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If you’re a pet parent, like me, you know that you can never have enough storage. Leashes, food, treats, grooming supplies and most importantly — toys — take up a lot of space. My older pup, Madeline, long ago lost interest in stuffed animals but my 3-year-old Schnoodle, Sophie, believes a girl can never have too much stuff.

Initially, I spent big money in pet stores on adorable, interactive toys she would toss up in the air a few times then happily destroy. After several months of this, I stumbled across a big box of 25-cent stuffed animals at a yard sale and haven’t paid retail since. After a thorough cleaning in the washer (hot water with a few drops of bleach) and extended tumble in the dryer, Sophie’s second-hand victims (um…toys) are good as new.

To store her stash, I bought a large wicker trunk, painted it black, added a bronze crest I found (where else) at an estate sale, slid it under a table in the living room and used it to keep Sophie’s toys within easy reach. For years the trunk worked fine but this spring my ability to find bargain toys exceeded Sophie’s ability to destroy them. Luckily, I already had a thrifted basket on-hand that, with a little makeover, would be perfect for containing the overflow: 

The basket was too tall to slide under the side table so removing the handle was the first step and I wanted to give it an antique look (I envisioned an old fishing creel) so it would better blend in. Here’s how I did it:
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Step-by-StepSteps: 1-cut ties holding handle in place  2-remove handle  3-thoroughly coat basket with spray stain (I used 2 coats) 4-choose an embellishment, I decided to repurpose an old belt  5-cut off excess leather at the top and bottom  6-attach belt to top of basket using super glue then clamp in place  7-flip basket over and glue a thin piece of wood to the bottom (I just snapped the end off a wood shim)  8-secure belt to wood with thumbtacks or nailhead trim  9-add felt pads to the basket’s bottom to protect your floor

And, voila, my once-plain basket now looks like it belongs in a house filled with antiques:

Best of all: the easy-to-access toy basket gets the Sophie Seal of Approval. Buh-bye little buffalo, looks like the bell has tolled for thee:
Sophie With a New Stuffed Dog Toy

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Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

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One of the really great things about my job is the chance to preview new products before they make it to stores. Usually it’s a candle or pillow but every now and again it’s something unexpected but totally fun — like these pet costumes from Target!

While I don’t exactly plan on taking my pups trick-or-treating, I couldn’t resist dressing them up for fun. Target’s expanded their already (super!) adorable selection for 2012 so if you haven’t considered decking out your dog before – this may be the year.

Here’s my little girl, Sophie, modeling one of the new costumes that just hit the shelves. She’s a 3-year old Schnoodle (Schnauzer/Poodle) and, as you can tell, she’s pretty jazzed to be mommy’s little piggy:Sophie in her pig Halloween costume

 Not to be outdone, Madeline, my 9-year-old Bichon Frise, strutted her stuff as a cheerleader: Madeline in cheerleader costume


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I don’t know about your furry friend, but my Yorkie loves being outside when the weather gets warmer. I worry about her getting heat exhaustion though — so while shopping around for a cute little doghouse, I ran across these sustainable doghouses by Sustainable Pet Design. This doghouse barn features a green roof, so the pet-friendly design also helps the environment. Sustainable Pet Design ships their doghouses along with drainage material, filter fabric, soil mix and a list of native plants in your region. Now all you need to get are some cute overalls and a straw hat for your dog, and he’ll fit right in this barn!
 Doghouse Barn

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Does your dog or cat manage to scoot their food bowl across the kitchen by the time they are done eating? My three dogs do. But with so few stylish and not-too-cute pet placemat options available, I long ago resigned myself to the sounds of chomping and the metal bowls scraping across our hardwoods.

Chilewich Dog and Cat Pet Food Mats - HGTV Design Blog

Not anymore. These basketweave pet mats in orange or green would look perfect in my mostly yellow kitchen. New York-based Chilewich also produces modern, sophisticated and durable tablemats, floormats and window shades for us two-legged types.

