Built-ins For Pets

built ins for pets - custom dog bed sleeping area under roof eaves - do it yourself via AtticmagClever ideas to make life easier for pets and their families.

Dogs and cats are a big part of our families and we always want them to be safe and comfortable in our homes.  I started collecting various ways to build in pet- friendly sleeping and feeding areas during construction — it would have been better to start in the planning stages.  None of these built ins for pets were utilized in our new home, but if there is a next time, I’m ready.

The top picture was the first one I saved. Tucked under the eaves, there is plenty of space for a large dog to nap or move around — even windows to watch the squirrels. The wood framed metal screen doors don’t appear to have hinges, which makes me wonder if they are pocket doors, both sliding to the left when hidden. That would be a great idea, since it would allow the doors to be out of the way and pets could enter anytime.

built ins for pets - custom built-in dog bed area with doors under staircase - funk design via atticmagAnother underutilized area in a home is the space under a staircase. An arched doorway makes this dog den even more special.  Remember doors should always be constructed of a material that allows airflow so it’s more comfortable for them.

built ins for pets -  custom dog bed nook with vintage grate door - detroit home magazine - via AtticmagThe door of this bed nook was crafted from a vintage grate and blends into the decor when closed.  Thinking outside the box leads to one-of-a-kind features.

built ins for pets - custom laundry room with dog bed area and grooming sink - funk design via AtticmagLaundry rooms are other good areas to corral pets.  This one features a bed niche alongside their bathing sink.  A doorless niche is perfect if pets don’t require containment and it keeps the bed from being underfoot.  Be sure not to miss the funky dog wallpaper.

built ins for pets - custom hutch with cat silhouette door cut out for hidden litter box - laxsupermom via AtticmagA handy husband built this hutch designed by his wife, who happens to be an Atticmag reader.  The cat cut-out leads to the hidden litter box. This clever detail could be added to many existing cabinets.

built ins for pets -  custom built-in dog crates and raised feeding station in kitchen - gardenweb via Atticmag A kitchen remodel is another opportune time to include a kennel and feeding station.  Here the resting spot is built up a step, creating a raised area for meals.  Raised feeding reduces neck and back strain in larger breeds and also promotes healthy digestion.
built ins for pets - raised dog feeding station made from vintage childrens chairs - bh&g via AtticmagA pair of vintage childrens’ chairs were altered to accept stainless bowls.  As a chair fanatic, I love this idea but don’t think I could ever alter an older piece.

built ins for pets -  custom island with inset dog bowls and dog bone shaped drawer pull cut outs - artisan kitchens via atticmagI’m not keen on these bowls that are dropped into a painted feeding station.  It will be constant work to keep clean, but I wanted to show the adorable dog-bone-shaped drawer-pull cut-outs.

Next time you are planning new construction or remodeling, think ahead to include built ins for pets that will benefit the whole family.

(Sources:  Do It Yourself, Funk Design, Detroit Home Magazine, laxsupermom, Gardenweb, Better Homes & Gardens, Artisan Kitchens)

For more pet-friendly ideas, see Built-ins For Pets 2.

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46 Responses to Built-ins For Pets

  1. Pam April 5, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    There are some very fun ideas here! Thanks for sharing.


    • jil March 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      I love those doggy dish chairs where can I find them to buy???

      • Allison March 15, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

        That’s a DIY project. Children’s chairs can be purchased at local antique stores, or online at etsy or eBay. Buy a rimmed stainless steel dish at any pet store, then cut a hole in the chair(s) for the bowl to rest inside.

        • stephanie April 1, 2013 at 9:14 am #

          those chairs may not be altered. i think i’ve seen them before and i think they are antique potty chairs 😉

          • Allison April 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

            I actually saw a child’s chair just like this at a local antique store recently. For the price, I wouldn’t cut a hole! I searched potty chairs, and while I did not see one exactly like this, I did see similar with arms. Most of them have arms, which would make sense. No matter its original use, it’s a great way to repurpose a vintage find.

      • Katy May 14, 2014 at 11:33 am #

        Be careful about the breed of dog you have. Deep chested dogs need to eat straight from the floor. If they have their food elevated like this it could cause a large ingestion of air which in turn will cause bloating. This is exactly how it sounds, but the end result is their stomach twisting which (within hours, unless caught early where you can have the animal tubed or under surgical care depending the severity) can lead to death. I hate to be “doom and gloom,” but that happens far more often than it should.

