This Stylish East Coast Home Was Designed with Dogs in Mind

Living with pets can be messy, but one interior designer wouldn’t consider living without them. Discover how she creates high-style, dog-friendly rooms.

Dog people are a special breed. They can't pass up a cute toy at the pet store, they host puppy play dates and parties, and their phones are filled with selfies that include their dogs. Then there's Tyler Karu, whose devotion to dogs has never wavered, even after the family pet bit off her lip when she was 8 and she had to endure plastic surgery. "It was a fairly traumatic experience, but I love dogs nonetheless," she says. "I just gained an appreciation of boundaries."

An interior designer in Maine, Tyler finds her lifelong love aids her when she is planning spaces to share with her dogs. In her previous home (shown here), that task involved choosing furnishings and surfaces to accommodate a pack: Haddock, a Brussels griffon; Winnie Cooper, a Great Dane; and Clyde, a Great Dane and Saint Bernard mix. She shares her best function-with-style tricks.

tyler karu dog portrait
Erin Little

Tyler designed a mudroom bench with holes for dog bowls. It's 16 inches high—good for humans putting on shoes. Bench supports hide shoes and baskets of dog gear. Giant dog breeds shouldn't eat off the floor because it can strain their backs.

When you have dogs, "you actually can invest in nice rugs," Tyler says. She suggests one with a pattern and a low, tightly woven pile and has found that wool options, like Persian rugs and antique kilims, are a good choice when it comes to removing stains.

living room with neutral tones artistic decor
Erin Little

For the seating where the dogs are most likely to lounge (whether they should or not), she recommends Crypton, a durable, easy-clean upholstery fabric. She chose a mid-tone neutral to keep light and dark dog hairs from being too noticeable. An easy-to-move swivel chair replaces the dog bed in the living room when guests come over.

"The dark-colored, durable wool rug in the living room hides all dog-related sins." Tyler says. She also swears by L.L.Bean's Therapeutic Dog Bed. The washable cover hides a memory foam insert.

When it comes to fighting off stains, she recommends carpet that's wool, tightly woven, and low-pile. "Going with a neutral color is always a smart choice," she says. "Stay in that medium tone."

white and wood kitchen monstera plant
Erin Little

"Great Danes are drool machines," Tyler says. She's found that a walnut finish hides slobber residue on kitchen cabinets between frequent wipe-downs. If you have painted base cabinets and drooly dogs, Tyler recommends a light or medium color. Dark paint doesn't hide drool as well.

She keeps plants off the floor and out of the traffic flow. "If the plants are up high, the dogs won't really approach them," she says.

dining room with balloon chandelier
Erin Little

Tyler liked the existing ash floors, which she vacuumed daily, for their character and ability to hide scratches. "They had a little bit of patina and wear and a lot of visible grain," she says. Her clean-lined style means no upholstered dining chairs to attract dog hair.

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