- H.M. Cauley For the AJC
Whether building a new house or renovating an older one, homeowners are thinking not just about how the human inhabitants will use the space. Pets, often considered four-footed family members, are getting special consideration as well.
One of the top pet-friendly features is a pet station, a specifically designed and designated area of the home with bedding, food bowls and outside access. And anyone who’s ever tried to wrestle a dog into a bathtub knows grooming can be hassle, so showers and rinse-off stations are often part of the plan.
“So many people have pets now that there’s more interest in creating a special indoor area for them,” said interior designer Donna Mathis, president of Suwanee-based Haven Design Works, a company that works with builders to outfit model homes. “We’re seeing this a lot in the 55-plus market, where pets are almost companions, all the way down to the millennial buyer who wants to set up little drop zones for bowls, beds and leashes. In the last year-and-a-half, I’ve seen this feature included in laundry and mud rooms.”
Floor plans don’t need roomy mud rooms to accommodate pet stations, Mathis points out. “I’ve seen them in small spaces under the stairs and retrofitted in a laundry room in a space as small as a laundry tub.”
But when room is available, a pet washing station can be included without significant expense, Mathis says. “Especially if it’s added into a floor plan that’s being built, you can use subway tile that’s not expensive and have a water line over. Put up a showerhead that comes off the wall, and you have a quick easy way to wash pets off when they come in.”
Staci Taylor, the design studio manager for The Providence Group of builders, says a pet station can run between $1,000 and $6,000. “The pricing depends on what people are looking for. We can do smaller, elevated bathing stations that look like sinks or larger, walk-in showers. Most of the time they’re done with subway tiles, darker grout so they’re easier to keep clean and some type of hand-held shower to clean the shower and rinse off paws.”
Designers with FrontDoor Communities, which builds new homes across Atlanta’s northside, were inspired to add pet stations into floor plans when they realized how important dogs are to most buyers.
“The original inspiration came from our CEO who has a dog wash area in his house,” said Irene Hall, FrontDoor’s vice president of sales and marketing. “He lives right off the river, and he knows how muddy dogs can get when they run around outside. And with dogs becoming more and more of a huge focus in people’s lives, we started asking how the dog is going to live in the house. We thought we’d see what kind of reaction we’d get from a doggie wash or place to leave the dog during the day when you’re at work and don’t want it roaming around. So we put a wash station behind a door, and so far, we’ve had two pre-sales that have chosen that option.”
At FrontDoor’s Edgewater community in Holly Springs, the pet stations are off the garage in an area that could also be outfitted with benches, cubbies or a desk. “It’s easy to get the plumbing there for the wash station and put in the backsplash tile with a lip and drain tray,” said Hall. “Then we finish the room with the split door and a screened area so a dog can see through it.”
One thing designers didn’t factor into the pet station plans, Hall admits, is having a cat. “Well, cats pretty much take any room. The whole house is their house.”