        An alternative to the full chair idea is to have the legs sawed off or to only have the legs be about an inch or so (still rather close to the ground) in order for the dog to eat in the downward position. I have seen this done and it actually doesn’t look too bad.

        • Allison May 16, 2014 at 9:55 am #

          Thanks for your comments, Katy. Yes, some breeds would not benefit from raised bowls unless the flat bottom bowl was replaced with a bowl designed to slow down rapid eaters – bowl has a raised center. Bloat can be caused by several things, included rapid eating, drinking too much water before or after eating and drinking water too quickly, running too soon after eating, heredity, eating dry foods that contain fat in the first few ingredients, stress or pancreatic enzyme deficiency. Raised bowls benefit pets with less stress to bones and joints, older dogs, those with arthritis or digestive disorders, or a pet suffering from megaesophagus. As with everything, pet owners should do their own research to see what is best for their pet(s).

  2. SilverMagpies April 5, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    So simple, so clever. I can see an instant application for photo number 1. Thanks!

  3. laxsupermom April 5, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    Love that first pic! What a great space for a dog, the windows to the outside make it perfect. If hubs ever allows us to have a dog, that’s the perfect inspiration pic to have. I’m also loving the dog bone cutout handles. Great idea! Thanks for including my cat cut out hutch door in this fantastic collection of pet solutions.

  4. Jean April 5, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Love those ideas. Never thought of some of them. I liked the idea of the children’s chairs bringing the bowls up higher for my baby, but agree about using chairs. I’m going to have to think about this. Thanks!

  5. Jacqueline April 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Too fabulous! I love it, especially a built in in the kitchen!

    We are both severely allergic so this has been a pet free zone except for fish and lizards (how much fun are they?), but I adore cats and dogs. I will have to share this with my neighbors who have dogs, just too cute.

  6. the cape on the corner April 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    that first one creeps me out for some reason, but i love all the others! when we redo the kitchen, we are going to put in a cat station, but the bowls will be recessed in. i know you said you don’t like those for mess-but the bowls on the ledge are messier to me. i can see the contents all over the place since the bowls appear to be on a granite slab! slippery, i’d think!

    • Karen GrieveTomblin November 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      I agree with you about the first one. I would think the sun shining in the windows would make the dog too warm and they couldn’t move out of the sun.

      • Jeanine February 25, 2013 at 3:44 am #

        I look at as an alternative to a crate, it can’t be to big. The class can be tinted to reduce the heat.
        I hate having crates sitting out so I love it and I’m sure my doges would to!

  7. Allison April 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    lol Maybe so, CapeOTC. I feed our cats on the laundry room counter, which is granite. They aren’t very messy and I wipe with damp paper towel at least once daily. I don’t find the granite to be slippery at all. DD2 feeds her cats on a painted counter (over w/d) and it requires major wiping daily.

    I think having a safe place for dogs to rest is a good idea when certain people come over. I crate trained two of ours as puppies, but only the 8lb dog is crated when we leave and never for a long period of time. I wouldn’t feel guilty for leaving a dog in an area like the first picture now and then. Room to walk, stretch, watch the birds/squirrels.

    Thank you for commenting. Always nice to hear what everyone thinks.

  8. Tricia Rose April 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Some of these are wonderful, though I find the first a little sinister! I wonder if the chairs started as commodes? That would salve my conscience.

  9. RHome410 April 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    I wish I’d put more thought into pet issues in designing our house. The dog bowls are just in the way, and there is the hazard and mess of a water bowl. I’d gladly clean that inset area, I think if the mess could be contained so nicely.

    We finally had to put the cat bowls on my sewing counters, because the dogs were getting so fat, snacking all day! But it’s sure not my favorite idea, though, and we’re working on a pet center plan for what was supposed to be an alcove for the downstairs laundry equipment we’ve decided to do without.

    Crate training is a highly recommended method for dogs, and that first space is so much more attractive and movement-friendly than any crate I’ve seen, so I sure see nothing wrong with it. As long as the dog isn’t in it ALL day, and gets plenty of attention and exercise, I think it’s a nice solution. Sometimes guests make our dogs nervous and I think they’d welcome a safe haven of their own, as a regular system they could expect in certain situations. I think dogs naturally like den-like spaces.

