How to Design a Pet-Friendly Kitchen That’s Both Fashionable and Functional

By: Lauren JoskowitzUpdated:

pet friendly kitchen design
Photo: ArchiViz/iStock

How to Design a Pet-Friendly Kitchen That’s Both Fashionable and Functional

Also known as animal-first architecture, barkitecture is capturing fans and winning over pet parents by making pet-friendly spaces stylish and functional. And while we’ve seen people embrace the trend to transform entire dedicated spaces into elaborate, glorified dog houses (we’re looking at you, Rumer Willis, and your dog Dolores’ airstream trailer home), barkitecture has also made its way to homes on a smaller scale, transforming bedrooms, living rooms and various nooks and crannies into fun and functional pet-forward spaces. Now? It’s the kitchen’s turn—and we couldn’t be happier about it.

We’re talking pet feeding stations and cozy pet dens carved into kitchen islands, sliding pet gates that disappear into the walls, and reupholstered kitchen seating with pet-friendly cushions. And the best part of it all? Some of these ideas are totally DIY-friendly. The rest, well, you may need a little help. (But it’ll be oh-so-worth it.)

DIY Ideas for Designing a Pet-Friendly Kitchen

To get some creative pet-first, pet-friendly kitchen ideas rooted in barkitecture, we spoke to Dala Al-fuwaries principle owner of House of Form, a boutique hospitality design firm in Scottsdale, Arizona that specializes in creating memorable spaces and meaningful experiences.
Before we give you dream-house-inspo (or what we like to call “DDIY,” “Don’t Do It Yourself”), let’s start with DIY pet-friendly kitchen designs that are both fashionable and functional for humans and pets alike.

Integrate Your Pet's Bed Into the Cabinetry

Tucking your pet’s bed into your kitchen cupboards? Love—and it’s a look you can easily pull off via simply removing the cupboard doors.

“We've seen these open where there's no door,” Al-fuwaries says. “It looks completely integrated into the kitchen that you wouldn't notice at first that it's a dog bed.”

If you’d prefer the pet bed doubles as a kennel or dog crate, though, a gate can be “very utilitarian,” says Al-fuwaries. You may have to enlist some help to accomplish a transparent look; but if you’re a bona fide DIYer (or just brave), you could add wire mesh grille inserts to desired cupboard doors.

Whatever you choose, an integrated pet bed is nothing without, well, a good pet bed. We love:

FurHaven Two-Tone Deluxe Chaise Orthopedic Dog Bed
FurHaven Two-Tone Deluxe Chaise Orthopedic Dog Bed
$63.99
Shop Now!
FurHaven Comfy Couch Orthopedic Bolster Dog Bed
FurHaven Comfy Couch Orthopedic Bolster Dog Bed
$62.40
Shop Now!
Dog Bed King USA Sofa-Style Lounger Cat & Dog Bed
Dog Bed King USA Sofa-Style Lounger Cat & Dog Bed
$59.99
Shop Now!

Install Hidden Pet Food Storage

Remember when I mentioned eyesores? Well, there’s an easy fix for hiding unsightly and bulky pet food bags. Install a pull-out in some existing storage space.

“I like this [idea] because bag sizes can be very inconvenient, in the sense that you don't have space for them. So, being able to pour [the pet food] into something that is integrated into your kitchen—and keeps the food safe and sealed—is ideal,” Al-fuwaries says.

And you don’t need anything fancy: “It’s literally a trash can but can be used for food specifically.”

Don’t have extra kitchen storage space to spare? Buy a freestanding feeding station, instead, which typically comes equipped with food storage and food bowls. Bonus: It gives you more counter space.

Here are some of our favorite storage and stations:
HANAMYA Pet Food Storage Container
HANAMYA Pet Food Storage Container
$49.95
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New Age Pet Dog Food Pantry
New Age Pet Dog Food Pantry
$270.94
Shop Now!
ZooVilla Windsor Elevated Bowls & Storage
ZooVilla Windsor Elevated Bowls & Storage
$107.69
Shop Now!

