Whether you are contemplating a new home or remodeling your existing residence, it goes without saying that you should be taking into account the needs and desires of each of your family members as you develop your plans. Yet if you really want your home to reflect your family’s life, don’t neglect to design with your pets in mind.

Why? Because your pets are an important part of your family, and like your other family members, they have their own distinct needs. They require food, water, a place to sleep, access to their facilities, space to play, and more. Here are a few ideas we’ve found and things to consider when you are planning a project with pets in mind:

  • Plan for paws and claws. Pets have a huge influence on your flooring options. Cats with claws will scratch at carpet and fabrics, so select durable options that don’t show marks. Long claws may scratch certain surfaces, so steer away from highly polished options that show wear in favor of distressed choices that hide marks. Bear in mind that pets like to sleep on cool tile floors on hot days to beat the heat, but as they age, hard or highly polished floors may be difficult for them to navigate safely.
  • Don’t neglect wide-open floor space. Pets require room to run – even indoors. Wider hallways, open doorways and long site lines allow pets to roam freely and permit family members to see them coming, thus preventing possible trip an fall accidents.
  • Pets also need a cozy place to cuddle up and be near their family members in the same room. If your family gathers around the kitchen island in evenings or camps out in the family room, make certain there’s enough floor space in that room to accommodate a pet bed. If you keep your pet in a crate at night, make sure you plan a logical– and large enough – space to accommodate it.
  • Make room for meals. For most pets, water and food bowls should be accessible at all hours of the day and night. Keeping them out of the way of major traffic areas – like a kitchen aisle – is ideal. Some homeowners opt for laundry room or garage feeding stations. No matter where you place them, make certain to allow for storage space for pet food. Large dog food bags, for example, can weigh up to 50 pounds. You may want to design dry storage bins to better protect food and keep it more easily accessible.
  • Don’t neglect necessities. Litter boxes and late night walks are necessities that must be planned for. Consider a doggie door so your canine companion can let itself out at night, preferably near stairs that are easy for them to navigate on their own and also lit for your safety if you accompany them. When it comes to cats, plan your space carefully. You’ll want to keep the litter box out of sight – and far enough away from living and cooking areas to avoid any visual or odor detection. You’ll also want flooring that can stand up to occasional spills and accidents. Again, plan for storage of litter – bags and bins can easily weigh 20 pounds or more.
  • Toys! If you’ve ever seen the home of a young family, you realize that toy storage can be an issue. The same applies to your pets. You’ll want to designate a space for toys where pets can access them but they’ll be out of the way – both indoors and outside. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to convince your cat to clean up her favorite toy mouse, but she’ll thank you for putting it right at her paw tips when the urge to play strikes.