Life with pets: They frustrate you, they make things messy, but you can’t help loving them anyway.
After years of DIYing with the world’s greatest sidekick, who likes to be in on the action at all times (even when I’m on a ladder or using an air compressor), I tend to pause whenever I see a cool idea for making Charlie feel more at home in the middle of chaos.
I have a long list of favorite ideas for pet-friendly home features, but these are at the top:
I used to think having a fancy food bowl setup was one of those nice-to-have things that I would get around to making for my pup eventually. But little did I realize, this was one of the more impactful tweaks I made this past year, and it really changed some of the everyday annoyances I’d been dealing with for years.
Charlie had a long-standing habit of constantly flipping over her food bowl before eating, and I hated the way stray bits of food would wind up scattered across my floor in the process. But once I built her a food bowl stand that also fit my design style, it made the house so much cleaner.
It was like boom! She stopped flipping, and I stopped flipping out. I regret so much that I hadn’t done this sooner. There are lots of DIY feeder options out there, including ones that suspend from the wall, ones that include food storage below the bowls, or ones that look like mine — that just look pretty nice in the kitchen.
Now that I finally filled in my backyard this past year, I have lots of DIY outdoor projects on my task list. Adding one more: This DIY “dogzebo” from my friend at the "House of Wood" blog! I’m not sure I could get Charlie to sit still long enough to be my model like her dog did, but I know the perfect corner to add this.
I used a retractable baby gate when Charlie was a pup. It was useful to help train her, but not all that aesthetically pleasing (nor was the linoleum floor she chewed up when she had to be kept in “puppy jail”).
If I could go back in time, I’d rather have had something that suits my style a little more, like this gorgeous custom-designed gate over at the "Yellow Brick Home" blog. Unfortunately, Charlie’s a little too big to be deterred by a gate anymore, but this would still be a great build for owners with small pets (like my parents' . . . maybe next year’s Christmas gift?)
Charlie has a bed of some sort in virtually every room of my house. She likes to follow me around no matter where I’m hanging out, and I like to have a place where she can be both comfortable and out of the way.
Still, though: Why do dog beds always have to be so ugly? I like the idea of making them more tied into furniture, such as with an ottoman or side table. That’s pretty much what Mindi from the "MyLove2Create" blog did with an old crib turned dog crate.
That wooden top is perfect for making it look like the rest of the furniture in her home.
Ultimately, it’s important to me to make Charlie feel just as at home in our shared space as I do. While some design choices are made just for me, I’ve learned that taking her needs into account can help us both in the long run — less clutter, fewer messes to clean up, and a house that can still be beautiful while addressing my biggest pain points of dog ownership versus my design desires.
Win-win is always better, right?