If you are like me, you are not only a pet-lover and pet owner – but you’ve always had them and always will. It is with this lifestyle in mind that architects and interior designers are beginning a new wave of building homes that suit our four-legged family members as much as they suit us.

In a recent article on Builderonline.com, staff-writer Aurora Zeledon highlights a plan that earned Visbeen Architects first place in the Model Home category of the 2011 American Residential Design Awards. This stunning, Neo-Classical home features – among many pet-friendly touches – a mud-room with cabinetry that offers a built-in, pull-out drawer for doggy dinner bowls. And, since no one likes eating alone, the room is strategically placed near the family kitchen so the pets don’t feel too left out at feeding time. The mud-room also includes plenty of storage for leashes, food and other supplies that are best kept out of site – as well as a nearby shower to wash off muddy paws.

Other practical, but brilliant touches include built-in kennels under a coat closet near the rear entry and low pocket doors to keep pets contained while maintaining an open feel. This is a fabulous way to keep dogs and cats from being underfoot or out of harms way when homeowners are entertaining or working on the home, without making them feel completely shut-out.

While the Visbeen home emphasizes a more dog-friendly home, there are many innovative designs that recognize cats are people too. Interior designers are featuring everything from simple, built-in sunny seats, to elaborate floor-to-ceiling shelving designs that allow feisty felines to safely climb to new heights. My hands-down favorite is a custom cut-out for kitty under a built-in clothes dryer. When it comes to warmth and privacy, it doesn’t get much more clever than this.

If building a custom, pet-friendly home is not quite in the budget right now, there are plenty of ways for every home owner to include special spaces for their pets. Building a shelf under kitty’s favorite window to expand the sill is among the most easy, and converting old cabinetry into cozy nooks is another. Installing a second-hand pedestal sink into an existing mud-room or entry way is a great way to keep your dog from bringing the outside inside and building your own floor-to-ceiling kitty condo is easier than you may think. Sometimes, all that is required is a few building materials, a little time and innovation and a whole lot of love!

Credit: Diana Cammarota