In the dog house: Interior designers reveal how to have a dog-friendly home

Muddy paw prints? They’re welcome in the ultra-chic homes of these top interior designers.

You’d think that dogs and interior designers would find it impossible to share a stylish life together, because, practically speaking, a French Regency chair upholstered in silk, and a few muddy paw prints would seem like a bad mix.

Designer Carolyne Roehm, who has six dogs – Beethoven, Dusty, Baby Monkey, Lucky, Trollop and Teddy Bear – has a clever idea for protecting soft furnishings. ‘When I’m covering sofas and chairs, I buy extra fabric to make dog covers. Then when they get dirty, I send them to the dry cleaner’s.’ For a similar sofa try; sells paisley and Liberty print dog blankets. Image: Stacey Bewkes

Yet I can’t think of a group that embraces the often crazy and chaotic canine world more. Why? Because interior designers, of all people, understand that beautiful rooms aren’t beautiful at all if they lack soul. And what’s more soulful than the sight of your dog joyously greeting you at the front door with its tail wagging furiously, or soothingly curled up at the foot of your bed? Dogs can make your home feel more complete than the most chic carpet or curtain ever could. Designers know this as surely as they choose between a solid and a stripe.

Carolyne’s wheaten terrier Teddy Bear, above. ‘I do sleep with my pups,’ she admits. ‘They all have their own special spot. I protect my bed by making a dog cover in the same fabric as the bedding or find a coordinating lightweight fleece’. Image: Stacey Bewkes

You won’t see precious purebred lapdogs on these pages. Instead, you’ll meet dogs of all pedigrees and personalities, often rescued from shelters, living large (no matter how small) at home. They snooze, feast, romp, cuddle (and, yes, sometimes have accidents) in some of the most stylish rooms in the world.

Designer Mary McDonald finds it hard to keep track of her pugs Jack, Lulu, Boris, Eva and Violet, who like to hang out as a pack. ‘They make me laugh with their antics – and drive me crazy as well,’ she says. ‘I allow them to sit on every sofa and chair and most of the time some or all of them sleep with me. Things I wouldn’t easily forgive in a human – such as gnawing on a signed piece of 18th-century furniture (I know humans don’t exactly do that, but you get my drift) – I forgive in my dogs’. Image: Stacey Bewkes

When I sent out a letter inviting some of the world’s best designers to participate in my book At Home With Dogs and their Designers, I heard back from all of them within the hour (some just minutes) with a resounding ‘Yes!’ If I’d asked them to feature in a book called The Most Chic Rooms Ever, I doubt they’d have jumped so quickly. I think that because, as exciting as it is to have work published, deep down we all want to share and celebrate our love for family even more.

Image: Stacey Bewkes

And it is important to remember that there are still so many deserving dogs who haven’t yet found a home. I hope the amazing images on these pages inspire you to make a home for one of the thousands of dogs already out there who are waiting to give love – and rescue us in return.

Designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard’s wheaten terrier Daisy Olympic Green (initials DOG) rules his roost. ‘I often use outdoor fabrics and rugs indoors,’ he says. ‘Today’s techniques offer chic choices that allow my luxe look to prevail while giving owners assurance that even if their dog does have a mishap, all will be fine due to easy-to-clean materials. Image: Stacey Bewkes

How to have a super-smart home – that’s dog-friendly too

    • Avoid fabrics that attract pet fur such as velvet, mohair and velour – opt for smoother ones such as leather and synthetic fibres. Invest in quality textiles to withstand the test of time and claws. Designer Kelly Wearstler recommends working with the dog. For example, if they shed hair frequently, the upholstery and bed covers should match their coat colour. 
    • Hardwood floors stain, dent and scratch quickly. They also require rapid cleaning should a puddle appear. Laminate, stone or ceramic floorings are best for pets as they are more hard-wearing. If you have your heart set on wood, however, choose mahogany or oak.
    • Interior designer Jonathan Adler keeps his dog’s toys in shallow baskets dotted around the house, so that they are accessible by dogs and humans alike; sells a wide selection of storage boxes.
    • Hanging leads on high hooks keeps them out of the way and from getting tangled. Mary McDonald also recommends choosing the right weight and length of lead for your breed of dog.
    • Think about the wall finish. A highly textured wall will attract pet fur, even if your four-legged friend isn’t rubbing up against it. Go for a satin or semi-gloss finish as it makes it easier to scrub off unwanted stains.
    • Interior designer Mark D Sikes advises matching dog beds to existing decorating schemes for style coordination. For example, if you have a striped rug or a certain colour of paint on the walls, buy a dog bed in the same colour or pattern.
    • This one sounds obvious, but wash your pet regularly. Dirt removed through grooming is dirt that isn’t trailed around the house. However, pet shampoo can be harsh if used too frequently; after walks, quick wash-downs with plain water are better. Use a dark towel for drying.
    • Fabrics and furnishings can be treated with nontoxic protective sprays and coatings that repel watermarks and stains and provide easy cleaning of even the most delicate of materials, advises designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard.

This is an edited extract from At Home with Dogs and their Designers by Susanna Salk, published by Rizzoli, price £25. To order a copy for £20 until 21 April, visit or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15

Shop the look

Pooch-tastic pieces that don’t stint on style

Bow tie, £13.95,

Dog carrier, £185,

Baskets, £142 for two,

Dog bed, £195,

Storage unit, £295,

Dog lead, £120,

Automated dog-treat dispenser, £249,

Dog bowl, £25,

Quilt, £119,

Jumper, £45,