Keep Your Kitchen Chairs Hair-Free

kitchen chairs

If you have kitchen benches or chairs that your pets love to lounge on (*raises hand*), then consider reupholstering or purchasing pet-friendly cushions.

I would definitely consider a vinyl material or something that is considered what we call ‘performance material,’” Al-fuwaries says. “It allows you to wipe it down, and even bleach it.”

If you have pets that shed like there’s no tomorrow (*raises hand again*), “Vinyl's great because it can be wiped off, which prevents fur from getting sucked into the fabric. A laminate could work, too.”

Got a hypoallergenic pet who doesn’t shed as much? Well, first, I’m jealous. Second, fabric-based seating is totally fine, but make sure you can remove the seat cover so you can just throw it in the wash for easy cleaning.

Put Up Pet-Inspired Wallpaper & Decor

OK, this is genius for pet-obsessed parents like me: wallpaper print that looks sophisticated from afar, but when you lean in and really look at it, you realize it's a bunch of dogs!

“I like it because, at a distance, it just looks like a subtle pattern,” Al-fuwaries says.

Of course, depending on your wall space, you can also decorate your kitchen with pawsome wall art, too. We love:

Stupell Industries Kitchen All Food to the Lab Dog Wall Décor
Stupell Industries Kitchen All Food to the Lab Dog Wall Décor
$53.99
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Mud Pie Funny Kraft Today's Agenda Dog Plaque
Mud Pie Funny Kraft Today's Agenda Dog Plaque
$23.00
Shop Now!
Stupell Industries Fisherman Feline Yellow Coat Cat Wall Décor
Stupell Industries Fisherman Feline Yellow Coat Cat Wall Décor
$53.99
Shop Now!

Focus on Your Flooring

Scratched and damaged floors are difficult to repair or replace. So, when designing a pet-friendly kitchen, opt for flooring that can sustain heavy wear and tear.

“I actually just had to make a decision for my own personal home because I do have a dog with nails that likes to run around,” Al-fuwaries says.

“So, we have tile in spaces where there might be water-use, [including the kitchen]. The rest of the house, we opted for a luxury vinyl plank. Essentially, it's a wood-look but it’s good for heavy traffic. It [prevents against] scratching and is easy to clean, so it's very appropriate for households with pets.”

Other good options include cork or bamboo.

  • Cork flooring looks like hardwood, is antimicrobial, and absorbs sound. It’s also great for pets and breeds who tend to have sensitive joints.
  • Bamboo resembles natural wood, but is said to be more durable, stain-resistant, and scratch resistant.

Now, if you’re looking to spruce up your kitchen with a rug, choosing the right one is key.

“I would consider something that's machine washable, so that I could just drop it in the washing machine every so often,” says Al-fuwaries. “And then, I would look into very dense rug pads that keep the rugs in place.”

For a general rule of thumb, steer clear of materials such as velvet or chintz. Those are said to be pet hair magnets.

DDIY Pet-Friendly Kitchen Tips

Now for the lavish and luxurious ideas. These pet-friendly designs from Al-fuwaries call for some expert eyes and hands, hence why they made our DDIY (Don’t Do It Yourself) list.

Consider Your Countertops

You may have never thought about pet-proofing your kitchen countertops, but there are a couple reasons you should.

For one, some pets often jump onto countertops, leaving scratches or “accidents” behind.

This type of behavior naturally introduces new germs. Porous countertops can be breeding grounds for bacteria. So, when building or remodeling your kitchen, choose counter material that isn’t porous and is also easy to clean. Options such as marble, granite and limestone? They’re out. Quartz, on the other hand, is in.

“[Some countertops will] absorb anything that is contaminated on the surface,” Al-fuwaries says. “Because of this, I would say quartz is a great idea. It's a man-made composite material that allows you to clean the surface with pretty strong [but pet friendly!] chemical solutions. It doesn't absorb or stain, either.”

Bonus: Quartz is also very hard to scratch.