Cat and dog lovers, do these food bowl mats appeal to you, too?

Tell us in the comments below.

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This morning I woke up to eight inches of snow on the ground, a horrible reality I discovered seconds after stumbling out of my warm bed and into the cold glare of the window. Normally I like to smash things when the weather in Utah shows such disrespect for the calendar, but the first thing I did after dropping my oldest off at school was drive to the nearest florist, grab the most colorful flower I could find, and shove it into my face to muffle the crying.

Then I brought it home and placed it in a vase on the nightstand next to my bed. So that if I woke up the following morning to more snow I could close my eyes, press my nose to its petals, and pretend that Mother Nature really was a corporation I could sue.



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My husband and I want a dog. We really, really do. And we know exactly what we want  a big, lovable dog who is smart, disciplined and needs a home. Before we started dating, we dreamed about dog ownership separately. But living in great rentals also meant “No Dogs Allowed.” Now, in a home of our own, that’s no longer a valid reason not to take the doggie leap. Or is it? The question is: will we have to sacrifice design to have a dog?

Not according to Christina Dougherty whose chic, canine design is featured on’s Creature Comforts  a resource for fun, stylish ideas and helpful hints for pet owners. Take a look at the entrance Christina created for her Yorkshire terriers a high-style doggie door complete with awning, lighting, flowers and a porch.

Bentley stands on his very own sun porch.

Justin and I do not, by any means, have a houseful of fine furnishings. However, we love what we have, and we don’t want it torn or chewed or stained. I don’t want to cover my funky green sofa with an ugly throw that catches dog hair. I do not want miscellaneous, squeaky toys strewn all over the floor all of the time. I really do not want to spend free time scrubbing messes off the rugs and trying to get dog smell out of the air. I do not want carefully-appointed dinner parties to be disrupted by a wild, uncouth canine. I really do not want the window treatments that I’ve worked on for weeks to be hung only to get ripped from the hardware during “innocent play.” Dogs actually do that!

Dogs also add so much to life, and that’s why we are determined to make it work, to take the leap. We’ve been watching a lot of The Dog Whisperer lately and have learned so much from the mild-mannered trainer with a big heart. Hail Cesar Millan! On a recent show, he told a father who was terribly afraid of dogs, “No family is complete without a dog.” That would have to mean that no house is complete without a dog, right?

Curious Georgiana lounges in her doghouse custom made to look like the family home. The inside is painted to look like the night sky.

Curious Georgiana lounges in her doghouse custom made to look like the family home. The inside is painted to look like the night sky.

I’ve seen plenty of impeccable, beautiful homes with owners who have inside pets. Do you fall into this category? What is your secret?

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Dog lovers, meet perfume lovers. As the owner of a particularly large <a href=”Golden Retriever called Carter (named after a fellow do-gooder and president), I am particularly pleased with HOTdog’s new Fruit & Passion collection. They’ve got the basics, shampoo with natural extracts and gentle shampoo for puppies or dogs with sensitive skin. But my heart skipped a beat when I saw the Fresh and Lustrous Spray, Eau de Toilette and Purifying Deodorizer (for house and home). According to their press info, these beautifully packaged goods include Aloe Vera, Chamomile Flower Extract, Orange-Blossom Water and other goodies to promote healthy, shiny skin and coats. What does this have to do with design? I can sum it up in one word, aroma. Think if it as design for the nose.

Carter and I live in close quarters (our Manhattan manse takes up about 400 square feet) but we’re also sharing the streets with other New Yorkers who, let’s face it, can be a persnickity bunch. Especially when they go out of their way to pet a dog only to have the dreaded Dog Smell on their hands for the rest of the day. Well, fear not citizens of Gotham. Carter’s spruced up, sprayed down and smelling great. Let the petting begin.
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Pet-Friendly Design Dos and Don’ts (HGTV)

Great Gear for Dogs (and Dog Lovers) (HGTV Marketplace)

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