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The Home Front: High-end home design for dogs

Lucky Fido! Chad Falkenberg, principal designer at Falken Reynolds Interiors, offers tips for designing with pets in mind

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Chad Falkenberg is principal designer at the ultra-talented design practice Falken Reynolds Interiors. If you’re a human, getting Falken Reynolds to design your residential or commercial space is a very nice thing, but it gets better — they know how to design for pets too.

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Postmedia sat down with Falkenberg to hear his hot tips on designing for pets at home.

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Get their wash and sleep stations right

At Falken Reynolds, they’ve designed quite a few dog wash stations, says Falkenberg. The trick with these is making a spot where the dog gets wet, but people stay dry. They’ve achieved this by elevating the floor for the dog and using a glass door that’s easy to reach over and adapted for the dog’s size.

They’ve also designed a concrete dog wash station that catered for a big dog and a small dog — adding a step so the smaller dog could climb in too. Accessibility is everything.

Shower designed to accommodate dogs and people by Falken Reynolds.
Shower designed to accommodate dogs and people by Falken Reynolds. Photo by Ema Peter /PNG

Taking it to the next level

In one condo design, they created a shower that worked both for their client and somewhere he could wash his four beagles:

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“The bench is large enough for the dog to sit on, and the hand shower is close at hand. The sliding glass door allows it to stay open and give the client a bit more elbow room when giving the dogs a bath,” he says.

“We’ve also designed places for dog beds and even integrated feeding stations that have a faucet right above the dog’s water bowl,” he says.

Most significant challenges when designing for pets?

“One of the biggest challenges is trying to make things functional, adaptable, and fade into the background, so the features don’t overtake a space,” he says.

To achieve this, they make sure the spaces they design for pets are multi-functional. They recently created a key drop station in a client’s kitchen wide enough for a standard dog bed to fit underneath it. This station features tool drawers, a magnetic pin-up school calendar, and a counter for keys and mail. They chose to make the whole station out of Corian because it’s a material that’s super easy to clean and helps keep the dog bed in place, says Falkenberg.

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“But when they have guests, they can move the dog bed to another part of the house, and the millwork looks perfectly normal, integrated into the rest of the design of the kitchen,” he says.

Falken Reynolds designed this multi-purpose key drop station in ultra-durable, easy-to-clean material and with space to fit Fido's bed underneath.
Falken Reynolds designed this multi-purpose key drop station in ultra-durable, easy-to-clean material and with space to fit Fido’s bed underneath. Photo by Ema Peter /PNG

How is it different than designing for people?

They choose more robust materials when designing pet sleeping and eating spaces — knowing how much cleaning is required, he says:

“Corian, concrete, porcelain tile will all be easy to clean, and they’ll take a lot of wear and tear and still look great. We’re finding clients see the benefits of designing for the pets from the beginning of the design process, just like we design for everyone else in the family,” he says.

How to get it right

If you’re building or renovating, you want to start thinking about where and how your pet will feature in your space as soon as possible, says Falkenberg.

Ask yourself: where do we want a hook for a leash? Where will the dog eat and sleep? What about bathing?

“It is definitely more complicated to integrate those things into existing millwork, plumbing and electrical, so incorporating them into the design from the beginning makes so much sense,” he says.

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