02/23/2010 08:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Move Over Rover

Today I'm sitting at my desk trying to help one client decide between butternut or alder cabinets in the kitchen and sandstone or soapstone on the counters. I'm surrounded by fabric samples for another client who wants to turn the first floor of her house into one beautiful, open living space. Over in the corner are tile samples, stacked up, waiting for another client who is remodeling her entire home, including six bathrooms.

But I've pushed it all aside because I can't stop thinking about the Obama's dog!

Move over, Rover. Now that the Obamas are in the White House, the family will have to make a lot of adjustments in their new home. But perhaps the biggest adjustment is trying to figure out how their new dog will fit into their lives and their space. Will the dog be allowed to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom or will he be in a pet-friendly crate in the West Wing? Will he be allowed to graze under the family dining table, or will his bowl of food and water be locked into a certain spot in the White House kitchen? Can he jump up on the furniture? If so, some serious design decisions have to be made-fast!

I have my own blind spot in this regard (two Labradors), but it does amaze me that people have spectacular kitchens, stainless steel temples of cleanliness, swabbed down with anti-bacterial soap-but there's cat hair on the counter, a box of kitty litter on the floor and a bowl with Fancy Feast Tuna Delight reeking in the corner. I have designed some beautiful kitchens, only to come back months later and see that they are now overrun by Fido.

And I think that homeowners are oblivious to this, blinded with love of their pets. So I would like to break through this blind spot and tell people that they can still love their pet, cuddle with their pet, but at the same time provide appropriate pet accommodations.

Let's begin with getting clever with the litter boxes. I know your adorable kitty needs to have access but that doesn't mean your guests have to trip over it to get to the bathroom. Tuck it into the floor of a cabinet and cut an access hole in the cabinet door. Or at least put the litter box on a tile floor for easy clean up. And it's always best in a well-aerated room.

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If your pets are anything like mine they believe sleeping on the floor is for a much lower species. So on their favorite chair or couch try Crypton Super Fabric (my favorite is "Hound in the Round"!).

Why walk to fill the water bowl? Create a dog niche with a tile back and a single faucet. In most cities if its only cold water, a drain will not be required but double check with your local codes.


If you have more than one pet have a pull-out for food for each one. They may eat the same food now but as they age their needs will change. And for all the STUFF that we acquire owning a pet, organize yourself by putting a label on baskets for "toys", "leashes", "treats".


All of this organizing and planning may help the Obamas manage their new dog. But let's face it. Dogs like to seek out the alpha male in the house. So don't be surprised if you see the new pet hanging out under the desk in the Oval Office!

You can find me most days at my design studio, Hub of the House Kitchens and Interiors by Carla Smith, on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles.