Pets. Furniture. Can We Live With Both?

Furniture and Pets

Many of us don’t believe that we can live happily with both nice furniture and pets.  I’ve had customers say, “I’m waiting for the dog to die so I can get a nice couch.”  This is sad on so many levels.  (Why shouldn’t the dog be allowed to enjoy the new sofa?)  We have a few suggestions for loving pet owners who would like to live with attractive furniture.  


Furniture and Pets - demolishing dog


Coordinate your furniture to match your pet.  On the surface, a crazy design idea—but if you’ve spent years cleaning white cat hair off a navy blue sleeper sofa—not so crazy. 

Buy leather furniture.  This is my go-to idea for pets, children, guests and other destructive agents in your home.  Leather is durable, easy to clean and it’s possible, although sometimes expensive, to repair.  There are different grades of leather, but if you choose a full-grain leather, not buffed or sanded, that retains its natural markings, a few extra pet scratches won’t matter.  They can be buffed out, or left to add to the character of the patina.  Corrected leather will have less surface markings, but it often sports a heavy surface coating that better resists.  Keep your pet’s nails trimmed to limit damage.  And remember to vacuum or wipe down your leather sofa or sleeper sofa regularly with a soft cloth to keep dirt and hair from clinging to the surface.


Furniture and Pets - bad cat


If you’re choosing fabric, look for something with a tight weave.  Microfiber is a great choice for pet owners.  It feels like suede, with no loose threads, so it doesn’t encourage clawing.  Microfiber chairs and couches are easy to clean.  Blotting with water can eliminate most spots if you catch them right away.  In the furniture industry, microfiber is referred to as “bullet-proof.”  Skip silk, velvet and suede—they stain too easily and are hard to clean.  

Avoid breakables near pets.  True story:  we have friends who owned a very expensive Chihuly vase that occupied a prominent spot in the living room.  They also had a large dog.  An earthquake shook the house, scared the dog, who ran into the pedestal, and dislodged the vase.  There was glass everywhere—dangerous for everyone, including the dog, not to mention a costly loss for the homeowners.  

Set boundaries for your pets.  If you don’t want them on the furniture, make sure to be consistent and always discourage any jumping on the couch.  Some pet owners swear by a nearby bottle of water, or a can of compressed air, sprayed whenever the dog attempts a cuddle on the sofa.  

Distraction works, too.  Keep a scratching post nearby, so the cat can be redirected if she eyes the couch and tries to claw the leg.  If your puppy has a soft bed of his own in the corner, he’s less likely to covet your soft sofa cushion.  

Yes, it’s possible to live happily with furniture and pets.  And when all else fails, just lower your standards.  Life is short, and some pet hair on the sofa is a small price to pay for the joy of cuddle time with your dog, cat or guinea pig.

About Meryl Alcabes

Twenty-five years ago, Meryl Alcabes launched Also Furniture with her husband Carlos. They were new to retail and new to the furniture industry, so the first few years of business were a challenge. However, with her art school background and gregarious personality, Meryl loved the combination of meeting new people and helping them design their living spaces by focusing on appropriate colors and styles for each situation.

When Meryl and Carlos were first married and found their dream apartment in San Francisco, they could only afford one new furniture item a month. The very first thing they purchased was a sleeper sofa, which they used as a bed at night and for seating during the day. After a few years in the furniture business, Meryl realized that sleeper sofas were a must for most apartment and condo dwellers, and they were hard to find—so the couple decided to specialize in sofa beds and Sleepers In Seattle was launched.

Two of Meryl and Carlos’s sons, Max and Jacques, have since joined the firm, which has expanded in many directions with Savvy Home. Meryl’s interests include photography and collage, in addition to cooking for her family and friends and frequent entertaining. Dinner table discussion always includes furniture talk and speculation about when their third son, Raphael, will join the business.
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