    • Ranasdogs April 17, 2011 at 11:47 am #

      I totally agree! Dogs are cave dwellers naturally. I have 2 large breeds and a toy who are all crate trained. I also have some friends/family who do not like animals (I know, what kind of friends are these!) so need to crate them when these certain people visit, when we travel, when small children visit etc. Anyway, how beautiful to have a built in crate with a view! This is something I will definitely work into my reno plan! Such a beautiful idea!
      And to the OP’s (and myself) we shouldn’t feel the need to explain why we crate our animals. Why do people turn basements into playrooms for their kids!?!?!? hehehe…

  10. Allison April 7, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    I agree, RHome. Our small dog has two “safe” areas in our home. I keep her crate in our walk-in closet (which I’ve been told is the size of some NYC bedrooms). It has French doors, so there’s natural lighting. She can also see into the MBR to middle dog in his bed. She goes into the crate by herself several times a day. Also her bed area in the breakfast room. DH and I have been known to arrange our schedules so that she never is crated more than 2-3 hours… and we’re talking only once or twice a month. My friends say they want to come back as one of our pets. We don’t throw birthday parties, but spoil them in other ways.

  11. Larry April 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    The first picture is great idea. Our 2 country dogs would like their bed inside such a room rather than their ordinary dog crate! I think the doors swing inside and hinges would not be seen in photo. With doors swinging in the dog could not push open from the inside as hinges and door stop would catch door. I would have to add some vintage door knobs to the doors.

  12. Kerry August 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    any idea where photo #2 came from? I am trying to design a similar under-stairs dog home!

  13. Allison August 11, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Kerry, I found the photo on the blog “Funk Design – Interiors by Sandra Funk Levy.” It is found on her 2.16.2011 post “Dog Days.” She is not sure where the picture came from, so no source was given. You should be able to show the photo to your carpenters in order to come up with something suitable for your pet(s). Would love for you to share it with us. allison@atticmag.com


  14. Jessica September 2, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    THis post ROCKS! I have a nasty metal crate that I hate and I’m always thinking what can I do to replace this thing! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Allison September 2, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    You’re welcome. Thanks for commenting, Jessica!

  16. Shelly September 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    wow! Awesome ideas executed beautifully! Thank you for the inspiration!

  17. Teri January 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    These are fantastic ideas! I love the simplicity of the designs. I especially love the old chairs turned into food bowls – genius!

  18. Mary January 25, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    I am building a house and originally was going to do the dog “bedroom” under the stairs and then changed my mind thinking I could “never find the right door” and I don’t want a messy look. Thanks to you, I am going to have the understairs re-framed and build a nice door. I will now be splitting – via a wall – the front and rear of the stairwell, front for dogs, rear for pantry. Thank you so much!

    • Allison January 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      You’re welcome – that’s great! I hope you will send a picture when you’re finished. I’d love to see it. allison@atticmag.com

  19. Shaira@bellefield April 27, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    Hey this is great idea for my pets. I have 5 dogs and the problem is where to put them. I have made them like a prisoner outside our home and I kinda miss them hanging around the house. I would like to incorporate a design that includes them inside the house. This is very nice!

  20. Terri S Crum May 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Wonderful ideas for pets! I love the first area with the windows that vent outside…my cats would absolutely love this area & I would love that they would have their own hangout!!

    • Allison May 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

      Thanks, Terri. I so wish I had a place to do this in our house. Would be great when company comes over for our middle dog, and for the cats when workmen are here – they never close the doors!

  21. Lynette June 20, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    That hidden litter box idea is a gem!! I am on the search for a cabinet next week! Love love love it! I love all of the ideas, but that is one that I can surely benefit from as it’s just sitting in my laundry room right now. My boys will love the privacy.

  22. Coachlola June 25, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Soooo clever!!! I am searching the house now to determine where I can put one!!!

  23. JuJu October 11, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    I used a doggie door under my laundry room sink to allow my cats access to their litter box.

  24. Zach November 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Check out this under the staircase dog room: http://www.therodimels.com/project-under-staircase-dog-house/


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