them out with baby gates. Plastic baby gates are flimsy and unattractive. A better option is a built-in gate.
You can hire a cabinetmaker to build a custom pet gate for a door that’s mounted to a door jamb on hinges. Or you could make a pocket door-style pet gate that slides into the walls. Can’t afford custom work? Consider pre-made upscale pet gates that you can mount to a door jamb or staircase.
Just like humans, dogs and cats can get too old to easily navigate the stairs. If stairs are separating your pet from the outdoors, build a ramp from the door to the yard to make your house accessible as they age. You can hire a carpenter to construct the outdoor ramp for dogs.
Be sure you design it at an angle they can navigate. Small or short-legged dogs — like basset hounds and corgis — may need a ramp to navigate the stairs even when they’re young.
Enclosed Paint Patio
Also called a catio (cat + patio,) these outdoor enclosures provide a safe place for your cat to play outside. The structure, with a roof and four walls, keeps your cat safe and unable to harm wildlife. Catios can range from window-box sized ones to lanai-sized ones large enough to enclose a patio with human seating.
Built-in Pet Doors
Those pet doors with the rubber flaps and plastic frames that you hack into a door can be flimsy and straight-up ugly. Fortunately, sturdier and more aesthetically pleasing alternatives are available. You can get exterior doors with built-in pet doors. Integrating a pet door into your home’s design is better for you and your pup because it’s more permanent, secure, and lovely.
A meadow-like grassy yard enclosed by a secure fence is the holy grail for pet owners. An outdoor area for their beloved animals to play safely is why pet owners leave lofts in the city for single-family homes in the suburbs.
A fenced-in yard is near the top of most clients’ list when they’re looking for dog-friendly features. There’s no substitute for a safe place for your animals to spend time outdoors.
— Bob Walsmsith Jr. is the 2022 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR). He is a California licensed real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties here in Santa Barbara. He has served on and chaired several committees within the SBAOR, and served on its board of directors for the past five years. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and [email protected]