Pets: Margherita, Gelsomino, Pinuccia and Mimma
Owner: Maria A. Mammarella
Location: Rome, Italy
Size: About 646 square feet (60 square meters) of outdoor space
The need: I’ve always loved cats. But in our previous garden, they were always digging up everything I planted, as well as doing the same to the neighbors’ gardens. My cats are very adventurous, and they like to see things from above.
The solution: I decided to find a way to make my garden more interesting and playful for them. I built a basket on the olive tree and a ladder to climb up to it. It works both as a fun place for them but also as a lookout point. I added some cushions in the shade of trees, as they like to sleep there. I also built some other covered places where they can play hide-and-seek.
What friends and visitors think of it: They love to sit in the garden watching the cats play and jump around.
What’s next: I want to add more observatory baskets and stairs, and maybe in the future a winter garden, so they can play outside even during colder months.
Pet: Chilli, aka Miss Ross
Owner: Anna Pilo
Occupation: Owner of online vintage interiors shop Hos Anna
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
The need: My sweet dog, Chilli, aka Miss Ross, loves her naps and spends a lot of time in her bed. And she has always loved jumping into our open suitcases whenever she got the chance, so I decided to make a dream case just for her.
What friends and visitors think: She always makes visitors laugh sitting in her special bed.She used to sleep in a regular dog bed, but it just wasn’t quite her. Miss Ross is a little bit of a diva but always very funny, and therefore her space needed to have a sense of humor as well.
What’s next: She loves her suitcase but, to make it perfect, she would probably add a treat dispenser or two.
Pets: Two parrots (unnamed)
Owner: Pedro Ochando
Occupation: Designer and teacher at the local university
Location: Valencia, Spain
The need: I love birds, and ever since I can remember, I’ve had them as pets. At the moment I have two: The male is yellow-green, and the female is blue. This species of bird, called Forpus coelestis, belongs to the parrot family. They are calm and very quiet birds; they don’t chirp very much. I also have a big black dog called Manolo, and the relationship between them is very friendly. In fact, the birds often perch on him. I like to have them free from the cage whenever I’m at home. They don’t fly very much, so I thought they maybe needed a bit of encouragement.
The solution: I created this object I call “the hanger” for them to play and exercise. And it works. The first time they used it, they loved the rocking movement of the whole hanger, not just the swing. I suppose for them it was like being on a branch. I was very careful to include branches of different thicknesses, as they would find in nature, so their legs can exercise properly, as it forces the muscles to be more active. I also included a removable olive tree branch as a toy for pecking.
What’s next: I want to build a really large cage for them, but I still haven’t found the time to start.
Pet: Fluffy Bandit
Owners: Edward Walker and Julia Kleinsteuber
Occupations: Account manager and client relationship manager
Location: London, England
Size: About 258 square feet (24 square meters)
The need: Bandit couldn’t see the outside world and was getting very lethargic. We really needed a space for him with lots of sunlight and a little sleeping area to call his own.
The solution: As Bandit is a house cat, we wanted to create an outside space, inside. We read an article explaining how house cats need lots of sunlight and enjoy watching the world go by. Because cats like their own space and love different levels, we had a shelving unit built for him to climb and also to hold his basket.
What friends and visitors think: They all love it. The space is not only great for the cat, but for us as well. It’s amazing having lots of different plants indoors — it really adds color and life to a small London flat. Visitors can also tell that Bandit loves it, as he’s usually lounging in his basket when they arrive.
What’s next: As Bandit has already made the winter garden his mini kingdom, we think bigger and better is the way forward. We want to add more plants, as well as shelving on the walls for him to climb. We might even include a cat water fountain feature.
Note: Certain plants and cut flowers — especially lilies — can be harmful to cats. Please seek expert advice and consult your vet if your cat displays signs of irritation. For more information, visit International Cat Care.
Owners: Anna Nikitina and Oleg Kovalev
Occupations: Product designers at Smart Balls
Location: Moscow, Russia
The need: When we were getting a dog, we knew she was going to be with us all the time. We take her with us when we go to work, to visit friends, to a restaurant or bar, even shopping. And when we are traveling, of course. You go to a bar, sit at the counter — what can your dog do?
