Sharing your home with a dog or cat has many joys and a few disappointments —  such as scratched floors, snagged sofas and soiled rugs.

Designer and author Susanna Salk believes it is possible to live stylishly and practically with pets, and she asked 22 designers just how they did that.

Salk’s book “At Home With Dogs and Their Designers” is full of cute pups (and helpful ideas): a Yorkie lounging on an ikat sofa (print fabrics are more forgiving than solids), a sheepdog-terrier mix napping on a colorful washable throw and a pair of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels who are served their meals in blue and white porcelain bowls (why not?). Tastemakers, including Jonathan Adler and Bunny Williams, posed with their pets.

Salk joined us recently for a live Q&A on living with pets. Here are some of her ideas for protecting rugs and furniture while making dogs and cats feel welcome. They have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What’s the easiest way to clean dog drool (on the walls, shelves, ceilings)?

A: Dog drool on a ceiling? My word! Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Peony Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner has a nice fresh scent. I live for the cloth wipes from Trader Joe’s (Trader Joe’s Super Amazing Reusable Kitchen Cloth). I keep them under my sink and lightly wipe down all sorts of drools and messes with them. I either wet them slightly first or use them to wipe up after I’ve sprayed. Then I throw them in the wash.


Q: We just got a new genuine leather couch, and I plan on allowing our dog — about 25 pounds — up on it. I don’t mind leather that shows signs of use and wear, but what can I do to keep the wear even and prevent real damage?

A: I would consider getting a nice faux fur throw (a pretty white or gray one perhaps?) and putting it on it to protect any real damage. The dog will get used to lying on it, instead of the leather, very quickly!

Q: I love both of my dogs but hate the odor in the room they sleep in. Short of removing all soft items (rugs, sofa, drapes), how do I keep the odor down?

A: I live for Zero Odor eliminator. It’s a spray that doesn’t hurt your fabrics, and it helps take away those musty pet smells. If I want a little scent I use Febreze Air Heavy Duty.

Q: I just got a sofa set in a black and white weave, and my dog is black. The fabric can be cleaned with a dry solvent cleaner. How much effort should I put into keeping her off the couch? If I vacuum/clean the furniture once a month, or every few months, will that preserve the life of the furniture or keep it from getting smelly? She’s less than a year, so she stays in her crate when I’m not home. I’m also going to get a semi-nice washable blanket to see if I can train her only to sit on that when we’re on the couch.

A: You have to decide if you are going to allow her to go on it, or not. She is young, so she can be trained. Every time she tries to jump on it, you say a firm “no” and make her get down. Be consistent. She will stay away soon enough and understand that’s not her area. If you’d like her to join you there, put a throw down that’s cozy; chances are she will get used to lying only on that portion. It works with my dogs.


Q: I need to replace my living room rug. What type of rug will be easy to maintain and stand up to cat scratching and hairball vomit?

A: I like soft-pile rugs with a bold design and color that hide stains and hair easily between cleanings. I also really recommend Oriental rugs. They are so durable!

Q: My cats tend to lie on my good sofa and also guests sometimes spill on it. Where can I get an attractive throw to put on top of it? I like suzanis or something tribal or colorful.

A: Try Etsy for vintage suzanis. I find them a lot there. Pottery Barn has great faux fur throws, as do West Elm and Z Gallerie.

Q: My cat has scratched and marked every piece of custom upholstery in our home. Are there fabrics, sprays or other tactics that work to keep the cat away from the furniture?

A: I feel your pain. My cat just scratched up a brand new rug within hours. Try to invest less in precious materials moving forward: wood or metal legs for sofas, velvets that are tough.

Teddy, designer Alex Papachristidis’s Yorkie, is featured in Susanna Salk’s book “At Home With Dogs and Their Designers.” (Stacey Bewkes handout photo)

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