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Barkitecture 101: Design Ideas for a Pet-Centric Home

Do you have a family pet? Whether you own a cat, dog, or an exotic animal, implementing elements of barkitecture—a design trend focusing on creating a comfortable or enriching space for your pet—can be the perfect way to update your home. Check out these helpful tips on how you can include your furry, scaled, or feathered friends in your living space with pet architecture!

Designate a Pet Room

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No matter what type of pets you own, you can create a pet room just for them using an extra bedroom or flex space in your home! If you don’t have a whole room that’s free, you can still designate a corner or nook for the same purpose. This space can have their food, toys, places to sleep, and more. Include things like a nice cat tree, catwalks on the walls, or cubbies for a cat room—or design a dog room with a dog bed, puppy tent, and chew toys. Create a bird room for your feathered friends, complete with perches, swings, and small climbing structures. And if you have lots of reptiles, hamsters, or other small animals, you can make a pet room for all their cages, so you can more easily control conditions like temperature and lighting.

Design for Play & Exploration

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When incorporating barkitecture into your home, you’ll want to provide plenty of space for your pet to explore, play, and lounge. There are lots of simple, cost-effective ways to do this—like adding cushions to your window seat so your cat or dog can watch birds, squirrels, and passersby. Catify your home by putting up cat trees or installing catwalks around living spaces so your kitties can climb to higher spots with cat perches, nooks, shelves, and hanging beds near the windows. There are also ways to design your home for smaller pets—like setting up a pet playpen for bunnies or guinea pigs, adding natural-looking structures with hidden holes or perches for reptiles, or constructing a network of tubes and tunnels for ferrets, mice, or hamsters! If you’re a bird owner, set up a bird playground or parrot perches so your feathered friend can enjoy supervised flying time outside of their cage—just make sure you’ve properly bird-proofed your home first.

Make a Cozy Sleeping Area

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While a lot of your home’s barkitecture will be dedicated to playtime, you’ll also need a place for your pet to sleep and relax. Purchase a pet bed large enough for your animal that fits with your home decor. Place it in a designated corner, or construct an area for your pet to sleep in a more enclosed space—like under a staircase. For areas of the home that are cooler in the winter months, make a heated sleeping area by getting a heated bed, thermal pad, or thicker blanket for your pet to snuggle into. And for the warmer months, you can keep your pet cool with a fan or a cooling pad in their sleeping area!

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Create a Pet Feeding Station

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When choosing where to put your pet’s food, try finding a place that fits the natural flow of your home, so you’re not tripping over pet dishes. Installing a pet feeding station in unused cabinet space or below your kitchen island is a great way to do this! Plus, elevated pet bowls in a built-in feeding station can help with your pet’s digestion, ease whisker discomfort, and minimize spills and messes. If you feed your pets fresh food, you can even use an under-the-counter refrigerator just for your four-legged friend, and keep all their food utensils together. For items like treats, snacks, and other bagged food, put them in nearby storage compartments hidden from view.

Find Pet-Friendly Furniture

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When picking out pet-friendly furniture for your home, choose pieces that are both comfortable and practical! Opt for durable and easy-to-clean materials like leather, faux leather, canvas, and synthetic fabric. Look for dual-purpose furniture to meet the needs of both you and your pets—like end tables with pet beds beneath, an entertainment center with a built-in pet crate, or shelves that conceal a litter box behind a cupboard door. Or install scratching posts on the corners of couches or walls to keep your home in good condition while still providing a surface for your cats to sharpen their claws and stretch.

Stick with Non-Toxic Plants

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In addition to being a pet parent, you may also be a plant parent. Try to keep only pet-friendly houseplants in your home, since there are many common plants that are toxic to your furry friends. Some pet-friendly plants include spider plants, ponytail palms, prayer plants, Boston ferns, and even air plants. Check with your vet or refer to trusted online sources to keep harmful plants out of the reach of cats, dogs, and other animals!

Create a Pet Patio

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If you want to let your pets spend time outside in a safe, controlled environment, consider creating an enclosed patio space just for them! A catio, or a cat patio, is an outdoor cat enclosure attached to your home by a cat door that allows your kitty to safely enjoy fresh air, exercise, and views of local wildlife. Furnish your catio with a drinking fountain, toys, climbing structures, and cushions or a cat hammock for naps in the sun. Or attach a doggie door leading to a backyard or fenced-in dog patio—complete with space to run, a sprinkler or doggie pool, and an at-home agility course. If you have an exotic pet, consider building an area for supervised play—like an outdoor reptile enclosure, birdcage, or a playpen for pets like bunnies and guinea pigs. Just make sure the enclosure is secure and meets your pet’s specific environmental needs.

Set Up a Dog-Washing Station

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Making a dedicated dog-washing area in your mudroom, laundry room, or garage can help you keep your home clean and make bath-time go more smoothly. No space or funds to build an in-home dog washing station? Opt for a budget-friendly pet-washing station and install a detachable showerhead or buy a handheld attachment for your existing bathtub faucet. Wherever you decide to set up your dog washroom, be sure to choose places in your home located closest to the outdoors, so your pet doesn’t track dirt, mud, and other debris into the home.

Install Pet Cameras

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Keep an eye on your pets from anywhere with pet cameras! Most pet monitoring cameras work with apps on your phone and allow you to see your pet in real-time. A camera for your pet will notify you when something happens, so you can interact with your pet immediately. This is especially helpful with animals that have separation anxiety or behavioral problems. Some pet cameras even allow you to dispense treats! Whether you’re at work, picking up groceries, or just in a different part of your home, installing a cat cam or dog cam can give you and your pet peace of mind.


In need of self storage while designing a space for your pet? Extra Space Storage has many locations around the U.S. that can help you store furniture, pet toys, pet supplies, and more. Find storage lockers and units near you!