Photo courtesy of Standard Pacific Homes.

Trends show that a growing number of people are incorporating dedicated living spaces for their animal companions into their home designs. Here are 5 cool ways you can do the same.

From learning a new trick to passing an obedience class, dogs and cats are celebrated for much more than just their birthdays nowadays. In a survey conducted last year, homebuilding company Ashton Woods found that more than 70% of future homebuyers are interested in incorporating dedicated pet spaces into their homes. This trend transcends multiple generations as Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers alike say they are looking for ways to integrate their companion animals’ needs and preferences into the comfort and luxury of their homes. Here are five ideas for creating special spaces in your own home for your canine or feline companion.

1. Feeding station and food storage

Food and water bowls on the kitchen floor look disorganized and can get in the way – especially when near high-traffic areas. Not only can haphazardly-placed bowls lead to messy floors thanks to an accidental kick or step, but bowls without proper traction can be sloshed around by messy drinkers and eaters.

Incorporating pet feeding stations into your cabinetry will give you a clean neat kitchen and prevent annoying accidents. A pull-out drawer with built-in bowls within the kickplate of the cabinetry is a nice hidden option, but keep in mind that it limits your animal’s access to water when it’s closed. A better option is to build out an open-access shelf at the end of a kitchen island or row of cabinets. This not only picks the bowls up off the floor, but also gives your dog or cat 24/7 access to water.

Incorporating feeding stations into your cabinetry will give you a clean neat kitchen and prevent annoying accidents.

Now let’s talk about storing pet food. We design pull-out cabinets for those decorative serving trays we never use – so why not incorporate a pull-out drawer to hide that five-pound bag of dog food, or flat of cat food tins? A pull-out drawer next to the feeding station can be an excellent way to keep everything easily accessible while ditching the eyesore. Built-in pull-out waste baskets offer a great solution for storing large bags of food.

2. Dog shower

If your dog is too big for the sink, bath time can become challenging. Washing Fido in the bathroom is a logical choice – except bathrooms are rarely located near entryways, which means muddy footprints and a second mess to clean up. Not to mention the logistics of getting a larger dog in and out of a tub!

Dedicated pet showers are all the rage. Ideally located near an entrance to your home, a dedicated pet shower in a mudroom will prevent hair, suds and water from getting into your living space while keeping all the dirt in one place. A detachable shower head makes it easier to hose down your dog and ensure all the suds are left in the tub, and not in his coat.

A walk-in shower will also eliminate the barrier issues posed by traditional tubs when it comes to older or larger dogs. Add a hook in the wall for your pooch’s leash, and you’ll be able to focus on scrubbing him rather than wrestling to keep him under the showerhead.

An elevated farmhouse sink makes a great wash area for smaller pups and cats, and eliminates the back problems and bruised knees that result from trying to wash animals in a normal tub.

3. Built-in sleeping area

Are you tired of staring at that big ugly kennel in the corner of your living room, or the pet bed in a spot that was clearly not intended for such a use – e.g. the middle of the hall floor? Your dog or cat will appreciate the coziness of a tucked-away space just for him.

Built-in beds underneath cabinets or shelves provide the cozy spot your companion deserves. Cabinet and furniture makers have also designed several ways to integrate stylish dog crates into home décor, including cabinet doors with crate-like metal mesh or coffee or side tables with built-in crates, to be used when needed.

4. Under-stairs nook

No one ever said the dog house had to be outside, and you certainly don’t need to knock down walls to create spaces for your animals. If you have a multi-level home, convert the space underneath your stairs into a special place for your companion so he can have alone time when he wants it.

With larger staircases, you could go as far as creating a complete room for your animal – including a bed, food bowls, and storage for toys (maybe even a small closet for those pet sweaters!). If you have a smaller space, a dog bed only needs three to five square feet, depending on his size. A decorative gate that matches your home décor turns this nook into a dog crate when needed. Don’t be afraid to get creative with those smaller spaces hidden around your home!

5. Cat adventure park

Open wall spaces are perfect for creating an adventure park for your feline. A variety of carpet-covered shelves placed high on the walls are sure to satisfy your cat’s love for heights. You can also consider clearing off multi-level shelves that are already in place. For another easy addition to your cat’s play area, find a decorative basket that matches your interior design style, fill it with blankets, and fasten it to one of the shelves.

As you can see, it’s very possible to integrate companion animals into the home environment without surrendering your sense of style. Utilize small spaces around your home, consult with your builder, and keep these ideas in mind when planning your renovation or shopping for your next home.


Leigh Spicher is the National Director of Design Studios at homebuilder Ashton Woods. She passionately believes in “designing happiness” into all homes. For more than a decade, she has been leading gifted design teams to help people build homes that reflect their personal lifestyles. She makes sure every home is built with essential design principles and emboldens unique character and high design. More importantly, Leigh ensures every home is designed with the personal stories of the owners (and their animals) in mind.