The solution: We needed an individual portable “nest” for her. Because she isn’t small — she is a Jack Russell terrier; 8 kilos [about 18 pounds] of pure happiness — regular slings don’t work for us. Also, it’s quite hard to find something decent designwise. We have our own tailoring industry, so sewing a custom dog carrier was a natural solution. The difficult part was coming up with the shape and getting the size right.
Now she has a mobile house where she can rest or take a nap whenever she wants. When it’s not possible to go somewhere with a dog on a leash, a carrier is a great solution. Sometimes people don’t even notice her at first; that’s how well she behaves.
What people think of it: When we were making the first one, we weren’t thinking about manufacturing them, but now we understand there are many people just like us who want a similar product to carry their dog around. Strangers on the street have asked us where we got the carrier, and people tend to remember us wherever we go, thanks to Zoe. In fact, now we call to reserve a table and introduce ourselves as, “Hey, it’s Oleg and Anna, Zoe’s owners. Can we get a table for tonight?” It’s really useful.
What’s next: We call Zoe our PR manager as a joke: She’s working for us personally, our brand and our products. (You could never find a better model to photograph on poufs and sofas.) And now she’s going to be a star of Smart Balls’ new line for animals. We are planning to make carriers and beds for dogs, as well as toys.
Pets: Litchi and Bench
Owners: Fannie Verdu-Imbert and Ulysse Rousselet
Occupations: Architects at Full Animaux Urbaines
Location: Paris, France
The need: Our cats didn’t have a specific space where they could play, so we wanted to create an area of their own to enable them to have fun without taking over the entire living room.
The solution: We were looking for a cat tree, but we couldn’t find one we liked anywhere. Plus, we needed something that wasn’t too invasive, because we didn’t have a lot of space to put it. So we decided to make it ourselves by varnishing recycled wooden boxes and branches from a family member’s garden and arranging them on the wall between the living room and our bedroom. We decided to mix storage and playful elements to optimize the small space.
What friends and visitors think of it: They love it. In fact, they basically spend a good part of the evening playing with the cats in the tree.
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Pets: Paper, Genghis ChiKhan and Attila
Owners: Aislin and Tim Gibson and their sons, Caedon and Gavin
Occupations: Aislin is a designer; Tim works in business development for a clinical research company
Location: San Jose, California, United States
The need: We wanted a coop for our new flock of chickens that fitted the midcentury modern lines of our house and garden. Everything we saw was either affordable but not attractive or gorgeous but not affordable.
We saw a cedar-pine chicken coop at Pistils Nursery in Portland, Oregon, while on vacation, and it was the best design I had seen. When Tim’s parents were tearing apart their old redwood deck, we had a source of low-cost, high-quality salvaged wood. We factored in the shallow footprint we had in the back of our yard, and came up with our coop design.
More than half of the coop is ventilated, so fresh air flushes out ammonia buildup, and it also keeps the chickens cool on hot days. We designed lots of space for them, creating two levels. This way, they don’t pick on each other when they get overcrowded.
Our boys love animals and science, so choosing to have chickens was largely because of them. We put the egg hatch at a young child’s height, and every latch on the coop is easy for small hands to twist or pull. It’s also a walk-in coop, so we enter it without hunching over, which makes it easier for the boys to help clean.
Our chickens seem pretty happy. They are safe and secure, and have plenty of room to loll around in the sun or snuggle in the shade. We like that they are secure. We poured a concrete base and stapled hardware cloth to 2-by-4-inch frames, which at first I thought was overbuilding it — until one night we saw a huge raccoon push every single panel of the coop trying to find a way in. He gave up after a good 10 minutes. It’s a really solid structure.
What was there before: When we moved into our home, we had an overgrown bush that grew into a 30-foot-tall tree that blocked the sun completely on our neighbor’s yard. Our neighbors were so thrilled when we cut it down that they didn’t mind us building a chicken coop. In fact, they love the sound of the chickens. When they hear the girls clucking together, they know an egg has been laid, and we’ll hear them say, “Sounds like you’ve got an egg!” We have the best neighbors.