Another option is lava stone. It tends to run on the pricier side, but due to its nonporous and scratch-resistant nature, it can be an excellent choice.

Not sure how to ensure the counters you’re choosing are pet-friendly enough? “Take a couple of samples home and test them out,” Al-fuwaries says.

Pro tip: “One of the biggest tests we do to make sure [counters] are stain resistant and easy to clean is the soy sauce test,” Al-fuwaries says. “We pour soy sauce on the surface and see how it reacts. We’ll even let it sit there for a few days. Experiment at home with something like soy sauce and see how it works out [before purchasing].”

Need help finding pet-friendly cleaners? We like:

KIDS 'N' PETS Instant All Purpose Stain & Odor Remover
KIDS 'N' PETS Instant All Purpose Stain & Odor Remover
$19.99
Shop Now!
Aunt Fannie's All-Purpose Cleaning Vinegar Bright Lemon Spray
Aunt Fannie's All-Purpose Cleaning Vinegar Bright Lemon Spray
$8.49
Shop Now!
Ion Fusion Professional ION Formula Honeydew Melon All Surface Cleaner
Ion Fusion Professional ION Formula Honeydew Melon All Surface Cleaner
$17.99
Shop Now!

Integrate Feeding Stations Into Your Kitchen Island

Integrated feeding stations, like the one seen below, would take anyone’s kitchen island up a notch. The easiest way to go about integrating a feeding station is by building it directly into the kitchen’s design.

“Being able to design in advance and build a feeding station into the kitchen allows you to intentionally create spaces for things like food and water,” Al-fuwaries says.

“[This keeps] bowls in a convenient location. [You can also build in] direct access to filtered water, so that the bowl doesn't have to be moved in and out a ton.”

Planning to take this route in the future? Be sure to keep water and food bowls removable so you can clean them regularly.

Hide the Pet Gates

Sometimes, you just can’t have pets in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to lock them out entirely.

Sometimes, you just can’t have pets in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to lock them out entirely.

“There are definitely design-savvy ways of doing it so that [gates] can be tucked away and hidden when not in use,” Al-fuwaries says.

“For example, a pocket door that doubles as a gate: There's visual transparency between the two spaces, but it allows you to block off the space and control traffic.”

Upgrade Your Eyesore Doggy Door

Let’s face it; doggy doors can be eyesores. But they don’t have to be.

But “this one's probably one of our favorites,” Al-fuwaries says, referring to the chic and seamlessly integrated pet door seen below (left).

Uh, yeah, this is what dreams are made of.

“I love this because it allows you to keep a portion of the door open without interrupting the internal temperature of your home, but it's also completely part of the architecture. There's not this unappealing eyesore of a piece that is applied to the wall,” Al-fuwaries says.

But not all of us can install a seamlessly integrated doggy door like this. That’s where these easy-on-the-eyes, easy-to-install pet doors come in (at least, until you’re able to get the gorgeous doggy door of your dreams):

PetSafe Sliding 81-in Glass Pet Door
PetSafe Sliding 81-in Glass Pet Door
$179.95
Shop Now!
PetSafe Window & Porch Screen Pet Door
PetSafe Window & Porch Screen Pet Door
$37.95
Shop Now!
High Tech Pet Products Wi-Fi Enabled Smartphone Controlled Pet Door
High Tech Pet Products Wi-Fi Enabled Smartphone Controlled Pet Door
$1039.99
Shop Now!
And there you have it. A ton of ways to design a kitchen with a pet in mind, be it DIY or “DDIY.”
About Dala Al-Fuwaires & House of Form
Dala Al-Fuwaires

Dala is a designer, entrepreneur, educator and creative with more than one decade of design experience, from designer for locally owned restaurants to national rollouts. In her free time, Dala enjoys embarking on culinary and architectural explorations of the world’s top destinations, hosting dinner parties for friends and enjoying nature with her husband, Airabin, and their Siberian Husky, Simba.

For more information, visit the House of Form website or follow them on Instagram.

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By: Lauren JoskowitzUpdated:

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