What’s next: We’re planning on building a run for the chickens. We’ve been letting them free-range on our lawn and under the bushes, but unfortunately they like to help themselves to our vegetables.
I designed the coop to have as low a carbon footprint as possible, and even better, a positive carbon footprint: We used salvaged, old-growth redwood whenever possible, and the chickens recycle our garden waste by eating weeds and bugs, and their manure is composted for our organic garden. What we haven’t yet built in is a rainwater-harvesting system. The corrugated, pitched-angle metal roof is perfect for gathering rainwater.
Pets: Toto and Suzu
Owners: Shizuma and Yukie Sasaki
Occupations: System administrators
Location: Osaka, Japan
Size: About 721 square feet (67 square meters)
Architect: Saito Architectural Office
The need: Our house has open ceilings above the living room and the far top of the stairway. Our cats enjoy walking along the beams, which are made of Japanese cedar. However, we were a little worried they might fall off the beams, because the ceilings are so high.
What friends and visitors think of it: When friends come to our house, they are surprised at first. Then they laugh and say, “Oh, what crazy cat lovers you are — lucky cats!” Somebody once asked us, “Whose house is this, yours or theirs?” We were pleased to hear that — it sounds like our ideal home.
What’s next: As everything in this house is designed to be both human-friendly and cat-friendly, we are now living together very happily. We are so happy with everything in this house that we don’t have any plans at the moment. Maybe we should ask the cats.
Owner: Alison Turnbull
Occupation: Marketing consultant
Location: Victoria, Australia
The need: I was tired of tripping over a rather unattractive dog bed in our laundry. Our golden retriever, Luna, is like our third child. About 18 months ago, we moved into our 1910 Federation heritage home in Kew. The laundry was small and dark and didn’t have space for a dog bed. I couldn’t even open the cupboards without dragging her bed into the hallway. It was annoying and inconvenient having her bed just lying on the floor all the time.
The solution: When we briefed our architect on our wish list, one of the key items was a sleeping area for Luna. We redesigned the floor plan to make a much larger laundry, and when we sat down to have a brainstorming session about the laundry design, I came up with the idea of a pull-down bed. Our architect was momentarily stunned, but then said, “We can do that!”
I had seen pull-down wall beds on home-renovating TV shows and online, and thought they were a great idea for multipurpose rooms. So when it came to designing our laundry and realizing we had a long bank of cupboard space down one wall, I thought we could use this idea for Luna’s bed. Our architect said this was definitely a first for him. It was also a first for our cabinetmaker, but they both thought it was a great idea they would use again.
Luna loves her bed. Initially she was a little suspicious, but a doggy treat soon sorted that out. Now when we retire for the night, we only have to say, “Bedtime,” and she runs and jumps into her bed. I think she knows it’s her special spot.
What’s next: Part of our next phase of renovations includes the kitchen and family room extension. My wish list for this area includes a mudroom in which everyone has their own space to hang their bags, coats and shoes as they come in the back door. Of course, Luna is included in this concept, and she will have a matching space for her lead, toys and bits and pieces.
Pets: Oscar and Mieps
Owner: Zoë Beck
Occupation: Publisher, writer and translator
Location: Zehlendorf, Berlin, Germany
Size of the flat: About 1,506 square feet (140 square meters)
The need: I wanted my cats to feel as comfortable as I do in my home, so I asked my vet for advice. She looked around my apartment and advised me to create different places where the two can sit and play. They needed the opportunity to be apart when they felt like it — both from each other and also from me.
The solution: I now have seven different cat spots in my flat! But in fact, most of the time they are wherever I am.
What friends and visitors think of it: My guests often respond with positive curiosity. While people who have no cats wonder what the molded things made of cardboard might be, a lot of cat owners understand.
What it was like before: Before I had the scratch pieces, the carpets and furniture often fell victim to cats’ claws.
What’s next: Even more dedicated cat spots in my flat.
Written by Houzz